Step back in time and explore some of Preston’s oldest pubs

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Ye Olde Blue Bell is located on Church Street. Photo Lisa Brown

We step back in time to take a look at some of the oldest and most traditional pubs in central Preston on a mini heritage pub trail. Local historian and author, Stephen R. Halliwell, talks about the history of each pub and we look at what makes each special.











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Ye Olde Blue Bell

Ye Olde Blue Bell is one of Preston’s oldest pubs located in the heart of the city in Church Street.

There are plenty of stories attached to the Grade II listed pub – including rumors of a bricked walkway leading from the cellar to a local church – whose staff cannot confirm that the Samuel Smith Brewery is publicity shy. Owner Humphrey Smith prohibits staff from speaking to the press.

It’s a Sam Smith pub, it encourages socializing rather than looking at devices, with locals enjoying their pints by the fireplace and laptops, mobile devices, TV, music and swearing banned.

The pub is warm and friendly and is decorated in a traditional style with photographs of old Preston hanging on the walls. It serves the full range of Samuel Smith beers.

Stephen R. Halliwell includes the pub in his Pubs in Preston blog. He said: “At the end of April, 1716, Widow Hall was fined £2 at Court Leet, for keeping a disorderly house at Blew Ball, Churchgate. It is assumed that it would take some time to turn into a messy house, and the date it became a tavern is unknown. Although the Olde Blue Bell has seen its share of miscellaneous events, it is probably best known for the murder of the owner’s daughter in 1881, when Annie Ratcliffe was killed by her lover in the nearby Sir Walter Scott Inn. North Road around the corner. of the Walk of the Lord. Her attacker was hanged. The unique character of the Blue Bell has been lost, as it has with so many other licensed premises, by the removal of walls to allow better surveillance of the premises.

The Grade II listed Black Horse has three entrances on three different streets.  Photo Lisa Brown
The Grade II listed Black Horse has three entrances on three different streets. Photo Lisa Brown

Black Horse

The Black Horse has been a mainstay on the pub circuit for a number of years, with many telling stories of crawling out of the building after just a few pints of Old Tom. Among the many drinks on offer, it serves at least eight Robinson beers on tap. A lovely traditional pub with a friendly, friendly atmosphere and open fires.

The beautiful tiled bar at Black Horse Pic Lisa Brown
The beautiful tiled bar at Black Horse Pic Lisa Brown

Stephen R. Halliwell includes the Black Horse in his Pubs in Preston blog. He said: “Dating back to at least the late 1700s, the present building was erected over the footprint and next to the original, in 1898.

“Many features of this Grade II listed building have survived from that time, in particular the masonry on the exterior of the building and the woodwork on the interior. The circular tiled bar is believed to be of more recent origin, completed by Burmantoft of Leeds, and although the intricate terrazzo flooring is reputed to date from 1898, I have my doubts about that. The company credited with making the original work, Quilligotti’s of Stockport, didn’t exist until after World War II, so either the date is wrong or the name of the company is wrong.

Real fires and cozy rooms at the Black Horse.  Photo Lisa Brown
Real fires and cozy rooms at the Black Horse. Photo Lisa Brown

“None of this takes away from Black Horse’s status as a must-visit place, and it is a superbly preserved example of public houses from that era. The circular bar, along with its surrounding Art Nouveau decor, is reason enough to visit the Black Horse when all the other discoveries will be a pleasant bonus.

The Moorbrook is popular with North End fans on match days.  Photo Lisa Brown
The Moorbrook is popular with North End fans on match days. Photo Lisa Brown

The Moorbrook

The Moorbrook has become synonymous with delicious wood-fired pizzas and craft and draft beers. This cozy North Road pub has a lovely bar, two halls and an outdoor area to the rear of the pub. Popular with North End fans on match days, it’s a local favourite.

The Moorbrook serves a range of cask and craft beers. Photo Lisa Brown

Stephen R. Halliwell includes the pub in his Pubs in Preston blog. He said: ‘Standing at the northern tip of North Road, the earliest date for the Moorbrook Inn is 1860, just seven years before the Corporation opened the Cattle Market Hotel on Brook Street. The significance of this is that once the cattle market was located where the Church of the English Martyrs is now and before that it was on St. George’s Road. The Unicorn Hotel was previously known as The Cattle Market Tavern, and it had a neighbor called The Shepherds’ Tavern, both references to the activity carried out next door. The Shepherds’ Tavern stood between the Unicorn and where the Moorbrook now stands.

Comfortable rooms and a welcoming atmosphere await you at Moorbrook.  Photo Lisa Brown
Comfortable rooms and a welcoming atmosphere await you at Moorbrook. Photo Lisa Brown

“For 150 years the life of the Moorbrook was mainly ‘just another pub around the corner on the North Road’. There were many of them. The majority of its commerce will have been from the Moorbrook Mill which overlooked it. The recent past has seen it acquired by local licensed commercial developer, Jeremy Rowlands, and it has been revitalized with many facets of pub offerings including food and a beer garden.

Plaus

Plau is located on Friargate and home to some fascinating historical features. Photo: Lisa Brown

Renowned for its delicious cuisine, as well as its extensive gin and cocktail list, Plau continues to go from strength to strength.

The pub regularly hosts a range of interesting events and musical evenings in its ground floor vaults and in the Market Street social space. During the day you can enjoy a delicious brunch and herbal tea, followed by a trip back to Once Was Lost located in one of the weavers cottages on Market Street West. The store features the work of independent traders and creators who sell their work at the Market Street Social Creator Marketplace.

In the evening, the restaurant above the pub opens its doors and serves a selection of tasty small plates. There are plans to expand the space further to include a roof terrace and it is said there could be another hidden room to dig out.

The bar of the cellar of Plau, the space hosts many interesting events.  Photo Lisa Brown
Plau’s Vault Bar; the space hosts many interesting events. Photo Lisa Brown

Stephen R. Halliwell includes Plau in his Pubs in Preston blog. He said: “Another acquisition by Jeremy Rowlands is a property at the top of Friargate Brow, next to Roper Hall. By 2015 it had completed 102 years in a variety of retail businesses, but from the 1600s to 1913 it had been marketed as The Plow Inn. Jeremy’s new project presented him with a history that could potentially date back to the 1200s. This is the suggested date for the fantastically constructed well on the site. Jeremy could have decided to erase all history in his quest to grow his business, but chose to alert Historic England and work with them to preserve it. The whole of Preston should applaud this choice.

The water from the Plau well is supplied by a natural spring flowing under the buildings.  The level goes up and down.  Photo: Lisa Brown
The water from the Plau well is supplied by a natural spring flowing under the buildings. The level goes up and down. Photo: Lisa Brown

“Today, the 42-foot-deep well, safely covered in tempered glass, is now part of the cozy Vaults, which were, by the way, a Gin Den from the 1700s. now lovingly restored and growing in popularity and renown.Further developments are still underway to the rear of the Friargate property, including the restoration and re-use of three weavers cottages which front onto Market Street West , with a development known as Market Street Social. Access to the rear can be gained through Clayton’s Gate, an archway on Friargate Brow. Plau’s reputation continues rapidly on an upward trajectory, and the future for they look pink!

Stephen R. Halliwell’s book Pubs in Preston from Plow to Plau is available for purchase from Waterstones, WH Smiths and Once Was Lost.

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Do you have a favorite traditional pub in Preston? Where would you include on a heritage pub trail?

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