The Prescot THI has just gained a ‘new’ old building that should be repaired, restored and re-used with the benefit of THI grants: 5-7 Eccleston Street.
This building, right at the corner of Eccleston Street and Market Place, bang opposite the Church and with the taxi rank and bus station directly behind it is one of the most prominent commercial buildings in the town centre. It’s a real shame then, that the upper floors have been empty for decades and the large ground floor shop has been empty for at least ten years. Improving this building would give clear enhancement to the conservation area at one of its key junctions.
5-7 Eccleston Street is the white-painted 2 and 3 storey building on the left. I hope that by next time they put the Christmas lights up, this building will look very different.
Ownership / tenancy issues meant they couldn’t include the building in the THI when the Council made the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to kick-start the THI. The ownership / tenancy issues have recently been resolved and I am happy to report that both the HLF and our Prescot THI Partnership Board have agreed to add 5-7 Eccleston Street to the THI’s list of building projects. This list includes the rest of this ‘block’: Waterfield’s Bakery (9-11 Eccleston Street), which is a Priority Project building of the THI.
The new leaseholder is very keen to repair and restore the building and to finally bring it back to full use. An outline grant application should be submitted to the THI Partnership Board for one of their meetings in the new year. At the risk of sticking my neck out, I would hope that the works to the building are complete or nearly complete by this time next year.
In the meantime, the interior of the ground floor has already been repaired and fitted out by the leaseholder without any THI funding, paving the way for re-occupation by a retailer.
The upper floors will need work to convert them to flats and these works would be funded by the THI. Similarly, restoring the exterior of the building, including its double shopfront, is eligible for THI grants.
Historical and Architectural Interest
The site of 5-7 Eccleston Street is among the medieval burgage plots around Market Place and extending along Eccleston Street, in classic English market town layout (I explained about the burgages in this previous blog entry). From the information I have to hand, nothing is known about the buildings that occupied the site until 1798, when what is now no. 7 and no.9 (now part of Waterfield’s Bakery) is recorded as being the White Horse pub.
We know that by the 1820’s the pub was one of five along Eccleston Street and a coach left outside the White Horse for Liverpool at 8:00 every morning and returned at 5pm. The name ‘White Horse’ was probably be a reference to the pub being a coach stop. The building at 7-9 Eccleston Street looks to me like it dates from around 1820-1830 (I always stand to be corrected!), so the existing three storey building at 7-9 Eccleston Street was rebuilt or remodelled after the pub had become an established business and coach stop. The tall three storey frontage of 7-9 with large window openings and a moulded stone gutter reflects how the owner of the White Horse tried to set it apart from the rest of the street with an imposing, architecturally fashionable building.
The tallest part of this row was probably built around 1820-1830 when it was the White Horse pub. By the 1890s only the white part of the tallest building was used the pub. The yellow rendered bit that is now Waterfield’s was converted to a shop before 1890.
The fortunes of the White Horse probably declined with coaching. Although it still had a market practically on its doorstep, by 1891 the White Horse occupied only no.7 Eccleston Street and no.9 was a separate shop. By 1901 the White Horse had closed its doors for the last time and the ground floor was converted to a shop.
The buildings and backstreets around 5-11 Eccleston Street were cleared in the mid-twentieth century, between the late 1930s and 1960, by Prescot Urban District Council. With nos. 1 and 3 Eccleston Street being torn down, no.5 became the new end building in the street, but it appears to have been substantially rebuilt around this time, which is understandable given the amount of demolition that occurred around it. Further remodelling, including restoration works, took place to nos. 5-9 in the early 1980s, which is when many of the sash windows were reinstated. It was around this time that the shops at no.5 and no.7 were knocked through into a large single unit, and the shopfronts replaced with the existing very plain ones.
That’s as much as I know about the building for now, we’ll know more about the building as the project develops – it’s an important relic of both Prescot as a market town and the coaching era. With careful repair and restoration and bringing life back to the building, its fortunes will have what is probably the biggest boost since it was built almost 200 years ago.