Whiff of history as iconic Preston tobacconist shop to become trendy bar

A famous Victorian tobacco business will be saluted in plans for a trendy new bar in Preston city centre.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 9:34 am

The name of WH & J Woods, which once employed more than 200 workers locally, will be incorporated in a venue called Hopwoods on the corner of Church Street and Avenham Street.

The proposed bar/restaurant is earmarked for the former premises of the Woods tobacconist shop which served Preston' s smokers for decades.

And it will include the historic red brick facade on the side of the building which has looked tired and neglected for years.

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The historic facade of WH & J Woods will be preserved.

Plans to refurbish the building and turn it into Preston's latest hospitality venue have just been submitted to the city council.

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A planning report submitted by local architects Studio John Bridge says the bar/restaurant has been designed to "respect the historic nature of the building."

It says that the brief was "to create a design which references previous iconic Woods signage.

The shop in Church Street is a former Subway and most recently housed the Zeus takeaway.

"The proposal seeks to create a bar which will specialise in selling multiple varieties of craft beers as well as cocktails.

"This type of establishment calls for a stylish and contemporary aesthetic."

The Woods tobacco business in Preston was founded by John Woods Snr in the early 1800s. The company had a factory in Derby Street, off Church Street, with a sizeable workforce.

Sons William Henry and John Jnr took over the business and built it up to be one of the largest tobacco firms in the North West.

It produced its own tobaccos including Goschen Navy Cut, Perfection Flake, Purple Heather Mixture, Devona Flake, Virginia Brown Flake, Too Good Gold Flake and Woods Famous Preston Twist.

The firm also produced its own varieties of cigarettes including Denver Juniors.

Woods eventually changed hands several times - each one keeping its original name - and eventually closed in 1978 after almost 90 years in the same shop on Church Street.

The building has since been a shop and several takeaways including Subway and most recently Zeus.

The planning document submitted with the application says the proposed revamp will "utilise the existing fabric as much as possible."

It will incorporate some exterior white tiles which "call back to the glazed brick that was used frequently in this type of bar/pub in the Victorian era."