If you’ve been on Eccleston Street this week, the chances are you’ll have seen that the scaffold has gone up in front of 29-31 Eccleston Street (Millican Opticians) and I can report that the internal structural works are nearing completion.
29-31 Eccleston Street: the second THI project to start on site.
Prescot Roll of Honour
Since my last blog post (which was about this very building) I was sent some very interesting information about the buildings from Stephen Nulty of the Prescot Roll of Honour (latest newsletter here). Stephen has done a lot of research about Prescot covering the decades either side of the Great War that has revealed much about the town and its people. The Prescot Roll of Honour is well worth a visit, as is subscribing to its newsletter.
Stephen has kindly pulled together info about who the occupiers of these buildings were between 1871 and 1924.
Stephen’s research has confirmed that no.31 was occupied in between 1871 and 1891by James and Catherine Fairhurst who were nailmakers and ironmongers (later just ironmongers). The outrigger with a big chimney behind no.31 could conceivably have been used for the nail making.
After an interlude of at least 10 years when the shop at no.31 was occupied by John Young, greengrocer and fruiterer, the building was occupied once more by the Fairhursts. Kelly’s Directory of 1905 records Ernest Fairhurst, butcher, as the occupier of no.31and he was the occupier of the shop until some point between 1915 and 1918. The 1911 census suggests a relative (William Fairhurst, ‘retired watchmaker’) lived over the shop during this time.
From 1918 onwards (or slightly earlier) the shop was occupied by John Martindale, butcher, who was himself for a five or more years based in a shop two doors down at no.27 before he moved his business into no.31.
A curious thing that Stephen has uncovered is that there were a couple of cottages somewhere in the rear yard behind 29 and 31 Eccleston Street. The 1871 census records Henry Hunter (joiner) and family at 31a Eccleston Street and James Hunter (joiner) and family at 31b Eccleston Street. The 1891 Census records dwellings called 1 and 2 Fairhurst’s Yard, taking its name from the family occupying no.31 since at least 1871. In 1891 1 Fairhurst’s Yard was home to John Riley (labourer) and family and 2 Fairhurst Yard by Noah Fairhurst (labourer) and family. The later presumably related to the Fairhursts in no.31.
Returning to the street, the shop at 29 Eccleston Street was from 1871 to 1881 (and quite possibly for the years following) by Sarah Gaskell, butcher. From 1901 onwards the shop was occupied by Charlotte Burrows and then Marion Burrows who were boot and shoe dealers. Their business was at no.29 for at least 24 years. We don’t know who occupied the floors over the shop, but the 1891 Census does record a William Rigby (mason) and family at ‘29a Eccleston Street’, which was possibly the upstairs.
The THI Project
The works at 29-31 Eccleston Street will continue for another 3 months in all. The upper floors are being made into four affordable dwellings and the ground floor shopfront restored to a traditional appearance.
With the scaffold up, I was able to have an up close look at the building with the contractor and architect. Below are some photos of what we saw:
High up the front wall at second storey level it is clear that the early nineteenth century bricks have been re-pointed in a hard cement mortar and mortar patching has been put onto the faces of bricks that have failed. We will be looking to piece in matching bricks to replace those that are covered in mortar. The pointing, although sloppy, is stuck fact to the bricks, so removing it would do more harm than good.
The main gutter and roof were in surprisingly good condition. The stonework along the edge of the roof was patched up in cement and painted over in impermeable paint many years ago. These impermeable materials have trapped moisture in the lovely red sandstone which has in places decayed so badly that it has turned to sand. In this photo we peeled off some of the white paint and out dropped sand that has landed on the platform below. The contractor will take all of the paint off and we’ll see what condiiton the stonework is in before deciding what to do next.