PRESTON, a municipal, county, and parliamentary borough and port, of Lancashire, England, on the river Kibble, 209 m. N.W. by N. from London by the London & North-Western railway, served also by the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway. Pop. (1891), 107,573; (1901), 112,989; at the beginning of the i oth century it was about 1 7 ,000. The nucleus of its site consists of a ridge rising sharply from the north bank of the river, while the surrounding country, especially to the west about the estuary, is flat. Among the numerous parish churches that of St John, built in Decorated style in 1855, occupies a site which has carried a church from early times. Among several Roman Catholic churches, that of St Walpurgis (1854) is a handsome building of Early Decorated character. Of public buildings the most noteworthy is the large town hall, with lofty tower and spire, in Early English style, built in 1867 from designs by Sir Gilbert Scott.
The free public library and museum were established in 1879 by the trustees of E. R. Harris, a prominent citizen. A new building was opened in 1893. Here is placed Dr Shepherd's library founded in 1761, of nearly 9000 volumes, as well as a collection of pictures, etc., valued at 40,000, bequeathed by the late R. Newsham. The Harris Institute, endowed by the above-named trustees with 40,000, is established in a building of classical style erected in 1849, wherein are held science and art classes, and a chemical laboratory is maintained. For the grammar school, founded in 1550, a building in the Tudor style was erected in 1841 by private shareholders, but in 1860 they sold it to the corporation, who now have the management of the school. The blue-coat school, founded in 1701, was in 1817 amalgamated with the national schools. A Victoria Jubilee technicaj school was established under a grant from the Harris trustees in 1897. There is also a deaf and dumb school. Preston is well supplied with public recreation grounds, including Avenham Park, the Miller Park, with a statue of the 141)1 earl of Derby (d. 1869), the Moor Park, the Marsh, and the Deepdale grounds, with an observatory. Preston is one of the principal seats of the cotton manufacture in Lancashire. There are also iron and brass foundries, engineering works, cotton machinery works, and boiler works, and some shipbuilding is carried on. In 1826 Preston became a creek of Lancaster, in 1839 it was included in the new port of Fleetwood, and in 1843 it was created an independent port. The trade of the port was insignificant until the construction of spacious docks, in conjunction with the deepening of the river from the quays of Preston to its outfall in the Irish Sea, a distance of 16 m., was begun in 1884, and was carried out at a cost of over one million sterling. The main wet dock, opened in 1892, is 3240 ft. long and 600 ft. wide. The total quayage is over 8500 lineal feet. The channel of the river has been made straighter, and from docks to sea deepened, so that the dock is accessible for vessels of 17 ft. draught on ordinary spring tides. A canal connects Preston with Lancaster.
The parliamentary borough, which returns two members, falls between the Blackpool and Darwen divisions of the county. The corporation consists of a mayor, 12 aldermen and 36 councillors. Area of municipal borough, 3971 acres.
Preston, otherwise Prestune, was near the minor Roman station at Walton-le-Dale and the great Roman road running from Warrington passed through it. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as one of Earl Tostig's possessions which had fallen to Roger of Poictou, and on his defection it was forfeited to the Crown. 1 Henry II. about the year 1179 granted the burgesses a charter by which he confirmed to them the privileges he had granted to Newcastle-under-Lyme, the chief of which were a free borough and a gild merchant. This is the first of fourteen royal charters which have been granted to Preston, the chief of which are as follows: John in 1199 confirmed to Preston -all the rights granted by Henry II. 's charter and also " their fair of eight days" from the Assumption (Aug. 15) and a three days' fair from the eve of Saints Simon and Jude (Oct. 28). Henry III. in 1217 confirmed the summer fair, but for five days only, and granted a weekly market on Wednesday. Edward III. (1328), Richard II. (1379). Henry IV. (1401), Henry V. (1414), Henry VI. (1425) and Philip and Mary (1557) confirmed the previous charters. The weekly market, though granted for Wednesday, was held as early as 1292 on Saturday. Elizabeth in 1566 granted the town its great charter which ratified and extended all previous grants, including the gild merchant,, the weekly market on Saturday and the two annual fairs, in August for eight days and in October for seven days. Charles II. in 1662 and 1685 granted charters, by the latter of which an additional weekly market on Wednesday was conceded and a three days' fair beginning on the 16th of March. The most important industry used to be woollen weaving. Elizabeth's charter granted to the corporation all fees received from the sealing of cloth within the borough, and in 1571 the mayor reported that the cloths usually made near Preston were " narrow white kearses." Other early industries were glove-making and linen cloth. The first cotton-spinning mill was built in 1777 in Moor Lane, and in 1791 John Horrocks built the Yellow Factory. In 1835 there were forty factories, chiefly spinning, yielding 70,000 lb of cotton yarn weekly. A gild existed perhaps in Saxon times, but the grant of a gild merchant dates from Henry II. 's charter, about 1179. The first gild of which there was any record was celebrated in 1328, at which it was decided to hold a gild every twenty years. Up to 1542, however, they do not appear to have been very regularly celebrated, but 1 The Court leet was held twice a year up to 1835.
since that year they have been and still are held at intervals o twenty years. A special gild mayor is appointed on each occa sion. The first mention of a procession at the gild is in 1500 One of the most important items of business was the enrolling of freemen, and the gild rolls are records of the population. In 1397 the gild roll contained the names of over 200 in-burgesses and 100 foreign burgesses; in 1415 the number of in-burgesses was 188, which in 1459 had declined to 72. In 1582 there were over 500 in-burgesses and 340 out-burgesses. There is no evidence for, but rather against, the common statement that Preston was burnt or razed to the ground during the Scottish invasion of 1322. The town suffered severely from the Black Death in 1349-1350, when as many as 3000 persons are saic to have died, and again in the year November 1630 to November 1631, i loo died of pestilence. During the Civil War Preston sided with the king and became the headquarters of the Royalists in Lancashire. In February 1643 Sir John Seaton with a Parliamentary force marched from Manchester and successfully assaulted it. A strong Parliamentary garrison was established here and its fortifications repaired, but in March the earl ol Derby recaptured the tojvn. The Royalists did not garrison it, but after demolishing the greater part of the works left it unfortified. After the battle of Marston Moor Prince Rupert marched through Preston in September 1644 and carried the mayor and bailiffs prisoners to Skipton Castle, where they were confined for twelve months. On the 17th of August 1648 the Royalist forces under the duke of Hamilton and General Langdale were defeated at Preston by Cromwell with a loss of 1000 killed and 4000 taken prisoners. During the Rebellion of 1715 the rebel forces entered Preston on the gth of November, and after proclaiming the Chevalier de St George king at the cross in the market-place, remained here for some days, during which the government forces advanced. The town was assaulted, and on the 14th of November General Forster surrendered his army of about 1400 men to the king's forces. In 1745 Prince Charles Edward marched through on the way south and north, but the town took no part in the rebellion. The borough returned two members from 1295 to 1331, then ceased to exercise the privilege on account of poverty till 1529, but since that date (except in 1653) it_ has always sent two representatives to parliament. The curious institution of the mock mayor and corporation of Walton, which was at its foundation in 1701 a Jacobite association, ceased after 1766 to be of any political significance and lapsed in 1800. There was probably a church here in Saxon times and it is believed to be one of the three churches in Amounderness mentioned hi Domesday Book. In 1094 it is named in a charter of Roger de Poictou. The early dedication was to St Wilfrid, but probably about 1531, when it was rebuilt, it was re-dedicated to St John. At the time of the Reformation, many, especially among the neighbouring gentry, clung to the old faith, and there is still a large Roman Catholic population. There were two monastic foundations here: a hospital dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, which stood on the Maudlands, and a Franciscan convent of Grey Friars situated to the west of Friargate. In the 18th century Preston had a high reputation as a centre of fashionable society, and earned the epithet still familiarly associated with it, " proud." See H. Fishwick, History of the Parish of Preston (1900).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)