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The Preston Industrial Revolution that Changed the City

Imagine going back in time to the 19th century, Preston has been an important way point for medieval battles and was once the wealthiest town in the country. Times are changing and the Preston Industrial Revolution is teetering on the edge of becoming a fully fledged force.

Lancashire, and Preston, in particular, underwent significant growth in their industrial advances and economic growth. So big was the growth, that the area has been credited with being the location that the modern world truly began.

A Study in Cotton

Preston industrial revolution
Flickr: Preston Digital Archive

Cotton production was one of the driving forces behind the Preston industrial revolution. The industry grew the population, accumulated wealth and helped build the city, as is often referenced by the remark that some trophy buildings are ‘built on cotton’.

Cotton manufacturing was the biggest employer in Preston in the 19th Century and grew steadily from one cotton mill to an industry that 80% of the population depended on.

The Preston industrial revolution is also credited with the invention of the water frame – a tool used for spinning cotton thread. The water frame was faster and produced much stronger yarn than previous models. Richard Arkwright, a proud Preston inventor and entrepreneur, was the one who developed and patented the idea.

Preston industrial revolution
Flickr: Preston Digital Archive

The Temperance Movement

The Preston Temperance Society was an important part of the temperance movement in the 19th century, and the term ‘teetotal’ was said to have been coined at one of the society’s meetings.

The Preston Temperance Society was led by Joseph Livesey, a Preston born man with a passion for abstaining from alcohol to fuel social reform. He also launched the first temperance publication in England, called Preston Temperance Advocate.

Continuing the Preston Industrial Revolution

Preston industrial revolution

The Preston industrial revolution didn’t end after the collapse of the cotton industry after World War I. The forward-thinking city continued to make leaps and bounds in industry and technology.

Electrical goods began to be manufactured in the city and engineering works soon followed to the city. More buildings began to spring up as more homes were built before the start of World War II.

Continuing Preston’s reputation as an important lay-by town, Britain’s first motorway passed by the then-town when it opened in 1958. The motorway would later become the M6, giving Preston a direct link to Manchester and Birmingham.

More transport development came in the form of a bypass around the town centre and a state of the art (for the 1960s) bus station.

The Future of Preston Industrial Revolution

Preston industrial revolution

While Preston may not be on the radar for top places to visit in the UK, it really should be. It’s one of the most underrated cities in the country and shouldn’t be underestimated.

The city maintains its reputation as a forward-thinking and innovative hub, with new developments and state of the art buildings settling in nicely amongst the historic backdrops.

Keep up to date with the latest hotel development that will see the Old Post Office be transformed into The Shankly Hotel Preston. Keeping with Preston’s innovative vibe and bringing a taste of luxury to the city centre.

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