Preston City Heritage Walk • Preston Guild City
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Preston Guild City

Preston City Heritage Walk

Outside view of Preston Sessions House and trees.

Stroll through the city centre for a heritage walk like no other...

Preston is jam-packed with heritage sights to feast your eyes on. The city centre is home to buildings and areas rich in history and architectural design. Below are the highlights of the City Heritage Walk to gear you up for your journey.

To start your journey make sure to download the printable guide from the documents section at the bottom of this page.

Preston City Heritage Walk points of interest

The Preston City Heritage Walk is roughly 1 mile long and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, but allow yourself plenty extra time to soak up the sights!

Preston Bus Station

Built in the 1960s, the Preston Bus Station was built to combine, at the time, Preston's four bus stations in to one convenient structure. The architects, Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson, designed the structure with the idea of giving normal people a building that gave the feel of luxury air travel. The overall design of the building, with its curved edges, has become iconic and features a Brutalist architectural style.

With a capacity of 80 double decker buses, the 'megastucture' is one of the biggest bus stations in Europe.

Covered Market

Preston's covered market was first dreamt up in 1837 due to a need for a dedicated covered market area with more space. The idea experienced many setbacks along with a delay in construction. The continued delays resulted in the markets being finished in November 1875.

The overall structure has been subject to change over the years, the most recent addition being the new Market Hall. The structure still remains a huge feature in Preston, along with the smaller structure, the old fish market, also being covered in 1924. The market is still active to this day and a great place to find a bargain.

Preston Town Hall

Once a gap between Preston Sessions House and the Earl Street Police Station, Preston Town Hall was completed in 1933. Described as elegant and well-balanced, the building was designed by architects Messrs Briggs and Thornley of Liverpool. The figures on the façade represent health, education and trade as well as remembering King Henry II, who granted the first Charter to Preston. 

Sessions House

Plans to erect the County Sessions House began in 1899, with the building officially opening in 1904. The building is Grade II listed and still in use as a courthouse today. Designed by Manchester architect, Henry Litter, there are many sculptures and ornate details to admire.

The Guild Hall & Charter Theatre

The Guild Hall was built to replace the town's Public Hall and was intended the be ready for the 1972 Preston Guild. However, construction was delayed and the hall officially opened in 1973. The building houses two performance venues along with many places to dine.

The Cenotaph

The Cenotaph was designed by architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, whose father, Sir George Gilbert Scott, designed Preston's first town hall before it mysteriously burnt down. The Cenotaph was paid for by public donations and is in memory of the men of Preston who lost their lives in WWI.

The Harris Museum & Art Gallery

The Harris Museum, Library and Art Gallery is a Grade I listed building. The building opened in 1893 as a free library, all made possible by the bequest of Preston Lawyer, Edmund Robert Harris. The building itself is a treat to admire and wander through, with it's collections and exhibitions being the icing on the cake. The museum also includes the Roll of Honour, in gratitude to the men of Preston who lost their lives during WWI.

The Obelisk

The Obelisk sits opposite The Cenotaph in Preston's Market Square. The monument dates back to 1782, originally installed for the 1782 Guild. It was removed and then restored again in 1979. The re-erection on the site was to mark the 800th anniversary of the city being granted the charter by King Henry II. In 1816 a gas lamp was fitted to the top of the Obelisk, making it the first outdoor location outside of London to be lit by gas.

Site of the Old Town Hall

Behind the Obelisk is the Crystal House building. This building was once the site of Preston Town Hall. The Town Hall was built between 1862 and 1866 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The building featured Gothic revival architecture, with the clock tower being the second largest in Britain after Big Ben. The Town Hall met its end in a mysterious fire in 1947, the damage to the hall was too severe to save and resulted in the remains being demolished.

Miller Arcade

The Miller Arcade was Preston's first indoor shopping centre and formerly included Turkish Baths. The Grade II building was built in 1899 and proudly displays Victorian features, including ornate tiling, a glass panelled ceiling and fine stone carvings.

Bull & Royal Hotel

The Old Bull, formerly known as the Bull & Royal Hotel, is a Grade II listed building. It isn't known for sure when it was erected but it was visited by young pretender, Prince Charles Edward, as well as Charles Dickens, who is said to have taken inspiration for his novel 'Hard Times' from his experiences in Preston. For many years the Bull & Royal Hotel catered for many visiting dignitaries and entertainers and its carriage entrance and other features can still be admired today. 

St. John's Minster

Originally dedicated to Saint Wilfrid, the church stands on an ancient Christian site. The earliest documentation of the church was in 1094. The church has since seen many changes, demolitions and renovations. The current standing building was built between 1853 and 1855 and was designed by E.H Shellard. The architecture features gargoyles and many fine attributes to feast your eyes on.

St Wilfrid's Church

Long after St John's Minster (originally St Wilfrid's) changed its dedication, the new St Wilfrid's was built in 1793.

Hidden on Chapel Street, this Church was founded by Father Joseph 'Daddy' Dunn. Dunn was also noted for starting the Preston Gaslight Company and formulating a better gas lighting technique, resulting in longer power and more brightness. Dunn transformed Lancashire and Preston by transporting cool-gas lighting around the area.

The church building is, unusually, parallel to the street and does not feature a distinctive spire. The reasons behind the indiscreet placement of the building is thought to be a result of the church being built before the restoration of the English Catholic hierarchy.

Fishergate Baptist Church

Built in 1857/58, this church was an active Baptist church for more than 150 years. The Italian Romanesque style building is Grade II listed and boasts many visual features.

Train Station

A station was first opened on this site in 1838, being extended in 1850. The current station was built in 1880 and extended again in 1903 and 1913. The station was the site of a free buffet for servicemen during both World Wars. This was now where the current waiting room is.

Other points of interest

Hungry for more? There are plenty more heritage sights to see around Preston and the city centre. You can relax in the peaceful Georgian Park of Winckley Square, not far from the magnificent Victorian Avenham and Miller Parks, or venture outside of the city centre for more of Preston's Parks, brimming with history and sights.

On top of this there is the Blue Plaque Heritage Walk, where you can discover more about Preston's historical sights and the people who shaped the city. To continue the historical journey, there's also the Preston Statues Trail and a series of Preston Remembers Trails as well as the trail of the 1715 Battle of Preston.

Map address for Preston City Heritage Walk

Key trail points:

  • Preston Bus Station, PR1 1YT
  • Covered Market, Earl Street, PR1 2JA
  • Preston Town Hall, Lancaster Road, PR1 2RL
  • Sessions House, Lancaster Road, PR1 2RL
  • The Guild Hall & Charter Theatre, Lancaster Road, PR1 1HT
  • The Cenotaph, Preston Flag Market, PR1 2AP
  • The Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Market Square, PR1 2PP
  • The Obelisk, Preston Flag Market, PR1 2AP
  • The Site of the Old Town Hall, Crystal House, PR1 2AQ
  • Miller Arcade, Lancaster Road, PR1 1DA
  • Bull & Royal Hotel, 141 Church Street, PR1 3BU
  • St. John's Minster, Church Street, PR1 3BT
  • St Wilfrid's Church, Chapel Street, PR1 8BU
  • Fishergate Baptist Church, PR1 2UR
  • Train Station, Fishergate, PR1 8AP