An outline of significant dates and events in the history of the city of Preston.
Why not complete the Preston Heritage Trail. Learn some of the stories of Preston's past in this 2.5 hour route through the city. Trail pack are availalble from Preston Visitor Information Centre priced £5. Great for the whole family.
Preston is a city with a fascinating history, from its earliest roots as one of England's oldest boroughs (it’s mentioned in the Doomsday Book and received its charter in 1179) to the 17th century, which saw Preston rise to become one of Lancashire's most important market towns.
Preston is the lowest bridging point on the River Ribble, making it the strategic gateway linking north and south Lancashire and further afield to Scotland. It is also surrounded by prime agricultural land, which led to it’s development as one of the county’s richest market towns. However, it was the 18th century, and rapid expansion in the 19th century, that saw Preston emerge onto the world industrial stage as a cotton and textile finishing centre. The city's many Victorian parks and most of its Grade I & II listed buildings (over 750 of them) date from this industrial boom period. There is still a great deal of history on the ground that can be seen by a walk around the city, in particular, Winckley Square contains a number of historic houses and Preston's significance is also reflected in local museums and galleries, some of which were built with funds from local philanthropists and beneficiaries.
Preston North End is one of England's oldest and most historic football clubs as it was founded in 1881, and is still based at its original Deepdale ground. The club was the first winner of the Football League and the first side to do the League and FA Cup double in 1889.
The 20th century saw Preston develop as a major engineering base, as a direct result of aircraft production for the war effort in the 1940’s. Since then, Preston's excellent location has helped it to adapt and diversify its employment structure from this traditional textiles and engineering base – although British Aerospace Defence continues to employ in excess of 10,000 staff in the area. New employment has been created in other sectors, such as business services, computing and finance, and Preston is also home to the campus of the University of Central Lancashire, which is one of the largest in the UK with over 30,000 students.
Entering the 21st century, the city of Preston acts as the retail and commercial centre for Lancashire, with a diverse and skilled local workforce. City status in 2002 was a significant achievement that recognised Preston's long history, diverse community, regional importance and the Council's ambitious future plans.