Friargate, leading to the Harris Museum
Preston is a city and the administrative centre of Lancashire, England, located on the north bank of the River Ribble. It is an urban settlement and unparished area that when combined with surrounding ruralcivil parishes forms the City of Preston local government district of Lancashire. The whole district obtained city status in 2002, becoming England's 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. The settlement, or unparished area, of Preston has a population of 114,300, the whole City of Preston district has a population of 132,000 and the Preston built-up area has a population of 313,322.
Preston and its surroundings have provided evidence of ancient Romanactivity in the area, largely in the form of a Roman road which led to a camp at Walton-le-Dale. The Angles established Preston; the name Preston is derived from Old English words meaning "Priest settlement" and in theDomesday Book appears as "Prestune". During the Middle Ages, Preston formed a parish and township in the hundred of Amounderness and was granted a Guild Merchant charter in 1179, giving it the status of a market town. Textiles have been produced in Preston since the middle of the 13th century, when locally produced wool was woven in people's houses. Flemishweavers who settled in the area during the 14th century helped to develop the industry. In the early 18th century Edmund Calamy wrote that Preston was "a pretty town with an abundance of gentry in it, commonly called Proud Preston". Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning frame, was born in Preston. The most rapid period of growth and development in Preston's history coincided with the industrialisation and expansion of textile manufacturing. Preston was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, becoming a densely populated engineering centre, with large industrial plants.
The town's textile sector fell into a terminal decline, however, from the mid-20th century and Preston has subsequently faced similar challenges to other post-industrial northern towns, including deindustrialisation, economic deprivation and housing issues.
Preston is the seat of Lancashire County Council and home to Preston North End F.C., one of the founder members of the Football League and the first English football champions.
During the Roman period, Roman roads passed close to what is now the centre of Preston. For example, the road fromLuguvalium to Mamucium (now Carlisle to Manchester) crossed the River Ribble at Walton-le-Dale, 3⁄4 mile (1 km) southeast of the centre of Preston, and a Roman camp or station may also have been here. At Withy Trees, 1 1⁄2 miles (2 km) north of Preston, the road crossed another Roman road from Bremetennacum (the Roman fort at Ribchester) to the coast.
An explanation of the origin of the name is that the Priest's Town refers to a priory set up by St Wilfrid near the Ribble's lowest ford. This idea is supported by the similarity of the Paschal lamb on Preston's crest with that on St Wilfrid's.
When first mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book, Preston was already the most important town in Amounderness (the area of Central Lancashire between the rivers Ribble and Cocker, including The Fylde and the Forest of Bowland). When assessed for tax purposes in 1218 – 19 it was the wealthiest town in the whole county.
The Preston Temperance Society, led by Joseph Livesey pioneered theTemperance Movement in the 19th century. Indeed the term teetotalism is believed to have been coined at one of its meetings. The website of the University of Central Lancashire library has a great deal of information on Joseph Livesey and the Temperance Movement in Preston.
Preston was one of only a few industrial towns in Lancashire to have a functioning corporation (local council) in 1835 (its charter dating to 1685), and was reformed as a municipal borough by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. It became the County Borough of Preston under the Local Government Act 1888. In 1974, county boroughs were abolished, and it became part of the larger part of the new non-metropolitan district, the Borough of Preston, which also included Fulwood Urban District and much of Preston Rural District. The borough acquired city status in 2002.
The River Ribble provides a southern border for the city. The Forest of Bowland forms a backdrop to Preston to the northeast while the Fylde lies to the west. At , Preston is approximately 27 miles (43 km) north west of Manchester, 26 miles (42 km) north east of Liverpool, and 15 miles (24 km) east of the coastal town Blackpool.
The current borders came into effect on 1 April 1974, when theLocal Government Act 1972 merged the existing County Borough of Preston with Fulwood Urban District as an unparished area within the Borough of Preston. Preston was designated as part of the Central Lancashire new town in 1970.
Preston has a strong Roman Catholic Christian history and tradition, recently noted by Archbishop Vincent Nichols in his Guild 2012 Mass Homily: "The history of the Christian and Catholic faith is long and deep here in Preston." with one of the proposed derivations of its name coming from 'Priests town'. The lamb on the city shield is a biblical image of Jesus Christ, and the same image that represented 7th century bishop St Wilfrid, the city's patron saint who is historically linked to the city's establishment. The "PP" on the city shield stands for "Princeps Pacis" (Prince of Peace), another title for Christ invoking Him as protector of the city, though it is also often taken to stand for the city's nickname "Proud Preston". In fact there were originally three letters "P" on the coat of arms, with one being lost over time.
Preston lies in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster and the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn. There are at least 73 churches, chapels, missions and meeting houses, as well as 15 cemeteries and burial sites, for which records exist. A wide range of denominations are, or have been, represented in the city including: Latin Rite Catholics, Baptist, Christadelphian, Congregational, Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, Evangelical, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Society of Friends,Swedenborgian and Wesleyan Methodist.
St. John's Minster, formerly the Church of St John the Evangelist and prior to the reformation; St Wilfrid's Parish Church, is located on Church Street, in the centre of the city. From its origin it has been the parish church of Preston. The church of St George the Martyr, located on Georges Road, was founded in 1723. One of the many large active Roman Catholic parish churches is St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs, located on Garstang Road.
Preston was the location of the world's first foreign mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormons). As early as 1837 the first Mormon missionaries to Great Britain began preaching in Preston and, in particular, other small towns situated along the River Ribble. Preston is home to the world's oldest continuous branch (a small congregation) of the LDS Church. An official memorial to the church pioneers may be found in the Japanese Garden in Avenham Park. In 1998 the LDS erected a large temple at Chorley, near Preston, described by The Telegraphnewspaper as "spectacular". The temple is officially known as the Preston England Temple.
Preston has a significant Muslim (Sunni Branch, particularly Hanafi school) population, the majority of which is of GujaratiIndian descent. The Muslim population is centred in the Deepdale, Riversway, Fishwick, Fulwood and Frenchwood areas. Preston has 12 mosques: five in Deepdale & St George's, one in Frenchwood, one in Riversway, two in Adelphi and three in Fishwick.