The first record of Faulkner Street, built on land belonging to the Faulkner family, appears in the 1851 Census showing 23 houses. The 1861 Census records the 60 premises we see today terminating where Griffiths Terrace used to be. The continuation of Faulkner Street was not built until the 1880s on the field called Cowpastures (see Lightfoot Street article).
The name Faulkner is derived from 'falconer' which explains why until recently three black falcons appeared on the prominent corner pub sign of the Faulkner Arms.
Residential to Retail
Faulkner Street was initially virtually all housing, usually let on short term rentals. The 1861 Census shows 26 railway workers living there. Retail businesses started from front rooms which were eventually converted into shops joining the very few purpose-built ones.
An 1857 Directory lists two boot and shoemakers, a provision dealer, a tailor and also a school academy; the 1861 Census added to the range of outlets with a butcher, a cowkeeper (fresh milk), a baker, a grocer and a beer retailer.
In 1888 James Freeman Fletcher who owned Upton View (recently Natwest Bank) built a block of shops in his garden (now Boots etc.). One of the first occupants was David Dickinson, a chemist [whose prescription book Hoole History & Heritage Society has been able to study]; he also ran the Post Office which had transferred from No.2 Charles Street, and which continued until the 1950s under Goodman Roberts. The addition of these shops and the demolition of houses to allow the later built Walker Street access meant that Faulkner Street properties had to be re-numbered.
An extract and plan from the deeds for five houses at the original end of the street show the renumbering on that side. No.74 (originally No.66) was occupied by Leonard Riley from before 1871 until his death in 1892. He was a cowkeeper, using the yard and outbuildings there, and the field behind called Cowpastures, to raise his dairy cattle. His son, also named Leonard Riley, who continued to live there was appointed as the first park keeper of Alexandra Park in 1904. His daughter was married to Thomas Baldwin the greengrocer from Charles Street.
Like Goodman Roberts some family businesses thrived throughout the first part of the 20th century. Many readers will remember, among others, Dinwoodie the butcher, originally at No.2 but later at Nos.65 and 67, Tommy Lloyd the fishmonger at No.38, whose front window opened completely to display his wares, Dawson's newsagents whose business was in Faulkner Street for 102 years and Smith's (Pioneer) shoe sales and repairs, run by the father and grandfather of Bill Smith, Hoole’s well known participant in the Isle of Man TT Races.
Past members of the Boys' Brigade will recall Faichney's taxis and coaches at No.10 who provided transport for the Brigade on their outings.
Only four private houses now remain in the northern part of the street where takeaways, estate and travel agents, cafe, bar and restaurant are now a part of the vibrant street scene.
The first pub to open in Faulkner Street was the Faulkner Arms an advertisement for a pigeon shooting there appearing in the Chester Chronicle on 16 August 1851.
In 1855 the landlord was a Mr. Brown who also worked at the Leadworks. A succession of landlords followed until the Stringer family took over in 1878, running the pub until at least 1906. The brewery was Wilderspool Ales from Warrington. The Faulkner Arms was often used to hold coroner's inquests sometimes with a jury present.
The Bromfield Arms is first mentioned in a licence transfer in 1864. The earliest innkeeper recorded in 1867 was Thomas Balshaw who had opened one of Hoole's first shops in Peploe Street (this shop later became Lewis's Ice Cream shop). He died in 1874 and there were then six other landlords to the turn of the century. A keystone over the door on the Walker Street corner shows that in 1900 the Bromfield doubled in size following the demolition of two adjoining cottages Nos.45 and 47. The Northgate Brewery were then the owners.
The Hamilton Arms appears to have been an earlier name for the Royal Oak in Faulkner Street whose first landlord was Edward Edwards in 1864. He was followed in 1871 by Philip Gorst, in 1878 by Rebecca Hughes and in 1899 by George Ryan who was also a taxi driver. The Gatehouse Brewery, Birkenhead which became the West Cheshire Brewery supplied the beer. Eventually the West Cheshire Brewery was taken over by Threlfalls of Liverpool. This was not the only Royal Oak in Hoole, as there was a pub of the same name at Hoole Bank. As reported in the Cheshire Observer on 24th August 1901:
- SCENE ON HOOLE ROAD. POLICEMAN ASSAULTED. At Chester Castle Petty Sessions, on Saturday, before Mr. H. D. Trelawny and other magi- strates, Isaac Arnold and George Jones, horse dealers, of no fixed residence, were summoned for assaulting P.C. Mitchell while in the execution of his duty at Hoole on Thursday night. Arnold was also charged with being drunk in charge of a horse and carriage, and Jones with being drunk and disorderly.—Defendants pleaded guilty, and were represented by Mr. E. Brassey.—It appeared that P.C. Mitchell, who was riding a bicycle on Hoole-road in plain clothes, saw the defendants riding in a dogcart near the Royal Oak Inn. Arnold was in charge of the horse, and was driving furiously. They wanted to be served at the Royal Oak, but the licensee refused them. Mitchell then proceeded to take defendants in custody, whereupon they became very violent. Arnold said You are not going to do," and struck him on the arm with the handle of his whip. The officer maintained his hold of the horse's head, and was again struck by Arnold with his fist. Arnold then struck him another blow, and the constable then relinquished his hold of the horse and struck the man in retaliation. Jones then interfered, and struck and kicked him. Finally Arnold made his escape, but was subsequently arrested, and Jones was apprehended. Evidence in support of the case was given by Mrs. Taylor, licensee of the Royal Oak Inn; and Ellis Eccles, blacksmith, Hoole Village. Defendants were each fined 10s. and costs for drunkenness, and 40s. and costs with tho alternative of one month's imprisonment for the assault upon the police.
There were also two other licensed premises in Faulkner Street at the end of the 19th century: Dickinson the Chemist for medical purposes and Denson the grocer at No.8 who was also a wine merchant.
1970's: Threatened Demolition
In the early 1970's there were council plans to demolish a quarter of houses in the Hoole area around Faulkner Street by 1973 as part of a wider clearance and redevelopment scheme in the city. Rumours of the scheme first came to the attention of The Cheshire Observer in April 1972, when it was reported that “the ‘little’ streets off Westminster Road in Hoole, including Phillip Street, Edna Street and Prescot Street” were “under review” by "Chester's Chief Public Health Inspector, Mr C. E. Jarvis". Those rumours were “scotched” by the council, which claimed that there were “no immediate proposals for the area.”
Less than a year later, however, in February 1973, The Observer reported that a wider review of housing in Hoole had taken place, and that a clearance of areas around Westminster Road and the busy shopping area of Faulkner Street had been recommended. The Observer reported that: "Of the houses affected under the scheme, three-quarters would be dealt with by improvement, while one-quarter would be dealt with by clearance". Tenants of these properties were to be moved out of the Hoole area, and over the bridge to the Black Diamond Street area. Mr. Stanley Ripley, Deputy City architect, said "negotiations were under way for land in Black Diamond Street so it could be developed for housing for this purpose". The plan never came to pass
As a result of reading these articles, John Walker, a member of the Society, has written his reminiscences as a boy growing up in Faulkner Street in the post-World War 2 years (John Walker Reminiscences).
- Article by Ralph Earlam, some parts of which were initially published in ‘Hoole Roundabout’ in April and May 2015 - http://www.hooleroundabout.com