Preston is a Lancashire city with a fascinating history from its earliest roots as one of England’s oldest boroughs. Mentioned in the Doomsday Book, the then town of Preston received its charter in 1179. The 17th century saw Preston as Lancashire’s wealthiest market town – Preston’s particular position as the last bridging point on the River Ribble made it the main gateway between North and South surrounded by prime agricultural areas. All these came together to make it one of Lancashire’s biggest and richest market towns.
It was the 19th century when Preston really exploded on the world industrial stage as a cotton and textile finishing centre. The city’s many Victorian Parks and Grade I & II listed buildings (over 750 of them) date from this industrial boom period, with the famous Winckley Square containing some of Preston’s most historic houses. The city’s outstanding selection of museums and galleries are where to head to find out more including main Museum of Lancashire on Stanley Street housed within the Grade II listed former court house and for a focus on Preston heritage and fine art head to the Grade I Listed Harris Museum & Art Gallery flanking market square in the heart of the city centre.
Preston Museums & Galleries – The Harris Museum & Art Gallery
The city of Preston contain five key museums, all essential visiting for understanding the rich heritage of the city and its regions. Begin at the central free entry Harris Museum and Art Gallery with ‘Story of Preston’ Gallery and outstanding permanent collections of fine art, 20th century fashion dresses produced by Preston’s own ready to wear label giant – Horrockses, a contemporary photography collection and a great in-house museum cafe and shop selling a wide range of history books and memorabilia on the area.
Museum of Lancashire
Situated just on the edge of Preston, the award-winning and free entry Museum of Lancashire takes visitors on a fascinating journey through the history of the county featuring exhibits on everything from comedy to textiles, wildlife to the war years. Recently refurbished, this museum is housed within a Grade II listed old court house and has free parking adjacent, an on-site gift shop and cafe.
Ribble Steam Railway
A fun family day out, The Ribble Steam Railway in Preston includes a 1 1/2 mile steam railway ride and on-site museum with on-site gift shop, cafe and ample adjacent parking. Themed events run throughout the year from Santa Specials to Autumn steam galas and the museum features an enchanting range of heritage steam engines and carriages, railway memorabilia and more.
One of Lancashire’s most treasured historic manor houses, Samlesbury Hall is a favourite with history lovers and families alike. A spectacular half timbered medieval house dating from 1325, the Hall is open daily to the public and is a popular venue for events, weddings and year round activities. A restaurant, gift shop, five beautiful acres of grounds and gardens and an ice cream parlour are all on-site. Fun family attractions include Samlesbury’s many friendly animals including from goats to rabbits, and the restaurant is acclaimed for its outstanding locally sourced food.