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Prestonian and Proud Part 2

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Case Studies
Things you didn’t know about Preston…

The location of Preston being almost exactly the midway point between Glasgow and London, led to a lot of battles being fought here, most notably during the English Civil War in the Battle of Preston in 1648. This was a turning point in the second civil war and is commonly accepted as the point at which the Royalist forces lost the war with around 11 000 of its troops being captured or killed.

The 19th century saw a transformation in Preston; what was once a small rural town grew into a much larger industrial one. The invention of the spinning water wheel in Preston by Richard Arkwright paved the way for cotton mills to many northern English towns.

The town's forward-looking spirit during this time is illustrated by it being the first English town outside London to be lit by gas.

The more cruel side of industrial revolution was seen when the Preston Strike of 1842 on Saturday 13 August took place, when a group of cotton workers demonstrated against the poor conditions in the town's mills. The Riot Act was read and armed troops held the demonstrators in front of the Corn Exchange on Lune Street. (Now known as 1842)Shots were fired and four of the demonstrators were killed. A memorial statue now stands on the spot.

Charles Dickens visited Preston in January 1854 during a strike by cotton workers that had by that stage lasted for 23 weeks. This was part of his research for the novel Hard Times in which the town of "Coketown" is based on the city of Preston. The Temperance movement in the United Kingdom originated as a mass movement in the 19th century beginning its journey in Preston. The term teetotal is derived from a speech by Richard Turner in Preston in 1833. Livesey opened the first temperance hotel in 1833 and the next year founded the first temperance magazine, The Preston Temperance Advocate. British Association for the Promotion of Temperance was established by 1835.

Preston North End Football Club were the first winners of the National League in 1988/89 during a season where they won the double (League Champions and FA Cup winners) and were undefeated for the entire season become known locally as the “Invincibles”.

By 1901, nearly 120,000 people were living in Preston, now a thriving industrial town. However, the centuries-old cotton industry collapsed after the end of World War I in 1918, resulting in a large rise in unemployment across Preston. Preston also has links to women’s rights movements during the early 1900’s, the most famous activist was Edith Rigby who lived on Winckley Square where Service Care Solutions is based. Edith Rigby created a school in Preston aimed at educating girls and young women and was a contemporary of Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst (daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst). She was incarcerated 7 times and committed several acts of arson, during her incarceration she participated in hunger strikes in protest. Edith Rigby was rumored to be the first female to ride a bicycle in Preston.

New industries arrived in Preston during the second world war. Electrical goods manufacturing and engineering arrived in the town, and the building sector enjoyed a boom with nearly 3,000 council houses being built and some 1,500 houses were built for private sale. To this day, a huge number of locals are employed within the defense sector at BAE Systems.

Despite its heavy industry, Preston suffered only a handful of air raids in World War II and there were no fatalities in the town, although an air crash in the Freckleton district claimed the lives of 61 people in 1944.
The face of the town centre began to change in the 1960s, with old developments being demolished and replaced by modern developments such as the St George's Shopping Centre, which opened in 1966, and the Fishergate Shopping Centre which was built nearly 20 years later.

The town was by-passed by Britain's very first motorway which opened in 1958 and within a decade formed part of the M6 – giving Preston a direct motorway link with Manchester and Birmingham. The late 1960s saw the completion of Ringway, a bypass around the town centre, as well as a new bus station which is the largest in Europe.
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