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Nestled in the heart of Lancashire, Preston is built on a rich history. Famous for its Guild celebrations every 20 years, this proud city has provided evidence of Roman activity, largely in the form of a Roman road which led to a camp at Walton-le-Dale. Since the mid-13th century, textiles have been produced here. Flemish weavers settling in the area helped to develop this industry. The most rapid period of growth, however, coincided with the expansion of textile manufacturing, and Preston was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, becoming a densely populated engineering centre, with large industrial plants. Although, in more recent years, Preston has faced similar challenges to other post-industrial northern towns and cities, it remains a lively place to visit, with a wide variety of events held throughout the year. From exhibitions to street theatre and live music, there is always something new and unique to experience.
Blessed with a host of historic buildings and landmarks to explore, Preston is home to the tallest spire in England on a church that is not a cathedral thanks to the 94-metre spire of St Walburge’s Church. There are also many notable architectural examples dotted in and around the city centre including the Miller Arcade, Town Hall, Harris Museum (well-worth a look!), and the beautiful Georgian buildings on Winckley Square. The Museum of Lancashire can be found in Preston, while there are also plenty of parks and nature reserves in very close proximity.
Preston is a major centre of the British defence aerospace industry, with BAE Systems, the UK’s principal military design, development and manufacture supplier, having headquarters located in nearby Warton, as well as two other locations on either side of the city. The Westinghouse Electric Company nuclear processing plant lies to the west of the city, while Alstom Transport’s main UK spare parts distribution centre was also founded in Preston. The city still has the tax office for the company located in Winckley Square. The biggest building in the city houses haulage supplier and operator, James Hall and Co, while the financial sector has a large presence, with many consultancies, insurance and law firms (including iQor Recovery Services Ltd) based in the city centre. You will find call centres aplenty in Preston, together with a vast number of freight and haulage companies (given its good transport links), plus the retail sector is also strongly represented, with two major shopping centres in the city, Fishergate Shopping Centre and St George’s Shopping Centre.
Speaking of those strong transport links, Preston sits between the M6, M55, M65 and M61 motorways. It is also a major stop on the West Coast Main Line, with services to London in the south and Glasgow and Edinburgh in the north, as well as being the hub for connecting rail services in the North West. There are five main bus operators serving the city, while the nearest airports are Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport.
The city is home to the University of Central Lancashire, the sixth largest university in the country, with over 33,000 students. There are four further and higher education colleges – Preston College, Cardinal Newman College, TUC Education Unit and Royal Preston Hospital where medical students from the University of Manchester are based for their clinical training – along with a number of very good high schools.
As for house prices, most property sales in Preston involve semi-detached houses, selling for an average of £160,443. The overall average price is £163,656, which is similar to the previous year, making housing in this part of Lancashire more affordable than neighbouring cities.
Famous Prestonians include Sir Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning frame who was born in Preston, together with Tim Farron MP, cricketer Andrew Flintoff, footballer Phil Jones, and Wallace and Gromit creator, Nick Park.