History Talk Review - Ingol Preston Before The Houses Were Built

Photo taken by me – the view from my window in Inga’s Territory
Preston, England
October 18, 2016 4:16pm CST
I went to a talk this morning about Ingol-Tanterton, the area of Preston I live in. Though knowing a bit about the city centre, my knowledge of Ingol is rather limited. Fortunately, the speaker, Dr Bill Shannon, knows a great deal about the area. The area was not starting to develop as a Preston suburb until 1965, with Tanterton not even mentioned on maps before 1985. Even in that time, it has changed considerably. The nursery close to the community centre used for the talk was once the John O’Gaunt pub, (which many in the audience recalled with a shudder). Another lost pub in the area is The Duke Of Lancaster. The talk started in earnest with a map regression, stripping away the streets layer by layer with maps going back further into the past. In 1947’s map few properties were around, and less on a 1927 map, while in 1844 the area was almost totally given to agricultural land. Only one still existing property, known as Pool House was standing then, and its current owner was in the audience. She described an endless struggle to keep the house free from encroaching wetlands water. That was a clue to the areas once rich seams of wet peat bog which is actually very poor for growing any crops on. In 12,000 BC as with much of Britain, the region had a modest hunter-gatherer population with agricultural settlements first appearing in about 6,000 BC. An elk skeleton, now named Horace, was found in Poulton nearby, and it is now on display in the city’s Harris Museum. At some point it was speared in the foot by a hunter. I have seen this huge skeleton in the museum. In the Ingol neighbouring district of Cottam, peat-marshes were surrounded by drainage ditches and steadily dried off. Ingol was not significant enough to get a mention in the Domesday Book survey of William The Conqueror, but Ingol land does appear on an important map study of 1838. This was an extensive tithe map study of every strip of land in England, its owners and its soil condition, along with notes on what could be grown on the land. The map gives every strip of property a name and number so it is an invaluable source for historians. Dr Shannon is involved in a project to secure land in Ingol to turn into a natural wildlife reserve, to reintroduce frogs, orchids, slow-worms and newts and other natural wonders to the area. Daniel Defoe passed through the region in the 16th century and dismissed its sprawling peat-bogs as useless to all but a few farm-cottage dwellers. He was wrong as peat-cutting and burning was commonplace. The bogs could be treacherous. We saw a few slides showing a depth marking gauge revealing one bog to be over thirty feet deep, (the height of the extracted gauge itself). Bodies of animals, unwary travellers and a few victims of ritual sacrifices are not unknown. Heather and other hardy moorland plants tend to grow rampant on dried out peat areas. We were shown the Tithe map findings for the very building we were using for the talk, which was once called Rough Dub Croft. Dub is actually a distortion of daub, and the croft soils were good for making bricks for many older dwellings in the area as farming communities grew in Ingol. The main produce of the area was potatoes, beans and a little wheat. There were also nearby barley fields serving the brewery industry. More excitingly for me was the revelation that my own flat on the edge of the local golf course, is on the site of an old Viking settlement. Ingol itself means Inga’s Settlement, so I am living on territory once captured and cultivated by a Viking Chieftain called Inga. In the 12th century, a certain Walter Of Ingol, donated a large portion of his land to the church to establish a leper colony on the edge of the Ashton / Ingol areas. The lepers were tended by nuns and monks of the Church of St Mary Maudlands (Magdalene). Interestingly, leprosy was largely extinguished by the Black Death in Europe. Farm fields were open strips of land, unfenced and often serving the community. The area also had a number of deep marl pits. Marl is a kind of quicklime that forms in dry patches under peat, and can be sprinkled as top soil. We were shown a photograph of a grave from the Fylde of a Marl-digger who was killed in the 19th century when his pit collapsed on him. The nearby Fulwood area, where I’ll be working in late November and most of December, was once a forest, but it was heavily cut down in the 13th century. Trees were cut back allowing rapid growth of new produce on the fresh soils reclaimed in areas known as coppices. Dr Shannon, who has visited the area before, undoubtedly had more to say, but time was against him, so now doubt I’ll hear more at future talks like this excellent presentation. Arthur Chappell
6 people like this
6 responses
• Bournemouth, England
18 Oct 16
It's always pleasing to hear about a speaker who really connects with their audience through a well-researched and tailored talk.
3 people like this
• Preston, England
18 Oct 16
@asfarasiknow certainly applies in this case
2 people like this
• Bournemouth, England
19 Oct 16
@arthurchappell Greatly enhanced by his choice of visual aids, by the sound of it.
2 people like this
• Preston, England
19 Oct 16
@asfarasiknow yes it was a power-point presentation
2 people like this
@teamfreak16 (35111)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
19 Oct 16
Very informative. It's a shame about all the pubs, though.
3 people like this
@Jessicalynnt (48190)
• Centralia, Missouri
19 Oct 16
that sounds like something that would have been up your alley
2 people like this
@jennyjoy (2030)
• Bangalore, India
19 Oct 16
A well informed speaker.The maps must have been interesting to compare over the ages.
2 people like this
@FayeHazel (10732)
• United States
20 Oct 16
Wow, the bogs sound interesting, and, a bit scary. Nothing like that here that I know of... thank you for sharing
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
20 Oct 16
@FayeHazel much safer here now - the serious wetlands have been drained
@Fleura (5727)
• United Kingdom
19 Oct 16
That's all very interesting, even though I don't know the area at all. Fascinating little snippets come up now and then. There was once a leper colony not far from here, in a place that was then beyond the edge of town.
1 person likes this