St Martins Way
The Inner Ring Road continues northward along Nicholas Street on top of the line of the western wall of Roman Chester and crosses Watergate Street into St Martins Way (previously Linenhall Street) to reach and cut through, the City Walls again at St Martins Gate.
Seacome (writing in 1828) describes the church which stood hereabouts as follows:
- "Formerly called St Martin's of the Ash stands at the west end of White Friars and Cuppings Lane. It appears to have been an ancient foundation for it is mentioned in a deed in the year 1250 wherein Bernard de Trannuille releases to Philip le Clerk a rent of 12d arising from premises situate "near the church of St Martin in Chester". The old church mentioned in this deed having fallen into decay was rebuilt in 1721 as we learn from an inscription on the front of the steeple. It is a remarkably small but very neat structure pointed with stone at the angles and finishings. The interior is handsomely fitted up and is capable of accommodating about 250 sitters. The open ground in front of this church bears the name of "Martin's Ash" derived in all liklihood from the circumstance of an ash tree having formerly stood on the spot."
On 27 April 1842 the district was united with that of Chester: St Bridget to form the combined district of "St. Bridget with St. Martin", which in January 1973 itself became part of a unified district for the city of Chester. St Martin's closed in 1963 and was demolished to make way for the Inner Ring Road around 1969 - a nearby part of which is known as "St Martin's Way". Work on the Inner Ring Road involved demolishing a large tract of properties through Nicholas Street and Watergate Street. A full history of the ring-road and an excellent gallery of pictures is to be found on ChesterWalls.info.
However, controversy about this road goes back further than the 1960's. Hughes writes as follows:
- "Returning to Watergate Street we see before us Linen Hall Street called formerly Lower Lane from its being at one time the last street on this side of the city. There is nothing to interest us in this street which terminates with St Martin's in the Fields at the rear of the Gaol and General Infirmary. So late as the sixteenth century there was at the further end of this street an ancient Church quoted in old deeds as the Church of St Chad but the place thereof is now nowhere to be found."
Hemingway (writing in 1831) is even more disparaging:
- "A little higher in the street is Lower lane a miserable receptacle of vice chiefly inhabited by the lowest order of people. At the corner of this street stands his Majesty's Custom house which though a building of small dimensions and miserable appearance is quite sufficient for the limited business of the port "
Linenhall street was one of the most changed places in Chester on the completion of the Inner Ring Road as it needed to be significantly widened. Major car-parks were added beneath the ground. As of the 2010's the eastern side of it is up for redevlopment again as part of the Northgate Development. One noted loss was the Yacht Inn. This stood, until the 1960's at the lower end of upper Watergate Street, when it was demolished to make way for the inner ring road. Hughes, (apparently never one to pass a decent pub by) describes it as follows:
- "A good view of Trinity Church is obtained from the end of Nicholas Street just opposite to that ancient hostelry the Yacht Inn. The Yacht is without exception the most picturesque and curious of all our Chester inns. Time was when it was the first hotel of the city and even now grown grey with long and faithful service lacks nothing that can render it a fit home for the wayfarer whom chance or design has brought to the old city. Americans who lust after the ancient and venerable and who delight in the rare timber houses of old England will do well to select snug apartments at the Yacht for its host Mr White is the very impersonation of a true British Boniface. But the Yacht apart altogether from the qualities of mine host and his well filled cellar of Huxley's Fine has other claims upon our attention. It was at this house then in the zenith of its glory that the eccentric and witty Dean Swift (who has not read his Gulliver's Travels) stayed on one of his journeys into Ireland. The Dean being of a convivial turn invited the dignitaries of the Cathedral to a supper at the Yacht but to his great mortification not one of them appeared. Disgusted at this return to his hospitality the Dean scratched with his diamond ring on one of the windows of this house the following distich not over complimentary to the church or the city;- Rotten without and mouldering within: This place and its clergy are both near akin"
Unfortuately, when the pub was demolished in the 1960's to make way for the inner ring road, no-one thought to preserve what would now be an almost priceless piece of glass.