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The city of Preston is situated on the north bank of the River Ribble. There is substantial evidence of ancient Romans occupying the area, including a Roman road. The village was established by the Angles, who named it Prestune, which means a “priest’s estate” or “priest’s settlement.”

In 1179, the market town with a population of approximately 1,500, was granted a GuildMerchant charter. This marketplace is in the same location as it was originally.

Textiles have been created since the middle of the 13th century, starting with locally produced wool which was woven in people’s houses. During the 14th century, Flemish weavers who had found refuge in England helped to build up the industry.

Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning frame, as well as a rotary carding engine which converted raw cotton to cotton lap so it could be spun, was born here. His inventions combined machinery and low-skilled labour with cotton to mass-produced yarn. He was the first person to organize factories which housed both carding and spinning machinery. Arkwright was a leading inventor during the first part of the Industrial Revolution.

During the English Civil War, numerous battles were fought in and around the city. In 1643, the Parliamentary troops. Commanded by Oliver Cromwell, captured Preston.

In 1715, the Jacobite army entered Preston. English troops quickly surrounded the town, and the Scots surrendered. Twelve people were executed for treason.

The first cotton mill opened in Preston in 1771. The city evolved into an industrial city in 1792 when the canal was built between Lancaster and Preston.

In 1816, the city was illuminated by gas, and in 1838, the railway finally arrived. Horse-drawn trams debuted in 1879, followed by the first telephone exchange opening in 1881. The Albert Edward Dock opened in 1892. In the early 1920s, the cotton industry in Preston collapsed.

A large rayon factory opened in 1939, and the town joined the war effort. Preston was targeted only a few times by the Luftwaffe during the blitzes during World War II. There were no fatalities in the town.

However, in August of 1944, in the Freckleton district, a civilian aircraft accident, called the Freckleton Air Disaster took place. The plane tried to land during a storm and crashed into Holy Trinity School. Thirty-eight infants died, along with two teachers and three of the plane’s crew. Additionally, several residents and American and English military personnel died in a snack bar across the street from the school.

In the 1950s, immigrants from Pakistan, India, and the West Indies began to settle in Preston. Most of those immigrants were employed by the manufacturing establishments in town. The Courtaulds factory, which was established in 1794 was the world’s top manufacturer production company for man-made fibre by the early 20th century. The factory employed more than 3,000 making artificial fibres, fabric, and clothing. Due to the popularity of textiles and clothing manufactured in Southeast Asia and China which cost much less for consumers, the factory closed in 1979. At the same time, the docks on the River Ribble began to decline around the same time, and the docks closed in 1981. Unemployment was rampant, and the outlook was bleak.

In 2001, the National Football Museum opened in Preston, and shortly thereafter, the town morphed into a regional shopping center for the northwest region of England. It became a city in 2002, and things were looking up for the city and its reliance on shoppers coming to their huge mall, and construction of an even larger shopping mall began. In late 2011, however, the banking crash, which was described as the worst since the 1930s, put a damper on the plans, and soon the anchor store for the project, John Lewis, pulled out.

Encouraged by a visionary council cabinet member named Matthew Brown, Preston turned to its local economy, keeping money within the community. Small businesses catering more to locals than outsiders, began popping up, and worker-owned co-ops have become popular. The council backed a credit union to help small businesses and public services.

In 2012, Preston declared that it had become the first living wage employer in northern England.



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