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1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"PRESTON, a parish, market and manufacturing town, and municipal and parliamentary borough in the hundred of Amounderness, county Lancaster, 21 miles S. by E. of Lancaster, and 218 from London by road, or 2.10 by the London and North-Western railway. There is a joint station for the East Lancashire, North Union, and Preston and Wyre lines, which, with the Lancashire canal, afford ready communication with all the great centres of manufacturing industry in the N. of England. The parish, which is of large extent, comprises, besides the borough of Preston, the chapelries of Ashton-on-Ribble, Broughton, and Grimsargh, and the townships or hamlets of Barton, Claughton, or Gloton, Fishwick, Haighton, Lea, and Ribbleton. The manor was held by Earl Tosti, brother of Harold II., before the Norman conquest, but was subsequently forfeited, and came in the reign of Richard I. to Theobald, brother of Archbishop Hubert. The town, which was anciently called Prestum, or Prieststown, from the number and extent of its ecclesiastical establishments, stands on an eminence near the head of the estuary of the river Ribble, about 10 miles from the sea at Lytham. It is of great antiquity, and is supposed to have arisen from the ruins of the Roman station Coccium, or Rigodunum, 11 miles higher up the river, now occupied by the village of Ribchester, near Stonyhurst. It was made a borough by Henry II., who granted the merchant guild, which is still commemorated by a jubilee held by the corporation every twenty years. It was assaulted and partly destroyed by fire by the Scots under Robert Bruce in 1323. In the civil war of Charles I. it declared for the king, and was besieged and taken by the parliamentary forces under General Fairfax. In 1648 the Scottish army, under the Duke of Hamilton, advanced to Ribbleton Moor, in the neighbourhood of the town, but were there met by the parliamentary forces under Cromwell and Lambton, and sustained a severe defeat. In 1715 the town was occupied by Foster, Derwentwater, and other adherents of the Pretender, who erected barricades for its defence, but after a brave resistance were routed by General Willes. In 1745 it was occupied by the retreating forces of the Pretender, Charles Stuart, but was evacuated on the approach of the royal forces under the Duke of Cumberland. The town is situated in a fertile country abounding in rich scenery, including Avenham Walk and Moor Park. The first charter was granted to the town by Henry II., and no less than eleven different royal charters were subsequently granted before the end of the reign of Charles II. Preston returns two members to parliament, and is a polling-place for the northern division of the county. Since the passing of the Act of 1835 it has been divided into six wards, and comprises an area of 2,736 acres. It is governed by a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors, with the style of "mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses of the borough of Preston." The corporation revenue is about £12,000, including the fishery of the Ribble, which is well stocked with salmon, smelt, and eels. The population in 1851 was 69,542, with 11,348 inhabited houses, which in 1861 had increased to 82,985, with 15,050 inhabited houses. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the manufacture of cotton goods, Preston being one of the largest centres of that trade. Richard Arkwright, who was a native of this town, first introduced spinning by rollers towards the close of the last century, since which time the manufacture of cotton has rapidly increased, until Preston has become second to no town in England in manufacturing importance. There are also several linen factories, flax mills, iron and brass foundries, and machine works. Malting and brewing, rope making, and tanning are carried onto some extent. Although the port of Preston has had restored to it the privileges of a free port, its foreign commerce is small, owing to the difficulty of ascending the river; but a considerable coasting trade is carried on, especially with Ireland, and at spring tides vessels of large tonnage can ascend the Ribble to within a quarter of a mile of the lower bridge. The navigation has been very much improved of late years by the Ribble Navigation Company, and large bonded warehouses have been lately erected near the New Quay, at the Marsh, for the accommodation of shipping and merchants trading to the port. There is also a yard for shipbuilding near the Old Quay-one where iron vessels are occasionally built. Coal is conveyed in barges or lighters by means of the navigation of the Douglas river, which joins the Ribble 8 miles below the town. The Ribble is crossed by two budges -one a three arched bridge at Walton, on the London road, erected in 1782; and the other a five-arched bridge at Penwortham, of more ancient date, on the Liverpool road, about 1½ mile lower down the stream. The North Union railway has also a viaduct of five arches 70 feet above high water. There are numerous public buildings. The townhall, rebuilt in 1780, stands near the centre of the town, on the site of the Old Tolbooth, and contains some portraits, including a full-length portrait of George II. The sessions court and house of correction was built at the end of the last century, but has since been considerably enlarged. It stands at the end of Church-street, in the eastern suburb. The building is on the penitentiary plan, capable of holding nearly 1,000 prisoners, and occupies an acre of land, with six acres of land adjoining. The court-house comprises a spacious hall 45 feet square, in which the quarter-sessions for the northern division of the county and the county court are held. The market-house and corn-exchange was erected by the corporation in 1824, at a cost of nearly £12,000. It consists of a large brick building of three stories, the lower area being used for the corn-market, which is one of the largest in the county, and for butchers' shambles, while the body contains a hall for cloth merchants and a large hall for public meetings. The police station, situated in the Lancaster road, is an Italian pile of building, consisting of the court-room, where the magistrates hold petty sessions, and of police offices and barracks. The Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was completed in 1850 at a cost of nearly 6,000, and contains a library founded and endowed by the celebrated Dr. Shepherd, physician and alderman of the time of George III. The literary and philosophical institution is in the Tudor style of architecture; it has several spacious saloons for billiards, chess, library containing several unique works, and a museum which is very complete of its kind. Besides these are the barracks, a range of buildings at Fulwood, about a mile from the town, the borough prison, a custom house, theatre, public baths and washhouses, which cost upwards of £10,000, the workhouse, the extensive gasworks in Glover-street, temperance hall in the North-road, and the House of Recovery in Deepdale-road, erected in 1829. There are also six banks, a savings-bank, and several insurance offices and benefit societies. The cemetery, which is situated in the adjoining township of Ribbleton, comprises 50 acres, with three chapels for the Established Church, Dissenters, and Roman Catholics. There are two Roman Catholic convents-that of the "Holy Child Jesus," containing about 200 sisters, with schools attached, where nearly 500 children attend daily, and "The Holy Guild," which was established in 1840, and consists of upwards of 120 members. Preston Poorlaw Union contains 28 townships The municipal and parliamentary boundaries are co-extensive, the town occupying an area of nearly 1½ mile square. It includes the ancient borough of Preston and township of Fishwick, and is considered healthy from its high situation. In the four principal streets, all of which are well paved and lighted with gas, are many large houses and shops, but the smaller streets are chiefly inhabited by mechanics; there are also several terraces and squares. The original waterworks are more than a century old, but the present ones were finished about thirty years ago, and furnish an abundant supply. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Manchester, value £665, in the patronage of Hulme's Trustees. The parish church, dedicated to St. John, has been recently rebuilt. It was originally dedicated to St. Wilfred. It is a Gothic structure with a tower surmounted by a spire and containing eight bells. Besides the parish church there are twelve other churches, the livings of which vary from £308 to £150 per annum. Christ Church is in the Norman style of architecture, with two octagonal towers, erected in 1836, and was much enlarged in 1852. St. George's was built about 1725. St. Mary's was erected in 1837; as was also St. James's, originally built by the Dissenters, but subsequently purchased by the late vicar for the Established Church. All Saints is an Ionic structure, completed in 1847 at a cost of about £4,000. St. Peter's, in St. Peter's-square, was erected in 1824, by a grant from the Parliamentary Commissioners; it is Gothic, and cost £6,500. St. Paul's, capable of holding 1,200 people, was completed in 1826, at a cost of £7,000, defrayed by a grant from the Parliamentary Commissioners. St. Thomas's is Gothic, and cost £4,500. Trinity Church, situated at the top of Great Shaw-street, is Gothic with a square tower, and was built in 1815, at a cost of £10,000; it contains an E. window of stained-glass. Besides these churches there are several others scarcely of less note, and numerous Dissenting places of worship, several of which are of considerable pretension-the Baptists have three, the Independents two, the Wesleyans two, and the Primitive Methodists, Unitarians, Swedenborgians, Latter-Day Saints, and Society of Friends each one. The Roman Catholics have six churches:- St. Austin's, in Austin-place, with an entablature and four Ionic columns, has accommodation for 1,000 people, and contains several paintings. St. Ignatius' Church, in Meadow-street, is a spacious cruciform structure in the Perpendicular Gothic style of architecture, and was completed in 1836, at a cost of about £8,000; it has a stained-glass window, and the tower with the spire and cross is 120 feet high. St. Walburga's is upwards of 160 feet long by 55 wide, and when completed will have a tower and spire 300 feet high; it has several stained windows, and cost upwards of £13,000. The other Roman Catholic churches are St. Wilfrid's and St. Mary's-the former, situated in Chapel street, is capable of accommodating 3,000 persons, and was redecorated and enlarged in 1840; the latter is a mall building in Friargate, on the site of the old church. The free grammar school, founded and endowed in 1663, is a Gothic building of stone situated in Cross-street. It is under the direction of the mayor and corporation, and has an income from endowment of £150. Sidell's blue-coat school is a small ancient building in Mainsprit Weind, with an income from endowment of £90. There are National schools in the several ecclesiastical - districts, also six infant schools, besides denominational and private schools. There are nine almshouses, including Worthington's and the corporation, besides other charitable institutions. The parochial charities produce about £800 per annum. Roman coins and other antiquities have been found in and about the neighbourhood. A hospital of St. Mary Magdalene formerly existed here, but of this and of the monastery of the Greyfriars, founded by Edmund Earl of Lancaster in the beginning of the 13th century, no remains exist. The celebrated Lady Hamilton was born here in 1764, being the child of poor parents named Lyon. A. Kinloch, who built the first power-loom at Glasgow in 1799, died here in 1849. Three weekly newspapers are published in the town-the Preston Chronicle, Preston Guardian, and Preston Pilot-all on Saturday; but the two first have supplements published, the former on Tuesday and the latter on Wednesday. Preston is the headquarters of the 3rd Lancashire militia, which have spacious barracks and stores, erected here in 1856. Races are held annually in the Holme, on the bank of the Ribble. A horse-fair, called Great Saturday, is held in the first week after Epiphany. Other fairs on the 27th March, 26th August, and 7th November, lasting from three days to a week each. Market days are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; the last, which is the largest, is chiefly for corn."