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Preston then and now, aerial images from the 1950s and 60s show massive changes

Posted on - 11th December, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Avenham, History, Preston Bus Station, Preston City Centre, Preston Docks, Preston News, Preston Railway Station
Preston Station in 1969 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Preston Station in 1969 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Over the years many aerial images have been taken of Preston. Here we take at look at the changes wrought by time by comparing modern aerial images with ones from the past.

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Perhaps the biggest changes have been in the railways. Even in 1969 there was still a lot of railway in Preston. Towards the top of the image most of the goods sidings and the old East Lancashire lines are now car parks. Under the bridge that carries the road to the Park Hotel, rails once converged. Now it is just tarmac. Happily, in the modern image, the unlovely tower block is notable by its absence.

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Preston Station today Pic: Google Earth
Preston Station today Pic: Google Earth

Massive changes at Preston Docks

Preston Docks in 1952 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Preston Docks in 1952 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Massive changes have occurred at the Docks in the last 70 years. In 1952 Preston was still a working port and cargo ships can be seen moored. The power station is working flat out belching smoke over the town, while a goods train can be seen on part of the once extensive rail network.

In the modern image there is much more housing surrounding the basin, along with retail and leisure facilities. Also notable in the modern image is the road that crosses the neck of the dock entrance. This road did not exist in 1952 and now carries the Ribble Steam railway, via a swing bridge, as well as the road.

Preston Docks today Pic: Google Earth
Preston Docks today Pic: Google Earth

The English Electric site in Strand Road

The ex Dick, Kerr works in 1960 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The ex Dick, Kerr works in 1960 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The English Electric site in Strand Road has also changed massively. The main building itself survives while the world around it has become unrecognisable. Lots of terraced housing has gone and even the old roads have been erased. In the middle of the image, what was once railway is now barren concrete. Also, all the factory buildings on the opposite side of Strand Road have been demolished.

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Strand Road today Pic: Google Earth
Strand Road today Pic: Google Earth

Preston in 1966, blitzed by new development

Preston from the north in 1966 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Preston from the north in 1966 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Reminiscent of London in 1940, Perhaps the most amazing image was taken in 1966, and shows Preston undergoing major reconstruction. A whole swathe of the centre has been levelled. 

To get oriented, Fishergate goes from right to left across the image and behind the new Town Hall tower block. In the centre of the 1966 image, the new Bus Station and Guild Hall are about to be built on part of the blitzed area. The flats at Avenham were new at the time and are still with us. Hardly anything else remains from the 1966 image, apart from the church and two rows of houses near the bottom of the images.

Preston from the north today Pic: Google Earth
Preston from the north today Pic: Google Earth

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