I arrived at Chorley Railway Station.
The current railway station is a modern version from the 1980s that was built on top of the original station. The level of the old platforms can be seen under the existing station’s two platforms which are connected by underpass. The initial station was opened on 22 December 1841 by the Bolton and Preston Railway – which later became part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and was subsequently served by the Lancashire Union Railway between St Helens, Wigan North Western and Blackburn from 1869.
Passenger trains over this route between Blackburn & Wigan were however withdrawn in January 1960. Further work was done in 2016 and 2017 in connection with the electrification of the line between Euxton Junction and Manchester.
Crossed over to the Interchange – which was formerly a humble bus station, opened in February 2003 replacing the previous structure.
Across the way a stand of shops with distinctive faience fascias.
Further along the Shepherds’ Victoria Hall – once home to the Jubilee of the Ancient Order of Shepherds’ Friendly Society which was quite prominent in Chorley in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s
Down the way a ways a Baptist Chapel of 1845 on Chapel Street – currently trading as Malcolm’s Musicland.
Next door the Chorley Town Cafe with some excellent stained glass.
Hang a sharp right to the Market – where there is this newish piece of public art Pattern of Life a bronze relief by Diane Gorvin and mosaic work by Tracey Cartledge
This piece involves an innovative combination of cast bronze and ceramic mosaic. Two bronze relief panels display female figures holding out rolls of fabric, each decorated with patterns and images that are particular to the town of Chorley. Payphones, for example were invented and manufactured in Chorley, the crested newt is protected here and you might also notice the famous Chorley Cakes. As the fabrics tumble down, the designs are translated from bronze relief on the wall surface into 2D mosaic in the pavement.
Looking down Fazakerley Street to where Fine Fare once was.
We’ll return to such matters in a moment – we have to get to the Post Office – which is no longer a Post Office.
Architect Charles Wilkinson.
It was a Post Office in 1935 – it also has a later extension.
The local list declares that the post office dates from 1935. This is almost certainly erroneous since the contract documents date from 1924, and from contract to completion the average construction and fitting-out time was about 18 months.
Happily, the Library is still a library.
Plans supplied by the Architects Messrs. Cheers & Smith of Blackburn which were approved by the Education Committee on the 18th August 1904 – design proposals for the new Technical School entitled Light and Air.
The considerable task of erecting the school was given to the local builder Mr. William Hampson of Pall Mall.
Surely the envy of his trade, the total contract was worth a mouth- watering £10,041 15s. 9d. – approx. £720,000 today.
The building was officially opened by the 16th Earl of Derby on September 24th 1906.
Heading to the Council Offices.
Over the road the town’s newest retail development Market Walk – the work of AEW Architects.
Chorley Council bought the shopping centre from Orchard Street Investments for £23m in 2013 and commenced a large-scale regeneration scheme in 2018 involving a £15m, 79,000 sq ft retail and leisure extension led by main contractor Eric Wright Group and designed by AEW Architects. Here, Conrad Heald of Chorley Council tells his interviewer, AEW director Phil Hepworth, how the scheme came to fruition and has rejuvenated the town centre.
The memorial re-sited in 2018 commemorates the Chorley Pals.
In less than 20 minutes, 235 of the 720 men from the 11th East Lancs. were killed. Another 350 were wounded, of which 17 would eventually succumb to their wounds. Many of the Battalion died where they fell, in No Man’s Land.
As a result of the attack on the morning of the 1st July, the Chorley Pals – Y Company, had 31 men killed and three died within a month of their wounds received on that day. 21 have no known graves and their names are transcribed on the Thiepval memorial to the Missing on the Somme battlefield. A further 59 were wounded, making a total of 93 casualties out of approximately 175 men from Chorley who went over the top that morning.
Landscaping of the public realm by CW Studio.
Reversing now to the former Barclays Bank – which closed earlier in 2022.
We return now to the former Fine Fare.
The company began as one single supermarket in Welwyn Garden City in 1951, as an offshoot of the Welwyn Department Store, owned by Howardsgate Holdings, the company of Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the garden city movement.
Now here’s a thing a bank which is a bank NatWest not gone west.
Next to the former Woolworths, opened in Chorley in 1930 on Market Street, with its pale Deco faience fascia.
They traded from this building for sixty five years, before closing in March 1995 in order to move to a new store on Market Walk – it became an Argos, then it didn’t.
Here we are now at a Post Office that is a Post Office but was an RBS Bank.
The new location is at the former Royal Bank of Scotland on Market Street in the town centre.
Since the Post Office that was based at WH Smith on New Market Street came to an end, when that store closed in January, it relocated to a temporary unit in Market Walk until a permanent solution could be found.
The unit, which had been provided by the postmaster from Burscough Bridge Post Office, closed on Tuesday.
Kenny Lamont, Post Office Network Provision Manager, said a Post Office is important to a community.
This had been a Methodist Church – then, it became the HQ of the Lancashire Electric Power Company.
The Lancashire Electric Power Company was one of the largest private electricity companies in the UK. It was established in 1900 and generated and supplied electricity to 1,200 squares miles of Lancashire from 1905 until its abolition under nationalisation in 1948.
Time to back track to the Cop Shop – the work of County Architect Roger Booth and crew.
The Magistrates’ Courts are closed and up for sale.
Next door the White Hart once upon a time the Snooty Fox, a pub with an up and down trajectory – currently open and described online as plush.
Down the road a pub no longer a pub but an Urban Spa.
We offer you a full range of professional treatments tailored to your own personal needs. We treat every client as an individual and offer an extensive range of treatments and professional products making your visit one to remember.
Let’s go to the theatre – The Empire tucked away at the back of town.
The Empire Electric Theatre opened, as the town’s first purpose-built cinema, on 3rd September 1910. In 1912 Archie Hooley began his connection with the cinema business at the Empire Electric Theatre. By 1927 it had been re-named Empire Cinema and by 1930 it was equipped with a Western Electricsound system and was operated by the Perfecto Filmograph Co. Ltd. By 1939 it was operated by the Snape & Ward chain. According to the Kine Year Books, in 1940 the seating was for 800, while by 1952 it had been reduced to 679 – still a far cry from today’s 236 seats. 3D films were shown in the early-1950’s. Archie had died in 1944; his son Selwyn closed the cinema in 1957, apparently “because of the taxes”.
Wrestling took over for a while before Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society – CADOS acquired the building and renamed it the Chorley Little Theatre. Since 1960 CADOS have been putting on high-quality productions, presenting at least six productions per season – from September to July. It is also the home of the award-winning Chorley Youth Theatre who meet every Saturday, putting on shows throughout the year; and Chorley Empire Community Cinema who present the cinema experience on their 21ft wide screen with 8-Speaker Surround Sound. Run entirely by volunteers the theatre has state-of-the-art sound systems and a full range of lighting equipment. There are two spacious dressing rooms, space for costumes and props and the Empire Bar. The building has disabled access throughout the public area, including a toilet, and the auditorium is fitted with a hearing loop. There are three spaces for wheelchairs in the auditorium. It was re-named Chorley Empire Cinema at Chorley Theatre in October 2019 and films are still part of the programming.
Spare a thought for the town’s lost cinemas:
The Odeon Market Street was built for and operated by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain, it opened on 21st February 1938 with Jack Buchanan in The Sky’s the Limit.
Architect Harry Weedon was assisted by PJ Price.
It was closed by the Rank Organisation on 6th February 1971 with George Lazenby in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. After laying closed and un-used for over two years it was sold to an independent bingo operator and re-opened on 9th August 1973 as a Tudor Bingo Club. It later became a Gala Bingo Club which was renamed Buzz Bingo Club in June 2018. It was closed on March 21, 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. On 15th July 2020 it was announced that the closure would be permanent.
The building was handed over to Chorley Council who decided that asbestos removal would be too costly and the building was demolished in August 2021.
Located on Salisbury Street, off Cunliffe Street, built in 1888 as a military warehouse, it was converted into a roller skating rink around 1909. It opened as the Pavilion Picture Palace on 14th September 1911, operated by George Testo Sante, a music hall strong man, who also operated the Grand Theatre as a cinema. By 1915, music hall acts were also part of the programme. After the end of World War I, the flat floor of the cinema was raked, allowing for better viewing of the screen. The proscenium was 30ft wide, the stage was 16 feet deep and there were two dressing rooms.
The Pavilion Cinema was the first in town to screen ‘talkies, when an Electrochord sound system was installed in 1929. It was taken over by the J.F. Emery Circuit in 1932 and they operated it until the end of 1933. The sound system was upgraded to a British Talking Pictures sound system. In 1954 it was the first cinema in town to be fitted with CinemaScope and the proscenium was widened to 36 feet.
The Pavilion Cinema was closed by 1962 and converted into a bingo club. In 1972 it was re-opened as a cinema again, but due to Star Cinemas chain barring it from showing first run features – they operated the Plaza Cinema, it was closed after 5 months of operation. It was later demolished and the area was redeveloped for housing.
No trace of The Hippodrome Theatre on Gillibrand Street, which was built and opened in 1909, or the Theatre Royal, opened on 30th September 1911, It was demolished in 1959.
A supermarket was built on the site which later became a McDonalds, which is now a Pizza Hut.
Last but not least – located on the Flat Iron Parade, aka Cattle Market, The Grand Theatre was a wooden building built in 1885, which presented melodramas and plays. In June 1909 it was taken over by George Testo Santo, who had been a music hall strongman, and his family. It went over to operating as a Picture Palace for a short season.
By 1914 it was operating as a full time cinema, but was destroyed by fire in 1914.
Chorley Theatre Cinema History Map
This was a splendid day out – there is much more to see, these have been some of the less obvious landmarks.
Go see for y’self!