Work to create a bright new future for Preston’s Friargate area has unearthed a fascinating glimpse into the historic street’s past.
As part of the pre-construction work on Portergate’s ambitious £18 million regeneration project an archeological study is taking place on site.
And the expert archeology team has uncovered the remains of four early 19th century homes on Great Shaw Street.
The layouts of the small properties, probably workers’ homes, are clearly visible, including their flagged floors.
Lancaster-based Oxford Archeology North (OA North) is continuing its work on the 1.5-acre redevelopment site and archeologist Jeremy Bradley is hopeful of more discoveries.
He said: “The layouts of the houses we have unearthed are from the early 19th century and they were probably the homes of local workers.
“We’ve also found pieces of broken property in the area and we’re currently working to use that to date the homes more specifically.
“We’re on the site for at least another fortnight so it could be that we will find other pieces from Preston’s past.
“Friargate is said to be a street that dates back to medieval times and the area has a long history, so who knows what else we will find as we go deeper.”
OA North started work in 1979, first as the Cumbria and Lancashire Archaeological Unit, from 1986 as the Lancaster University Archaeological Unit and, since 2001, as part of Oxford Archaeology.
It now has around 50 staff working on a wide range of commercial, research and community programmes.
The archaeology survey it is carrying out on the Friargate site is taking place alongside the clearance work, which has now seen the old Bambers furniture store demolished to make way for the exciting new development.
The former Blitz nightclub will also disappear shortly as preliminary work on the much-needed regeneration of the run-down area gathers pace.
Anthony Jackson, chairman of Portergate Properties, said work to clear the site was on schedule and construction would start shortly on the first phase of the mixed-use scheme.
The transformation of the 1.5 acre site will bring smart new retail premises onto Friargate and a 253-room building providing boutique hotel-style accommodation to students at the nearby University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Part of that high-quality accommodation on offer is also aimed at post graduate students at the university and apprentices and key workers in Preston’s high-tech manufacturing sector and new Enterprise Zone.
Mr Jackson said: “The site of the former Bambers shop on Friargate will be transformed, with quality retail and student accommodation as part of the first phase of our regeneration plan for the site.
“Once completed it will provide boutique hotel-style accommodation, not only for students but also for young key workers in the city, where we believe there is a real demand for this type of living space.
“The site of the old Blitz nightclub is part of our strategic, overall regeneration plan for the area.
“It will be developed as part of the second phase of the project and we will be revealing those plans in more depth as work on the first phase progresses.
“Our aim throughout the project is to play a major role in transforming the fortunes of the Friargate area and our hope is that our development and commitment will encourage others to invest in the area as a key part of the city’s regeneration.”
The aesthetically pleasing shop and apartment complex has been designed around open garden areas by Manchester architecture practice Leach Rhodes Walker.