In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Preston like this:
Preston.-- parl. and mun. bor., par. and township, port, and manufacturing and market town, N. Lancashire, on Lancaster Canal and on river Ribble, near the head of its estuary, 28 miles NE. of Liverpool, 31 NW. of Manchester, and 209 from London by rail - par., 16,116 ac., pop. 98,783; township, 2127 ac., pop. 91,578; mun. bor. (including Preston and Fishwick townships), 3721 ac., pop. 96,537; parl. bor., pop. 100,262; 4 Banks, 4 newspapers. Market-days, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. ...
Preston (originally Priest's-town) was the birthplace of Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792), famous for his inventions in cotton-spinning, and is one of the principal seats in Lancashire of the cotton mfr., which was introduced in 1777, and gradually superseded the linen mfr., the former staple trade of the town; it has also iron and brass foundries, engineering and machine works, and steam-boiler works. Preston superseded Ribchester as the port of the Ribble, was constituted an independent port in 1843, and has a considerable coasting trade; its facilities as a port will be greatly increased by the deepening and diversion of the Ribble, the construction of a wet dock, two graving docks and a timber pond, and the erection of warehouses - works estimated to cost £800,000. Roman coins and Saxon ware have been found in the neighbourhood of Preston, which was the scene of the defeat of the Scots under Hamilton by Cromwell in 1648, and of the surrender of the Jacobite forces in 1715. It received its first charter of incorporation from Henry II., and obtained parliamentary representation in the 23d of Edward I. It returns 2 members to Parliament. The parliamentary limits were extended in 1885, so as to include such parts of the municipal borough as were beyond the parliamentary borough, the local government district of Fulwood, and so much of the township of Lea, Ashton, Ingol, and Cottam, and of the township of Penwortham, as will be added to the municipal borough on the 1st of June 1889, by virtue of the "Ribble Navigation and Preston Dock Act, 1883".
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Preston has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Preston. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Preston and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Preston in Lancashire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 18th April 2015
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