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Wandering And Wondering – A Preston Magical History Mystery Tour

Posted on - 2nd May, 2017 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, History, Nostalgia, Preston History, Reviews

Local historian Keith Johnson, has published a wonderful little Preston based pocket book in which readers are invited on a tour to discover for themselves the changing face of Preston.

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Keith writes…

“Perhaps, like me, you often wander and wonder as you walk around Preston. Perhaps you ponder with thoughts about the streets, the buildings, the people that passed this way before who were all part of the rich tapestry of life. Quite naturally, like many Prestonians, I have visited many of our city’s historical locations and trod the well worn paths that led to them.

Therefore, I was delighted when Amberley Publishing asked me to write the Preston version of their latest series, a historical tour of city or town. It is quite a journey on a long and winding road with twists and turns along the way. Always remember that this old town endured feast and famine, plague and pestilence, triumph and tragedy, conflicts and confrontation to emerge as ‘Proud Preston’ a title richly deserved. By reflecting on the images within the book it gives you, the reader, a chance to stand and stare and be nostalgic whilst you are there.

County Hall a place to start

This trail begins on Fishergate Hill the seat of County Hall since 1882, then onwards to Fishergate to glimpse the history there. On next to Winckley Square surrounded by fine buildings, some of which date back to the dawn of the 19th century. After wandering around the Square it is but a short walk to the Avenham & Miller Parks by the side of the River Ribble where historical delights await. Leaving the parks by tree lined paths you reach Avenham Walk, created as a gravel path in 1696. Soon Avenham Lane beckons and then a slight detour takes you to Stoneygate where Arkwright House has stood since 1728 and from where you can glimpse a rear view of the Minster church.

Returning to Avenham Lane and on to Queen Street you will reach London Road a vital artery of the city. Ahead to your left is Stanley Street and a glimpse at New Hall Lane, where cotton mills once abounded, before you step onwards towards Church Street a highway steeped in history. As Church Street turns into Fishergate, Cheapside beckons along with the ancient Market Square where you may choose to linger a while and admire the buildings that surround it. Harris Street, by the side of the Harris Museum, takes you up to the modern day Guild Hall and the Town Hall where civic matters are dealt with on Lancaster Road.

Across from the Town Hall is the narrow, winding Crooked Lane, where soup kitchens gave relief to the poor in cotton famine days, and a few more footsteps will bring you to the Preston Bus Station, a structure both praised and criticised, from the top of which you can view Preston in its entirety. Church steeples and towers, high rise apartments and office blocks, modern and historical structures and highways all coming into view.

Avenham Lane loaded with memories

Returning to Lancaster Road the Covered Market of 1872 origins then beckons, as do Market St and Orchard St from where you can enter Friargate. A few steps more and you are on Lune Street where the old Corn Exchange and St. George’s Chapel await. Next is the Ringway and a stroll towards Friargate Brow that eventually leads to the Adelphi roundabout and the UCLAN campus. From here you can look in awe at the spire of St. Walburge’s church and admire the former church of St. Peter’s.

Corporation St will then take you to where the canal once terminated at the rear of the old Corn Exchange and a return to Fishergate and journey’s end at Preston Railway Station from where visitors have flocked since 1880. Hopefully, by then you will have embraced the history and the heritage of the city and its folk and like myself learnt a little bit more about proud Preston.

This history trail is intended to give you a glimpse of Preston’s past and to recall the endeavours of its people. A chance to wander and wonder where generations past have lived and toiled. The streets and alleyways, buildings and structures, parks and pastimes all left a legacy, although it is the people who made Preston proud.

In truth, whenever I walk this walk it seems like a magical mystery history tour and I hope it is for you too. The ‘Preston History Trail’ is a pocket sized publication that takes you along the highways and byways and hopefully down memory lane. This is a tour of Preston you can make by donning your walking shoes, or if you prefer, from the comfort of your old armchair as you flick through the pages”.

Keith Johnson

Have you read Keith Johnson’s book, Preston History Tour yet? Let us know in the comments below.

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