The buildings housing the small shops are thought to date from the 17th Century and possibly even earlier. There used to be a well at the bottom of the incline where the Howty Brook ran over the street rather than under it as it does now. The name Duke Street is a corruption of “Duck Street” and presumably these birds swam and paddled in the Howty Brook.
It is thought from the way in which the houses are built, that Little Street was formerly steps in a narrow way which was widened in the early 1800s. Whether it was ever what was known locally as a “ticklebelly entry” is unfortunately not recorded. John Beckett, who was taking down houses on Duck Street and Clay Bank as part of the widening process of streets in this part of town, was the subject of discussions in the Town Council who were concerned by the narrowness of the streets. The Council decided that Mr Beckett and others who were interested in the said buildings should be encouraged to keep the streets as wide as possible and, presumably, not rebuild some of the demolished houses. The same Minutes show that any person who wheeled a truck or a wheelbarrow on any of the flagged or other footways of this Borough” should, for every offence pay a fine of two shillings and sixpence. Driving on and obstructing footpaths was clearly as big an issue as it is in modern Congleton!
It is also possible that Little Street formed one side of a triangular market area, with Duke Street and Swan Bank making up the other sides.