HELLO, hello, what’s all this then? Renovation work on the exterior of Abingdon Street Market has uncovered a link with the past: a stone sign for what was Blackpool’s first main police station.
Reader Rob Quigley, who sent in a photograph, is one of many shoppers who have stopped to admire the wording.
He says: “I have never seen the sign before. I was aware of its existence, and I believe the police cells were below the site, and are still there.”
Blackpool Civic Trust president Barry Shaw describes it as “truly historical gem”, adding: “I am delighted this unique aspect of Blackpool history has been revealed by the restoration of the market.”
But he asks: “I wonder how many people have noticed the sign for Police Street, at the rear of the market, on Cedar Square, which also recognises the existence of this former police station?”
Blackpool’s first police station was erected circa 1853 on the east side of Bonny Street close to the present police station. It was a small building and became inadequate for the local population.
Barry says: “Eventually a new station was built in Abingdon Street, and the present market once housed Blackpool’s first main police station.
“Built in 1862, it had a court house, offices, cells and cottages. It was enlarged in 1880, and saw the formation of the Blackpool borough force in 1887.
“Abingdon Street police station closed in May 1893, the force moving into new premises on Lower King Street, now known as South King Street. That property was demolished after new premises and law courts were built at the junction of Bonny Street and Chapel Street.
“The Abingdon Street building was bought by joiner and builder T H Smith to enlarge his premises, and subsequently used as a car showroom by Jackson Brothers until finally, in 1928, it became market premises.”
Barry adds: “The original police cells in Abingdon Street Market still lie under the present fish and sweet stalls.”
There is already a Blackpool Civic Trust heritage trail blue plaque at the market acknowledging its rich heritage.