Preston Guild Wheel
The Guild Wheel is a remarkable stretch of green belt circumnavigating the city – and a tribute to the only town left...Preston Guild Wheel
There’s plenty to recommend the place, though , from its Grade I and II listed buildings to its nightlife. Go out on the tiles with the locals and you’ll be treated to a no-nonsense night out: plenty of booze, plenty of clubs and no long sleeves allowed if you don’t want to be called a soft southerner. The university (UCL or University of Central Lancashire) has injected fresh student life into the city, and a programme of improvements that began in the 1960s is still going on.
Preston’s prouder history dates from the northern textile boom of the Industrial Revolution, when the town was seen as a gentrified place full of high toned merchant princes. Richard Arkwright, whose spinning frame caused the textile revolution, was born here. Preston boomed once, and locals are proud of its story.Read more
Preston Railway Station
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Visit Preston and you’re visiting the home of legendary Preston North End, the fourth most successful club in English footballing history and the winners of the first ever league trophy. North End won the Double in the 1888 to 1889 season, and still hold the record for the biggest ever win in competitive football, smashing rivals Hyde by 26 goals to nothing!
Preston North End
North End legend Sir Tom Finney, who played for the club between 1946 and 1960, typifies the spirit and pride of the town. Originally a plumber, Finney’s goal scoring record still stands in the area (he scored 187 times for North End, and also made goalscoring appearances for the English national team).
University of Central Lancashire
Another legacy of Preston’s proud history is the University of Central Lancashire, or UCLAN, a highly thought of centre for learning that was originally called The Institute for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (founded in Preston in 1828). Some of UCLAN’s original buildings still house parts of the campus, including the magnificent Harris Building (dating from 1897), which was named for Edmund Robert Harris, a Preston based lawyer whose bequests helped the university to expand.
The student population is responsible for much of Preston’s more interesting nightlife – there’s a fresh and funky vibe around the campus, and regular band and club nights at the student’s union and in student venues across the city inject life and colour into Friday and Saturday nights! The university’s cultural effects are widely felt, too: as the only learning institution in the country to run a feature film model, UCLAN is slowly reinventing Preston as a place where the visual arts are flourishing; and the student newspaper, Pluto, is one of the best regarded in the country. Thanks to the practical journalism courses taught at UCLAN, Preston students frequently go on to work in the media, and the Guardian voted the student rag the best in the country in 1998.
Preston’s not the biggest city in the north, it’s not the boldest and it isn’t the best recovered from the post-industrial slump of the later 20th century. But thanks to its pride, and its investment in education, it’s getting there.
Blackpool airport connects Preston with party people from key destinations in Ireland and Spain – and you can catch international flights from Liverpool or Manchester, both close enough to be within driving distance.
There are five motorways connected to Preston, including the legendary M6 – one of the longest in the UK. The stretch of M6 passing Preston was originally a part of the first ever motorway in Britain.
National bus networks connect with Preston – some companies offer extremely low fares to travel to London, despite the long journey.
If you don’t want to drive into Preston city centre, you can use one of the two park and ride locations on the edges of town. One is at Walton le Dale, and the other is at Preston Portway.
Local buses are mainly operated by two firms: Fishwicks, and Stagecoach. There are plenty of taxi companies in the city. Minicabs should be booked in advance to ensure you are using a registered cab.
It’s possible to get around the centre of Preston on foot, and recommended on a sunny day. The city’s many old buildings are the perfect backdrop to a summer stroll. Pass the Harris Museum in the Market Square for a close look at a glorious Grade I listed building: and pop in for a history lesson on the area. The Harris Museum’s imposing columns and portico, surrounded by trees and right in the middle of town, are extremely impressive.
Preston North End
Don’t forget to pay homage to the first football team ever to win the League: Preston North End, whose Deepdale stadium is the original theatre of dreams. Forget Manchester United and Manchester City – North end’s unbeaten run in 1889 is still one of the landmark achievements in the game, as is their huge 26-0 victory over Hyde in an early FA cup (1887).
Preston’s heyday started during the Industrial Revolution, when the locally invented water frame revolutionised the cotton industry.
There followed a golden age of prosperity and invention, in which metropolitan innovations like gas lighting (Preston was the second English town – London was the first – to be gas lit) vied with social unrest caused by extreme working conditions to create a melting pot of ideas and accidents. The fictional city of Coketown (Hard Times) is based on Preston, after a visit made by Charles Dickens to the area in 1854.
The Harris Museum
The Harris Museum is the city’s most iconic historic building, opened to the public as a purpose built museum and gallery in the late 19th century. It is now a Grade I listed building.
Preston didn’t share the fate of most northern industrial towns – being bombed to smithereens during the Second World War – but it was hit by another disaster. As the city’s core industry of textile manufacturing fell casualty to the availability of cheaper workers, Preston entered a slump that would last for many years. Its poor families were move out of the slum areas in the middle of the city, and rehomed in council houses on the edges of the area. Modern Preston has begun by demolishing and rebuilding many of its post-war monstrosities, replacing tired or poorly planned buildings with bright, large shopping centres.
It’s not just Preston’s streets that have become a viable location for a visit. Just outside the city lies the Lancashire coast, and the rolling hills of Cumbria and the Lake District aren’t far away.
Places of Worship
Preston has become increasingly cosmopolitan in recent decades, and now boasts a fine selection of religions and places of worship. Some of its churches are quite remarkably preserved, including St John’s Minster (also known as the Minster Church of St John the Baptist).
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