Preston is situated in the heart of Lancashire on the north bank of the River Ribble, it obtained it’s city status in 2002, becoming England’s 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
Preston was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, becoming a densely populated engineering centre, with large industrial plants. It’s now estimated to have a population of around 122,719.
It has seen many changes over the years in regard to its local economy, shifting from a market town to the textile industry and more recently to education and research.
Preston’s economic progression through water…
Preston’s economic progression included the River Ribble and its banks, docks, historic bridges, and associated waterways. All of these were integral to Preston’s historical landscape and heritage.
Preston Dock opened in 1892 and, at the time, was the largest single dock in the country. The basin was named after Queen Victoria’s first son, Albert Edward the Prince of Wales, due to the Prince laying the dock foundation stone in 1885.
Despite never being a major port, Preston Dock was the first to introduce roll on roll off traffic and ferry transport. This led to the port holding the record for handling the largest amount of container and ferry traffic by the 1960s.
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.
It was thanks to the River Ribble that Preston became a trading port from the mid-14th century. The growth of the trade led to the port’s development as an 18th-century quay and then to a large inland dock in the 19th century.
The River Ribble was also within easy reach of Preston’s town centre, providing a striking backdrop for Avenham and Miller Parks. It was for reasons like this that the Ribble’s importance grew for transport and leisure activities including the Penwortham Ferry, pleasure boating, and the Preston Regatta.
The birthplace of the UK’s motorway network
The Preston By-pass, which is now part of the M6, was built in 1958 and was the first British road to be built to motorway standards. It was a little over eight miles long and ran from Bamber Bridge to Broughton. It was built to ease traffic congestion caused by tourists travelling to the popular destinations of Blackpool and The Lake District.
Other motorways terminating close to the city are the M61 – Preston to Manchester via Chorley and Bolton, the M65 – Preston to Colne via Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley and the M55 – Preston to Blackpool via Kirkham.