A visit to Preston on the way home from Barrow. The Harris Museum was closed last time I called as I had called on a Sunday, although the library was open which I thought strange. Nevertheless on a Tuesday everything was open. I started at the top with the art galleries which contained a good mix of art from most centuries. The kindly gallery attendant gave me some leaflets including a historical walk around Preston (of which more later) then began to talk about anything other than painting. Perhaps people usually come in for a warm from the very chilly winds. There was a Stanley Spencer in the gallery and some lovely nineteenth century genre paintings. Portraiture was less interesting although Pauline in a yellow dress caught my eye - the 1944 Mona Lisa.
Leaving the Museum I decided to take the historical walk. This did not start too well - the Old Bull's Head where some election shenanigans took place took precedence to the Minster church of St John and St George. I began to suspect Preston was a rather recusant borough, especially as their badge is a lamb and flag. Missing out the church the next port of call was a fence - previously the site of the Temperance Hall. Formerley a cockpit where people bet on cocks fighting for money it became a place where people signed the pledge. A redemptive change of use. Demolished.
The next place on the walk was where Arkwright invented a spinning frame, and kick-started the industrial revolution. This was the house he lived in.
The next two places on the itinerary were car parks - Look one is the site of a big factory. Demolished. The other the site of the town gas works. Demolished. Oh dear - best to show people something other than car parks (and not even a good one - see later). The Gas Company was started by an RC priest... After looking at a gold thread works (converted to flats) and a statue of Sir Robert Peel in a square, it was time to go past the RC church (even invited to go inside - not me thanks) and the RC School - the first to be gas lighted which I suppose it would be given the founder of the gas company. Strange that the RC church should be mentioned and not the Established church...
The Corn Exchange, the hall of radicalism, was next on the list with its monument to cotton workers killed by the militia in 1842 during a period when mill owners reduced pay by 10%. The walk ended at a massive covered market.
It's rather a pity that nobady thought to include the best car park and bus station in the North West on the tour. Preston Bus station goes on for miles and is an iconic 20th century marvel, well deserving of listing. I used it once and it was easy to use.
There is also a rather nifty taxi rank. All in all Preston was pleasant if chilly.