Interesting Facts • Preston Guild City
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Preston Guild City

Interesting Facts

Obelisk in 1800s Preston where the first outside gas light occured outside of London.

Preston conceals many interesting facts and achievements...

  • The Preston By-pass was Britain's first motorway. It was conceived, promoted, built and initially operated by its engineer, James Drake. The by-pass was opened on 5 December 1958 by the Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan. It later became part of the M6 motorway.
  • In 1179 Preston’s first Royal Charter was granted by Henry II conveying the right for the town to have a Guild Merchant. The first reliably recorded celebration of Preston Guild was held in 1397, when it was already over 200 years old. 
  • In 1816 Preston was the first provincial town in Britain to be lit by gas. Some of the gas pipes were made from old musket barrels welded end to end.  
  • Joseph Livesey started the Temperance Movement in Preston in 1832, requiring its followers to sign a pledge of total abstinence. The term ‘teetotal’ is derived from a speech made in Preston by John Turner, a follower of Livesey. A blue plaque commemorating the site of the speech can be found on the Blue Plaque Heritage Walk.
  • Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Hard Times’ was inspired by the hardship of Preston workers during the Great Lock Out when 26,000 people were put out of work in 1854. He stayed at the Bull & Royal Hotel on Church Street, along with many other notable names. The Bull & Royal Hotel can be seen on the Preston City Heritage Walk.
  • Moor Park, created in 1833, is the first park in the country to which the right of public access was granted.
  • In 1964 Ray Allen opened the UK’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken store on Fishergate, Preston. Ray met Colonel Harland Sanders in 1963, securing the famous American's fast food rights for his secret fried chicken recipe for the UK. 
  • St Walburge’s Church, at just over 300ft, is the tallest church in England that is not a cathedral. The church was designed by Joseph Hansom, the inventor of the Hansom cab.
  • Preston’s Caribbean Carnival, founded in 1974, is one of the oldest in the UK.
  • Dick Kerr’s Ladies, the most famous early women’s football team, was founded in Preston. The team played in the first women’s international in 1920 against France. They went on to tour the USA in 1922 playing mostly mens teams.
  • Alan Schofield broke the world record for the longest putt ever at 166ft 8in. The record was broken on 5 August 2000 at Fishwick Hall Golf Club, Preston. It was recognised as an official world record by the Guinness Book of Records. A plaque has been placed at the spot where the shot was taken. 
  • The row of red public telephone boxes along Market Street is the longest continuous row of the old style kiosks anywhere in the country. They were designed by Giles Gilbert Scott who also designed Preston’s war memorial in the Flag Market.
  • Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, once stayed at a property whilst visiting family on the corner of Cheapside and Friargate in the city centre. A blue plaque can be found here by following the Blue Plaque Heritage Walk.
  • The parents of legendary American outlaw, Butch Cassidy, originally lived in Preston before emigrating to America. It was said that Butch spoke with a strong Lancashire accent.
  • Leo Baxendale, who was born in Preston in 1930, drew the Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx and Dennis the Menace for the children’s comic the Beano.