Insight into history of the Pall Mall site

St George's school from Market Street with the Church Institute on the right
St George's school from Market Street with the Church Institute on the right
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A reader whose father was the headmaster at a former Chorley school, and whose firm helped engineer the landmark shop which went on to stand in its place, has given the Guardian further insight into the area.

Tony Rigby has helped shed some light on the QS Fashions site in Pall Mall, as the final stages of demolition work take place to finally raze the building to the ground.

He said: “The main part of the site was originally occupied by St George’s CE Primary School which I attended, and which my father G R (Rex) Rigby was headmaster from the end of the Second World War until his retirement in the 1960s.

“He was also a long-serving town councillor, Alderman and Mayor in 1961-62.

“The remainder of the site was occupied by St George’s Institute, the fire station, ambulance station and abattoir.

“The site was cleared in 1989 and developed by the United Co-Operative as a superstore selling everything from furniture to food.

“The first floor was occupied by the Co-Operative Insurance organisation.

“The Co-Op was subsequently closed and the building was eventually occupied by QS Fashions.

“The building now being demolished was engineered by my practice, Rigby and Partners LLP based in Chorley.

“It is with some regret that I now see some very clever and skilled design efforts on a very complex building being simply obliterated.”

He also told how the Guardian’s former editor George Birtill became involved during the clearance of the old school, when some mysterious deep shafts and tunnels were unearthed.

He recalls that the ground conditions were very poor, and required extensive piling of the foundations.