Preston, Lancashire

This article is about the urban settlement in Lancashire, England. For the larger local government district, see City of Preston, Lancashire. For other uses, see Preston.

Preston Flag Market, including Sessions House, the Cenotaph and Harris Museum

Arms of the City Council
 Preston shown within Lancashire
Population 122,719 (Including Fulwood, which makes up the whole unparished area, 2011)
Shire countyLancashire
RegionNorth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town PRESTON
Postcode district PR1-PR2
Dialling code 01772
Police Lancashire
Fire Lancashire
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK ParliamentPreston
Wyre and Preston North
List of places

Coordinates: 53°45′32″N 2°41′56″W / 53.759°N 2.699°W / 53.759; -2.699

Preston i/ˈprɛstən/ is a city and the administrative centre of Lancashire, England. On the north bank of the River Ribble, it is an urban settlement and unparished area that together with surrounding rural civil parishes forms the City of Preston local government district of Lancashire. The district obtained city status in 2002, becoming England's 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.[1] Preston has a population of 114,300, the City of Preston district 132,000[2] and the Preston Built-up Area 313,322.[3] The Preston Travel To Work Area, in 2011, had a population of 420,661[4] compared to 354,000 in the previous census.

Preston and its surrounding area have provided evidence of ancient Roman activity, largely in the form of a Roman road which led to a camp at Walton-le-Dale. The Angles established Preston; its name is derived from the Old English meaning "priest's settlement" and in the Domesday Book is recorded as "Prestune". In the Middle Ages, Preston was 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 since the mid-13th century when locally produced wool was woven in people's houses. Flemish weavers who settled in the area in the 14th century helped develop the industry. In the early-18th century, Edmund Calamy described Preston as "a pretty town with an abundance of gentry in it, commonly called Proud Preston".[5] Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning frame, was born in the town. The most rapid period of growth and development 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 terminal decline 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, houses the main campus of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and is home to Preston North End F.C., a founder member of the Football League and the first English football champions.


Preston is recorded in the Domesday Book as "Prestune" in 1086.[6] Various other spellings occur in early documents: "Prestonam" (1094), "Prestone" (1160), "Prestona" (1160), "Presteton" (1180), and "Prestun" (1226). The modern spelling occurs in 1094, 1176, 1196, 1212 and 1332.[7] The town's name is derived from Old English Presta and Tun, the Tun (enclosure, farmstead, village, manor, estate)[8] of the Presta (priest or priests).[9]


Main article: History of Lancashire

Early development

During the Roman period, Roman roads passed close to what is now the centre of Preston. For example, the road from Luguvalium to Mamucium (now Carlisle to Manchester) crossed the River Ribble at Walton-le-Dale, 34 mile (1 km) southeast of the centre of Preston, and a Roman camp or station may also have been here.[10][11] At Withy Trees, 1 12 miles (2 km) north of Preston, the road crossed another Roman road from Bremetennacum (the Roman fort at Ribchester) to the coast.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

Guild Merchant

2012 Preston Guild roadside emblem

The right to hold a Guild Merchant was conferred by King Henry II upon the Burgesses of Preston in a charter of 1179; the associated Preston Guild is a civic celebration held every 20 years and 2012 was the latest Guild year. It is the only Guild still celebrated in the UK and is thus unique.[15]

Before 1328 a celebration had been held on an irregular basis, but at the guild of that year it was decreed that subsequent guilds should be held every 20 years. After this, there were breaks in the pattern for various reasons, but an unbroken series were held from 1542 to 1922. A full 400 year sequence was frustrated by the cancellation of the 1942 Guild due to World War II, but the cycle resumed in 1952. The expression '(Once) every Preston Guild', meaning 'very infrequently', has passed into fairly common use, especially in Lancashire.

Guild week is always started by the opening of the Guild Court, which since the 16th century has traditionally been on the first Monday after the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (the decollation of St John the Baptist) celebrated on 29 August. As well as concerts and other exhibitions, the main events are a series of processions through the city. Numerous street parties are held in the locality.

In 1952 the emphasis was on the bright new world emerging after the war. The major event, held in the city's Avenham Park, had every school participating, and hundreds of children, from toddlers to teenagers, demonstrated different aspects of physical education in the natural amphitheatre of the park.

In 1972 participants at the Avenham Park celebrations were treated to a low level, low speed, flypast by Concorde.

The 2012 Guild formally opened on 2 September with a mayoral proclamation and the return of "friendship scrolls" that had travelled the world.[16] Highlights in the programme for the 2012 celebration included two concerts in Avenham Park - one by Human League and another, a "Proms In The Park", featuring José Carreras, Katherine Jenkins and the Manchester Camerata.

Pre-Industrial Preston

Plaque in Fox Street commemorating the work of Reverend Joseph Dunn in bringing gas lighting to the town

In the mid-12th century, Preston was in the hundred of Amounderness, in the deanery of Amounderness and the archdeaconry of Richmond. The name "Amounderness" is more ancient than the name of any other "Wapentake" or hundred in the County of Lancashire, and the fort at Tulketh, strengthened by William the Conqueror, shows that the strategic importance of the area was appreciated even then.[17]

The location of the city, almost exactly midway between Glasgow and London, led to many decisive battles being fought here, most notably during the English Civil War at the Battle of Preston (1648), and then the first Jacobite rebellion, whose invasion of England was brought to a conclusion by the defeat of the pro-Catholic and pro-monarchial Jacobite army at the Battle of Preston (1715).

Preston in 1774

In the last great Jacobite Rising, on 27 November 1745 the Jacobite Prince of Wales and Regent, Bonnie Prince Charlie passed through Preston with his Highland Army on the way south through Chorley and Manchester to Derby intending to take London and the Crown. Preston was the first of quite a few places in England where the Prince was cheered as he rode by and where he was joined by some English volunteers for his Army. One Jacobite eyewitness noted that from Preston onwards, "at every town we were received with ringing of bells, and at night we have bonfires, and illuminations".[18] Another Jacobite eyewitness noted in a private letter from Preston on 27 November 1745: "People here are beginning to join [us] very fast; we have got about sixty recruits today".[19] From 10 to 12 December the Prince gave his retreating Army a rest in Preston on their long, last and fatal retreat from Derby through Lancaster and Carlisle to their dreadful day of destiny the following 16 April on Culloden Moor near Inverness.[20]

Industrial Revolution

The 19th century saw a transformation in Preston from a small market town to a much larger industrial one, as the innovations of the latter half of the previous century such as Richard Arkwright's water frame (invented in Preston) brought cotton mills to many northern English towns. With industrialisation came examples of both oppression and enlightenment.

The town's forward-looking spirit is typified by it being the first English town outside London to be lit by gas. The Preston Gas Company was established in 1815 by, amongst others, a Catholic priest: Rev. Joseph "Daddy" Dunn of the Society of Jesus.

The more oppressive side of industrialisation was seen during the Preston Strike of 1842 on Saturday 13 August 1842, when a group of cotton workers demonstrated against the poor conditions in the town's mills. The Riot Act was read and armed troops corralled the demonstrators in front of the Corn Exchange on Lune Street. Shots were fired and four of the demonstrators were killed. A commemorative sculpture now stands on the spot (although the soldiers and demonstrators represented are facing the wrong way). In the 1850s, Karl Marx visited Preston and later described the town as "the next St Petersburg".[21] Charles Dickens visited Preston in January 1854 during a strike by cotton workers that had by that stage lasted for 23 weeks. This was part of his research for the novel Hard Times in which the town of "Coketown" is based on the city of Preston.

Fishergate and the Town Hall clock tower in about 1904

The Preston Temperance Society, led by Joseph Livesey pioneered the Temperance 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.[22]

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.

Preston since the early 20th century

By 1901, nearly 120,000 people were living in Preston, now a booming industrial town. However, the centuries-old cotton industry collapsed after the end of World War I in 1918, resulting in a sharp rise in unemployment across Preston.

New industries arrived in Preston during the interwar years which helped ease the pain felt through the sharp decline of the cotton industry. Electrical goods manufacturing and engineering arrived in the town, and the building sector enjoyed a boom with nearly 3,000 council houses being built between 1920 and 1939. Some 1,500 houses were built for private sale.

Despite its heavy industry, Preston endured only a handful of Luftwaffe air raids in World War II and there were no fatalities in the town, although an air crash in the Freckleton district claimed the lives of 61 people in 1944.

For some 20 years after 1948, Preston became home to a significant number of Asian and Caribbean Commonwealth immigrants, who mostly worked in the manufacturing industry. However, an economic decline hit the town once again in the 1970s, capped by the closure of the Courtaulds factory in 1979 (nearly 3,000 job losses) and the decline of the docks on the River Ribble, which finally closed in 1981. Mass unemployment was firmly back in Preston by the early 1980s, although it was now very much a national crisis due to the recession of that time.

The rehousing of families from town centre slums to new council houses continued after World War II, though it slowed down to a virtual standstill after 1975. The face of the town centre began to change in the 1960s, with old developments being bulldozed and replaced by modern developments such as the St George's Shopping Centre, which opened in 1966, and the Fishergate Shopping Centre which was built nearly 20 years later. The remains of the Victorian town hall, designed by George Gilbert Scott and mostly destroyed by fire in 1947, were replaced by an office block (Crystal House) in 1962, and a modern-architecture Guild Hall opened in 1972, to replace the Public Hall.

The town was by-passed by Britain's very first motorway which opened in 1958 and within a decade formed part of the M6 – giving Preston a direct motorway link with Manchester and Birmingham. The late 1960s saw the completion of Ringway, a bypass around the town centre, as well as a new bus station.[23]

On 6 April 2012 the city's residents performed the Preston Passion, a dramatised version of the Passion of Christ, which was broadcast live by BBC One.[24]


Further information: City of Preston, Lancashire

The unparished urban settlement of Preston is represented by 19 of the 22 council wards within Preston City Council. Preston is currently divided between two Westminster constituencies, namely Preston and Wyre and Preston North. The Lancashire County Council building is located on Fishergate and is the main office for Lancashire, Preston Council Buildings are found on Lancaster Road.


Regions of Preston
Further information: List of places in Preston

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 53°45′N 2°42′W / 53.750°N 2.700°W / 53.750; -2.700, 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 the Local 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.


The climate of Preston is of a temperate maritime type, with a narrow range of temperatures, similar to the rest of the British Isles. Being relatively close to the Irish sea, this is more pronounced than areas to the south and east of Preston. The official Met Office weather station is located at Moor Park, less than 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the city centre, and surrounded by built up areas, suggesting a degree of urban warming is likely, particularly during clear and calm nights.

The absolute high recorded at the weather station was 33.1 °C (91.6 °F)[25] during August 1990. In a typical year the warmest day should reach 27.6 °C (81.7 °F)[26] and 5.9 days[27] in total should attain a maximum temperature of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or more. In October 2011, a new record October high temperature of 26.9 °C was set.[28]

The absolute minimum is −13.3 °C (8.1 °F), recorded during February 1969.[29] In a typical year the coldest night should fall to −6.8 °C (19.8 °F),[30] and 40.2 nights[31] should receive an air frost. The lowest temperature in recent years was −9.2 °C (15.4 °F)[32] during December 2010.

Annual rainfall totals just under 1000 mm per year,[33] with over 1 mm of precipitation falling on 150 days.[34] All averages refer to the period 1971–2000.

Climate data for Preston Moor Park, elevation 33 m, 1971–2000, extremes 1960–2005
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.1
Average high °C (°F) 6.9
Average low °C (°F) 1.7
Record low °C (°F) −11.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 93.83
Average snowy days 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 9
Source: KNMI[35]


Further information: City of Preston, Lancashire


St. John's Minster on Church Street
Jamea Masjid close to Preston City Centre

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." [36] 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.[37]

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.[38] 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.

In July 2016, St Ignatius Church in Preston, which had been gifted by the Catholic Diocese of Lancaster to the Syro-Malabar Catholic community, was raised to the status of a Cathedral by Pope Francis. It now serves as the seat of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Great Britain [39][40]

Built in 1826 for the Calvinistic Methodists of Lady Huntington, the Carey Baptist church, on Pole Street, was formerly known as St Paul's Chapel. It was purchased by the Baptists in 1855. The church survives today and remains very active in the community.[41]

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.[42] One of the many large active Roman Catholic parish churches is St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs, located on Garstang Road.[43]

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.[44] 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 Telegraph newspaper as "spectacular".[45] 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 Gujarati Indian 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.

The 2001 Census recorded 72% of the population of the City of Preston as Christians, 10% as having no religion, and 8% as Muslims.[46] The Hindu and Sikh populations are smaller at 3% and 0.6% respectively, but in both cases this represents the highest percentage of any local authority area in the North West. 2% of the city's population were born in other EU countries. Though still small in number in Preston, the Mormons maintain a large profile.

Preston has places of worship for people of a wide variety of religions, including churches of many Christian denominations. There are also places of worship for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Sikhs and The Salvation Army, amongst others. Preston was also home to an Ashkenazi Orthodox Jewish synagogue on Avenham Place, formed in 1882, but this closed during the mid-1980s.[47]


A panoramic view of Preston, viewed from Penwortham Lane.

St Walburge's Church, designed by Joseph Hansom of Hansom Cab fame, has, at 94 metres (308 ft), the tallest spire in England on a church that is not a cathedral.[48] There are also many notable buildings dotted in and around the city centre including the Miller Arcade, the Town Hall, the Harris Museum, the Minster Church of St. John the Evangelist (formerly Preston Parish Church, elevated to Minster church status in June 2003), the former Corn Exchange and Public Hall, St. Wilfrid's Catholic Church, Fishergate Baptist Church, and many beautiful Georgian buildings on Winckley Square. Many Catholic and Anglican parish churches are also to be found throughout the city. HMP Preston is also a good example of a typical Victorian radial-design prison. Modern architecture is represented by the Guild Hall and Preston Bus Station, which was featured on the 2012 World Monument Fund's list of sites at risk due to threats of demolition,[49][50] before becoming Grade II listed.

Museums Parks Nature reserves
  • Grange Valley
  • Hills and Hollows
  • Pope Lane Field and Boilton Wood
  • Fishwick Nature Reserve

Listed buildings

Grade I Grade II* Grade II

and hundreds more[51]

The chimney of the Grade II listed Tulketh Mill, recently fully exposed on the Blackpool Road, provides an impressive reminder of Preston's industrial heritage. The mill itself, designed by engineer Fred Dixon of Bolton for the Tulketh Spinning Company, dates from 1905.[52] The huge chimney has been lowered twice – in the 1930s and again in the 1960s.


The Corn Exchange, entrance to the former Public Hall, Lune Street

Preston is a major centre of the British defence aerospace industry with BAE Systems, the UK's principal military aircraft design, development and manufacture supplier, having its Military Aircraft headquarters located in nearby Warton. The company has two of its major facilities located some miles on either side of the city. BAE Warton is located to the western side of the city whilst BAE Samlesbury is located to the east, over the M6 motorway. BAe Systems also operate large office facilities at the Portway area within the city and at The Strand office complex.

The Westinghouse Electric Company (formerly BNFL) Springfields nuclear processing plant also lies to the west of the city boundary at Salwick.

The city is home to Alstom Transport's main UK spare parts distribution centre (formerly GEC Traction Ltd). Matalan Retail Ltd was also founded in Preston under the name Matalan Cash and Carry. Although the head office of Matalan moved to Skelmersdale in 1998, the city still has the tax office for the company (located in Winckley Square).

Fishergate, Preston's main shopping district

Haulage supplier and operator James Hall and Co who supply produce for Spar stores in the north of England have their head office located just off the M6 Junction 31a at Bowland View. This is the biggest building in the city of Preston.[53]

The financial sector also has a large presence in the city with a large selection of consultancies, insurance and law firms including national debt collection agency iQor Recovery Services Ltd. based in Winckley Square in the city centre.

Goss Graphic Systems Limited, a global supplier of printing presses based in the United States, formerly employed more than 1,000 people in Preston, but in 2007 the company moved manufacturing to the United States, China and Japan and now has around 160 employees in the city.[54]

On 20 February 2006, the telecommunications company The Carphone Warehouse took over Tulketh Mill (formerly the home of the Littlewoods catalogue call centre) in the Ashton-on-Ribble area of the city. The building has undergone an extensive interior refurbishment and since March 2007 has been the workplace of some 800 employees. The site's main purpose is as a call centre for the broadband and landline services provider TalkTalk as well as LLU business Opal Telecom. The site also houses call centres for Geek Squad and Best Buy both of which along with The Carphone Warehouse are now part of Best Buy Europe. It was officially opened on 19 December 2006 by CEO Charles Dunstone and the Mayor of Preston.

Skiddle is an event ticketing operation based in Preston since 2001, which claims to be the UK's largest what's on guide.

Due to Preston's location as a transport hub, sitting between the M6, M55, M65, and M61 it is home to several freight and haulage companies.

The Riversway area (in the Ashton-on-Ribble area of the city) is also home to the Preston docklands, which has undergone redevelopment. Several office areas around the docks, along with significant residential presence. Several small businesses such as the Football League's LFE headquarters[55] are based in the area, together with Riversway Developments[56] who have been responsible for some of this redevelopment.

North Road approaches the city centre from the north

Retail is also a major contributor to Preston's economy. The city houses two major shopping centres:

Another shopping centre in Preston is the Miller Arcade, a specialist shopping centre in a listed building, which formerly included public baths, situated next to the Harris Museum.

Preston's main high streets are Fishergate and Friargate which offer shops, bars and restaurants with many more tucked away down the side streets. The first Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in the UK was opened on Fishergate in 1965.[57]

An £800 million[58] regeneration project known as the Tithebarn Project was also planned for Preston. The project was originally managed by property giants Grosvenor and Lend Lease Corporation, Grosvenor withdrew from the project,[59] followed a few years later by Lend Lease. The project was dependent upon a number of requirements (such as the re-location of the current Bus Station, which would cost at least £25million, and be funded largely by the taxpayer).[60] In November 2011, it was announced that John Lewis, who were originally intended to be the major flagship store of the Tithebarn development had also withdrawn from the project, effectively killing it.[61] The council is now exploring more piecemeal ways of bringing in development.[62]

Since city status was awarded in the Queen's Jubilee year, Preston was targeted by a number of developers. Residential developments were particularly popular with new apartments planned in and around the city centre. Many of these developments however are still struggling to find buyers for these apartments, and there are rising numbers of repossessions.[63] Office and hotel space is also in demand and a new Central Business District is being planned as well as a number of new hotels.

Unemployment in Preston rose 15% in the year up to April 2012 to a total of 3,783 claimants.[64]



The M6 Motorway at Junction 29
Main article: Transport in Preston

The Preston by-pass, opened 5 December 1958, became the first stretch of motorway in the UK and is now part of the M6 with a short section now forming part of the M55. It was built to ease traffic congestion in Preston caused by tourists travelling to the popular destinations of Blackpool and The Lake District. The first traffic cones were used during its construction, replacing red lantern paraffin burners.

In the 1980s, a motorway running around the west of the city which would have been an extension of the M65 running to the M55 was started but never finished. That is the reason that the M55 has no junction 2, because it was reserved for the new western bypass. However, the existing M6 between junctions 30 and 32 was widened extensively between 1993–95 to compensate for this. A new junction, 31A, which has only a northbound exit and a southbound entry, was opened in 1997 to serve a new business park close to the motorway.

As well as the M6 (North and South), there are three other motorways which terminate close to the city:


Maxwell House
Oxheys Cattle
Railway station
Heritage railway station
Site of former railway station
Preston Railway Station

Preston railway station was opened in 1838 and has since been rebuilt and extended several times. It is a major stop on the West Coast Main Line, with long distance train services to London (Euston) in the South and Glasgow and Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William to the North. Preston is also a hub for connecting rail services in the North West, with direct services to Blackpool, Lancaster, Blackburn, Bradford, Leeds, Wigan, Bolton, Manchester, Liverpool and Ormskirk. Overall, Preston has direct rail links to fifteen cities across the UK; Liverpool, Manchester, Salford, Leeds, York, Bradford, London, Carlisle, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Lancaster, Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Preston once had lines to Southport and Longridge which closed to passengers in 1965 and 1930 respectively. The disused tracks of the Longridge line still exist as far as Deepdale. In 2010 plans were put forward to use part of this line for a demonstration tram system.[65]

A railway station on the Preston to Blackpool railway line at Cottam is proposed as part of the Preston City Plan.

Preston is the home of the heritage Ribble Steam Railway, located in Riversway.


The River Ribble, with the dock entrance to the left

The former Preston Port, known as Riversway or the Docks, has been the site of an expanding commercial and residential complex since 1988.

The Marina is just north of the River Ribble which enters into the east of the Irish Sea. This marina has its own chandlery and coffee shop, training courses and boat sales.

There are multimillion-pound plans to redevelop Preston's docks (as well as large sections of the River Ribble running through the city) to introduce leisure facilities (watersports), new landmark buildings, a new central park opposite Avenham Park, office and retail space, new residential developments and the re-opening of some of Preston's old canal. However, these plans, collectively known as Riverworks, have yet to undergo public consultation, and have already raised concerns amongst locals due to the potential loss of green space and increased risk of flooding.[66]


Preston Bus Station

Although lacking any rail based rapid transit network, Preston has a very comprehensive bus network. There are five main operators serving Preston.

Preston Bus, formerly the city's municipal bus company, used to serve the district of Preston, and also operated a route between Preston and Penwortham. In October 2006, Preston Bus started operating the city's two new orbital bus routes.[67]

Many of the services between Preston and its surrounding area were operated by Ribble Motor Services, which became part of the Stagecoach Group, using the name Stagecoach in Lancashire. Several of the company's routes were additionally branded as "Preston Citi"; they connected the bus station to areas of the city such as Fulwood and Ribbleton, and nearby locations such as Penwortham, Longton, Walton-le-dale, Walmer Bridge, New Longton, Bamber Bridge, Longridge, Southport and Leyland. Stagecoach also provided links to Blackpool, Blackburn, Bolton, Chorley, Liverpool, Manchester and Wigan as well as Lancaster and Morecambe under the Stagecoach in Lancaster service.

Competition for routes and passengers resulted in a "Bus War" between the two companies, since buses were deregulated in Great Britain.

On 23 January 2009, Preston Bus was sold to Stagecoach[68] for over £10.4 million. Routes were changed and the services were branded as Stagecoach in Preston. Following a lengthy investigation which began soon after the takeover, the Competition Commission ruled on 11 November 2009 that the action by Stagecoach had adversely affected competition in the area and ordered the sell-off of Preston Bus. In January 2011, the Rotala Group announced they had agreed a deal to take over Preston Bus.[68]

Blackburn Bus Company, part of the Transdev group, operates the 152 "Hotline" route to Blackburn and Burnley. An independent company, John Fishwick & Sons, that provided frequent services into the city centre for Lower Penwortham, Lostock Hall, Leyland, Euxton and Chorley, ceased trading in October 2015.

Preston also has its own park and ride with two sites; one at Portway, in the Riversway area, and another just off the A6 at Walton-le-Dale.

Preston is also served by many national bus services. Stagecoach Express, National Express, Eurolines, and Megabus all have a presence at Preston Bus Station – which is claimed by some residents to be the largest or second largest station in Europe.[69]

Preston was one of the first cities in the UK to have its bus network fitted with Realtime, a satellite based technology fitted to every bus stop which aims to provide an accurate time and destination of the next bus arriving using GPS tracking.[70] This service was initially restricted to services within the borough, and was then expanded to cover Fishwick's 111 City Centre/Leyland route due to its popularity, though in 2011 it was discontinued,[71] but resumed on some routes in 2013.


Although not a public airport, Warton Aerodrome is an active airfield west of the city and is the airfield for the BAE Warton factory. BAE Samlesbury to the east of the town was an active aerodrome, with a gliding club, but today serves as a facility for BAE Systems and no longer supports flying activities.

Preston has a choice of 3 airports with airline service within one hour of the city. Blackpool International Airport is located 16 miles (26 km) west from the city, providing links to Belfast and the Isle Of Man. Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport are international airports about 40 miles (64 km) south-west and south-east of the city respectively.

All three of these airports are accessible from the central train station, Blackpool from the Colne-Blackpool South line (Squires Gate), Manchester Airport from the Blackpool North-Manchester Airport line (Manchester Airport), and Liverpool John Lennon Airport from any train to Liverpool South Parkway, which has a shuttle bus to the terminal.

Walking and cycling

The Guild Wheel is a public footpath and cycle route, created in 2012 in celebration of the Preston Guild and officially opened in August of that year.[72] 21 miles (34 km) in length, it encircles Preston, linking the city to the countryside and surrounding villages.[73]


The city is home to the University of Central Lancashire. Formerly known as The Harris Institute, Preston Polytechnic, and more recently (1985–1992) as Lancashire Polytechnic, "UCLan" is now the sixth largest university in the country, with over 33,000 students.[74]

Colleges of further and higher education

High schools


Preston FM Logo

Preston has a number of local radio stations:

Other regional stations which include Preston within their coverage include:

The Lancashire Evening Post is based in Fulwood.

Blog Preston[75] is a hyperlocal news website which provides community news, views and information about the city.[76][77]

Television is provided by ITV Granada, the ITV franchise holder for the North West region, BBC North West, the regional BBC station for the North West region, and a local TV service for Blackpool and Preston, That's Lancashire, from studios at the Northern Lights Business Centre in the University of Central Lancashire's Media Factory building.


Preston North End F.C.

Deepdale Stadium, home of Preston North End F.C.
Preston North End in 1888–89, the first Football League champions, subsequently doing 'The Double'

Preston North End F.C. were one of the founder members of the Football League and the first team to be crowned English football champions.[78] They play at Deepdale Football Ground which was also the original site of the National Football Museum. The museum closed in 2011 in preparation for its move to Manchester due to funding issues.

Dick, Kerr's Ladies, one of the most famous early women's football teams in Britain, called Preston home. Preston were champions of the Football League in its first two seasons, but have not won it since. Their last major trophy came in 1938 when they won the FA Cup, and they have not played top division football since 1961. They are one of the few English league clubs to have been champions of all four tiers of the English professional league.

Other sports

England Test Cricket player Andrew Flintoff is a Preston native, and was granted freedom of the city following the Ashes victory of 2005.

Preston Grasshoppers RFC play in the National Division Two North, the third tier of English rugby union.

Preston is also the home of Lancashire's first roller derby league. The local team, Preston Roller Girls, have been playing since 2011.

Preston Hockey Club was established in 1903.

The Preston Arena is used for cycle racing. The Preston Arena is frequently used by the University of Central Lancashire, based in Preston.

The Preston Mountaineering Club is based in the town and has been in existence for over 70 years.

Speedway racing, then known as Dirt Track Racing was staged at Farringdon Park in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Preston team raced in the English Dirt Track League of 1929 and the Northern League of 1930 and 1931. The best known rider of the team was Joe "Iron Man" Abbott who went on to Test Match successes riding before the war for Belle Vue. After the war Joe appeared for Harringay and Bradford.

There is a bowling centre at Greenbank Street.[79]

Notable people

Twin cities/towns

  • NetherlandsAlmelo, Netherlands. 2008 was the 60th anniversary of this twinning.
  • PolandKalisz, Poland. 2009 was the 20th anniversary of this twinning.
  • FranceNîmes, France[85]
  • GermanyRecklinghausen, Germany. 2016 marked the 60th anniversary.


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