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Preston’s historic sites today, what to see and some new developments

Posted on - 10th September, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Flag Market, History, Parks, Preston City Centre, Winckley Square
The Belvedere in Avenham Park Pic: Geoff Whittaker
The Belvedere in Avenham Park Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Preston has a long history and there are many historic places and buildings to visit in all seasons. Preston is blessed with many lovely green spaces including parks and gardens.

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There are also many historic buildings to visit, although these can be expensive to maintain. As a result the old Post Office debacle continues and the Harris is not due to reopen until 2024.

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Photos By Geoff Whittaker.

Avenham and Miller Park

Situated next to the River Ribble is Avenham Park. This is a fine traditional Victorian park created by Edward Milner in the 1860s. It is one of best surviving Victorian parks in the North West. There is also an interesting Japanese rock garden.

Japanese rock garden in Avenham Park Pc: Geoff Whittaker
Japanese rock garden in Avenham Park Pc: Geoff Whittaker
Autumn walks along the Ribble Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Autumn walks along the Ribble Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Around Winckley Square

Resting in Winckley Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Resting in Winckley Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Winckley Square is a well-known green space close to the centre of Preston. It is surrounded by many fine Georgian houses and was once a high class residential district. There are also statues of famous Victorian personages such as the Lancashire born Sir Robert Peel.

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Sir Robert Peel was born in 1788 and was a well respected Conservative politician. He had Lancashire roots being born In Bury. His father was one of the wealthiest of the early textile manufacturers. Sir Robert Peel was Prime Minister twice and the first from an industrial background. He is best known for founding the modern police force and ending the Corn Laws, which artificially inflated food prices in the 19th century.

The Peel statue is listed on Topple the Racists, a crowdsourced map of UK statues and monuments that celebrate slavery and racism.

Sir Robert Peel’s statue at Winckley Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Sir Robert Peel’s statue at Winckley Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Most of the occupants of Winckley Square were prominent lawyers and business owners. The Square was founded in the early 19th century by William Cross, a local solicitor. The Square was originally split into individual gardens but was eventually converted into a public space.

Fine Georgian houses surround Winckley Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Fine Georgian houses surround Winckley Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Fishergate

Fishergate today, now used by buses Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Fishergate today, now used by buses Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Fishergate was once the main road through Preston but was pedestrianised after the ring road was built in the 1960s. Nowadays it is home to many shops as well as the railway station. It is also used by buses traveling to such places as Blackpool and Southport. It has also been proposed that trams run down Fishergate. However the only tram so far is the hot potato tram pictured below.

Market Square

Market Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Market Square Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Towards the east end of Fishergate is the Market Square. This is another area with many historic buildings, including the Harris, the Cenotaph, and old Post Office. The Harris is scheduled to reopen next year after refurbishment. Often old buildings are repurposed however this can lead to problems.

The old Post Office debacle

The former Post office, undergoing development Pic: Geoff Whittaker
The former Post office, undergoing development Pic: Geoff Whittaker

The former Post Office building was sold by Preston Council in 2016. The building began being converted into a hotel in 2018. However the project has suffered repeated delays blamed on factors including Brexit, asbestos and Covid-19. Notably the developer went into administration in August 2022. The hotel was to be named after Bill Shankly, one of Preston North End’s best known players.

In August 2023, the planning permission was amended to:

‘Change of use and extension of former Post Office to create a hotel with associated restaurant/bar, wedding and function space and spa’.

Hopefully the project may be completed in the near future.

Read more: Shankly Hotel bedroom numbers question mark

Bonus images

The hot potato van with the Harris in the background Pic: Geoff Whittaker
The hot potato tram with the Harris in the background Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Autumn colour in Avenham Park Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Autumn colour in Avenham Park Pic: Geoff Whittaker

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