Preston with the villages of Walton-le-Dale, Bamber Bridge, Leyland and Neighbourhoods.
Preston is a borough, market-town and parish, in the hundred of Amounderness, and in the archdeaconry of Richmond; 217 miles from London, 31 N.N.E. of Liverpool , the like distance N.W. of Manchester, 22 S.S.E. of Lancaster, 18 N.N.E. of Ormskirk, 11 S.S.E. of Garstang, and 9 N. of Chorley. It is situated on the an eminence, to the north of the river Ribble; and is said to have risen from the ruins of an ancient city, called Ribchester (which is now an inconsiderable village in the neighbourhood), and to take its name, Priest-town, from its having then been the residence of considerable numbers of churchmen; and the present names of the streets afford sanction to this etymology, as, the Churchgate, the Friargate,&c.
This borough has the honour to enjoy no fewer than 13 Royal original charters, the first of which was granted by Henry 11., and the two last in the reign of Charles II. Preston is a borough by prescription, as well as by charter, and returns two members to parliament; the present representatives are the Hon. Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley, and John Wood, Esq.; the right of voting is in all the male inhabitants, of the age of 21 years and upwards, who have resided during the last six months in the town, and have not, for the 12 months immediately preceding the election, been chargeable to any parish as paupers; the number of voters at the last election for the borough was 4,000; the mayor and two bailiffs are the returning officers. The town is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 17 common councilmen, with the recorder and town-clerk. A court of record for the trial of causes is held every Friday; and a sessions quarterly, for the punishment of felonies, &c. committed within the borough, before the mayor and aldermen, and the recorder or town-clerk.
Every 20th year a guild merchant, or kind of jubilee, is held here, which begins in the last week of August, and formerly continued a month, but its duration in 1822 was but a fortnight, when Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq., was the mayor, who has been elected five times to that honourable civic office.
The guild-hall, a handsome building, built of brick, stands in the centre of the town, near the Market-place, and fronts Fishergate, containing a news-room and council-chamber, together with the court-room for trying causes cognizable in the town, and used as the husting for the purpose of receiving votes for electing members of parliament; the new cupola is built of freestone, and is a superior piece of architecture, surmounting a pedestal, which supports its massy head, consisting of four Ionic pilasters at each angle; upon the base, between the pilasters, are laticed windows, formed with mouldings, after the Norman style, with round heads; and above this, next the cornice, a clock appears, with four dials facing the four cardinal points; the cap of the cupola is mounted by a vane of gilt-work, representing the figure of a lamb couchant.
The principal law-officers of the county palatine, viz. the vice-chancellor, the registrar of the chancellor, the cursitor, the clerk of the Crown and the clerk of the peace, the prothonotary and the sheriff, have their respective offices in this town, except during the assizes, when they attend at Lancaster. The court of chancery for the county palatine, and the quarter sessions for the hundreds of Amounderness, Leyland and Blackburn, are held here by adjournment from Lancaster, where they commence for the county. The general sessions, meeting of the deputy-lieutenants, and many other county meetings, take place here; the county court, for trial of causes under 40s., and above that sum to an indefinite amount, is held here every fourth Tuesday, before the under-sheriff.
The public structures devoted to the purposes of religious worship are, the ancient church of St. Johns (formerly St.Wilfrids), which is a vicarage, in the patronage of Sir Henry Philip Hoghton, and incumbency of the Rev. Roger Carus Wilson; St. Georges chapel, the present minister of which is the Rev. R. Harris; Trinity church, in the incumbency of the Rev. Thomas Raven; St. Peters, the Rev. R. Henry; and St. Pauls, the Rev. B. Russell. The dissenters from the established church have seven places of worship, viz. for the methodists, independents, baptists and unitarians, a chapel each; the Roman catholics have also two chapels, and the society of friends a meeting-house.
The charitable institutions for the promotion of education are, the free grammar-school, an ancient foundation, under the patronage of the corporation; the blue-coat school, national school, catholic school, methodist school, and various Sunday-schools; the latter excellent establishments educating upwards of 3,000 children.
There are several societies in Preston for promoting religion, and affording relief to the poor both in age and sickness; amongst these may be included Bible, tract, and missionary societies; dispensaries, alms-houses, a benevolent society; several provident institutions or benefit societies, &c.
Here is a valuable library, bequeathed by Dr. Shepherd; one belonging to the mechanics and apprentices, and two good news-rooms. Two newspapers are published here on Saturday, viz. the Chronicle and Pilot, - and a periodical, called the Protestant Guardian, monthly. The places of public amusement are, the theatre, assembly-rooms, and cockpit; there are also billiard-rooms and public baths, and races are held annually on the moor.
Half a century ago Preston could not be noted as a manufacturing town; and for ages previous it was more remarkable for the residence of independent persons, and its claims to gentility, than to the production of articles deemed so essentially necessary to adorn the rich and clothe all ranks. The rapid strides of science and art, rendered subservient to machinery and manufactures in general, have of late years overtaken and included Preston amongst the manufacturing towns of Lancashire: the cotton-trade is now carried on to a very considerable extent; and although it labours under the disadvantage of being at a material distance from the coal-mines, yet the central situation of the town, and the united advantages of river and canal navigation, joining with the skill, capital and enterprize of the principal manufactuers, have placed Preston in a more conspicuous and elevated point of view, than at the period when trade was only carried on within it for local convenience. With the aid of spring tides, which flow higher than the bridge at Wolton, vessels of 150 tons burden can navigate the Ribble as far as the quay at Preston-marsh; but this river is capable of much improvement. In the Ribble is a very ancient fishery, belonging to the borough of Preston, within the boundary of its jurisdiction; and it is famous for salmon, smelts, plaice and eels.
Preston is approached from the south by Walton-bridge, and from the west by Penwortham-bridge, both over the Ribble. The houses in the town are chiefly well built, and (together with the neighbouring townships,) is the residence of many opulent families. A venham-walk, situated on the summit of a hill rising from the banks of the Ribble, is one of the places of public resort for pleasure and exercise, and is a delightful promenade, the property of the corporation, and kept in order at their cost: the prospect from hence is as extensive as diversified, and embraces all the various beauties which a perfect landscape may be said to possess.
The principal market-place is a spacious well paved square, in the centre of which is an obelisk, surmounted by a large glass vase, lighted at night with gas, which illuminates the whole area. The chief market is held on Saturday; but there are also markets on Wednesday and Friday, for fish, butter and vegetables. There are four annual fairs here, viz. the great horse-fair, in the week ending on the first Sunday after Epiphany, which is called great Saturday; the Spring fair, of three days, commencing 27th March; the Summer fair, of eight days, commencing 26th August; and the Winter fair, of five days, commencing 7th November.
In 1801, the whole parish of Preston contained 14,300 inhabitants; in 1811, 19,528; and, by the census of 1821, 27,300 persons: - in 1801 the borough of Preston contained 11,887 inhabitants; in 1811, 17,065; and in 1821, 24,570, - having more than doubled its population in 20 years.
Walton-le-Dale is a chapelry, and a populous interesting village, in the hundred and parish of Blackburn, situated at its western extremity, the village being about two miles S.E. of Preston, at the confluence of the Ribble and Derwent rivers. It is recorded of this place, that in the year 1701 certain persons of note, amongst whom were the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Derwentwater, Sir Thomas Sherburne, Sir Wm. Pennington, and others of the gentry of the Jacobite party, incorporated themselves, by the designation of The Mayor and Corporation fot the ancient Borough of Walton, The place of rendezvous was the Unicorn. a mean public-house in the village, where, although their transactions partook of the character of the ludicrous, yet a purpose political was concealed; they kept a register, and had a mace, sword of state, and large staves, ornamented with silver. The rebellion of 1715 thinned the number of the corporate members; but the mockery existed till the 1800, when it altogether ceased, and the register, with the staves, came into the possession of Sir Henry Philip Hoghton, Bart. Walton is memorable from the great battle, fought on the 17th of August, 1648, between Oliver Cromwell and Duke Hamilton; and also from another, in 1715, fought by Parson orGeneral Wood, of Chowbent, who, at the head of his congregation, defended the pass of the Ribble against the Scots rebels. The church of Walton is delightfully seated upon an eminence; the chancel contains a number of monuments, principally to the Hoghton family. The increase of population, within the last 20 years, has amounted to more than 2,000 persons, and is attributed to the number of manufacturing concerns continually springing up in this chapelry, which contained according to the census of 1821, 5,740 inhabitants.
Bamber Bridge, three miles S.S.E. of Preston, is a village, in township of Walton-le Dale, and the returns of its population are made up therewith.
Leyland, a township, parish and village, giving name to the hundred and deanery in which it lies, is distant four miles and a half NW of Chorley, and five and a half S. of Preston. The Church which is dedicated to St. Andrew, is built without a single pillar, like to Westminster-hall; and consists of one arch, containing an area of 65 by 33 feet. The parish contains two chapelries and seven townships, and, in 1821, 12,959 inhabitants - 3,173 of that number being in the village of Leyland.
Transcribed and provided by Cassie Thornley cassethor[at]ozemail.com[dot]au