Shopkeepers & Tradespeople
From the Middle Ages Kirkham was noted as a market town and was granted a charter to hold a weekly market (held on Thursdays) and a midsummer fair by Edward I in 1271. In 1901 the Victoria County History of Lancashire noted that the market had ‘long been obsolete’.
The main shopping area of Kirkham is, and has been for some time, along and around Poulton Street looking westwards from the early nineteenth century fish stones. Looking at the Census records for the mid-nineteenth century (1851) and the early twentieth century (1911) it is interesting to note the professions attached to the heads of household for Poulton Street. In both there is quite a mix of tradespeople (Tailors, Shoemakers etc.) and shopkeepers (Grocers, Confectioners etc.) with a smattering of clerical/professional people (Lawyers, Insurance Agents etc.) In 1911 there were however, a greater number of shops which suggests it is more like the retail area that we know today.
Census records can also reveal other little quirks of history. For example, on Poulton Street the 1911 census also shows two German Pork Butchers: Charles and Marie Loechner from Württemberg and Katharina Hoffman, originally from Germany but a naturalised British citizen. Specialist German pork butchers were once a common feature on our high streets, and some were the target of anti-German protests during the first world war. In 1911 we also have John Fenton a Cycle Agent, originally from Lincolnshire, which reflects the growth in the use of cycles for leisure and business from the late ninetieth century.
The 1952 Barrett’s Directory of Preston and District shows a very similar character and in the present time a quick search using Google Maps continues to show many retailers and shop fronts. From a contemporary perspective in early 2021, Poulton Street and Kirkham as a whole has obviously been affected by Covid 19 which has exacerbated the decline of the high street and affected the trading potential of the town. It should be hoped that the roll out of vaccines and an extra investment will help the town to realise new possibilities in the years ahead.