Preston Tourism - Ideas For A Vibrant City in Touch With its History
If Preston City Council listened to its residents, rather than the greedy developers, they would be surprised at the creativity and imagination of the ideas that people would come up with. Here Terry - a member of the Save The Ribble Campaign puts forward his ideas for making Preston attractive to tourists and a better place to live, without wrecking the river or the green spaces around it. We are still waiting for Preston City Councils 'consultation exercise' on the Riverworks proposals, but anyone with good ideas like Terrys' can send them to the Save The Ribble Blog: email@example.com
These are some thoughts on how Preston could evolve as a City using its River and Meadowland environment without losing the very aspects that make it unique in a British City.
As these are just three initial suggestions and are from an amateur’s dreaming no costs are attempted but they are put as cheap, medium and expensive. But let’s not forget that the Riverworks project is talking of sums of £100 million plus so let’s presume the money could be found.
There is nowhere in the North West, other than Liverpool, which has Museums to rival those of, for instance, York or Glasgow. Manchester has the Science Museum but that’s not quite the same thing. I don’t think of Manchester as a museum city.
Tourists like museums. We already have the National Football Museum which, in my opinion, is not that well pushed as an attraction. There is also the County Museum which could be re housed in a more attractive and better located environment. We have a Steam Engine Centre which could be helped with, perhaps, a link to the mainline Preston Station. We have no remembrance of Preston as a Mill Town and that could be addressed. We could, at a pinch, include Ribchester and the Roman connection.
However, the main part of this section is to push for two more attractions that at present don’t exist. The minor one would be a tourist trail and/or building exploring the fascinating discovery of the Cuerdale Hoard. This could be where it was discovered or if that is not possible then it could be next to a building around the Shaws Inn area that will be mentioned below. It could include a history of treasure hunting, how to use metal detectors etc.
Then the main additional historical museum would be a museum to commemorate the Battle of Preston in 1648. These are quotes from ‘Bloody Preston’ by Stephen Ball and Mike Seed.
“Preston was arguably the most important battle of the English Civil Wars. Upon its outcome hinged the political future of three nations…The Battlefield of Preston is not marked in any way and many local and national histories give scant mention of this momentous battle… in the view of the Establishment and the bureaucrats charged with the history of such things the most significant British battle of the seventeenth Century does not even exist.”
And it’s here on the banks of the Ribble. And what’s more, one of the major turning points of the battle took place in an area that still exists almost as it did then. Watery Lane where elements of the Lancashire Militia using their local knowledge came down from the heights of Ribbleton to Fishwick Bottoms to attack the Royalists trying to cross the Walton Bridge.
With a bit of imagination and special effects a trail could be developed up through the woodland and then down the Lane back to a purpose built Civil War Centre around Shaws Inn. I’m sure that the English Civil War Society and The Sealed Knot would be delighted to have a Northern Headquarters there.
The battlefield of Culloden outside Inverness shows what can be done with such an event. It could be unique in England.
Lancashire Coastal Path
The Lancashire Coastal Path ( LCP ) may not be the Pennine Way or the Lakes but for local people or those from further afield who view walking as one of the best forms of exercise it is a very acceptable substitute with fantastic views and varying interests from Arnside to Preston. Unfortunately from Freckleton to Preston there are two problems. The first is that it is not Coastal and the second is that it’s not a Path. It doesn’t exist.
But it could be a real bonus to the LCP with some investment. Of course most of it is outside Preston Council’s control but let’s assume co-operation from the other bodies and if there is a problem with ownership of land let’s presume the technical ability to, maybe, bypass the land with a sort of Pontoon on the river itself.
This would make a stretch of proper coastal path going past Warton Airport, Freckleton Docks, a major bird habitat, before reaching the canal. That is a canal extended again and developed into a river/canal link with a boating centre with café, marina and small workshops.
The walk would then continue to the Steam Engine Centre where, perhaps, steam trains could take tired walkers direct to a Bus/Mainline integrated transport link at Preston Station.
This option is probably unrealistic. But with £100 million who knows?
The plan would be to completely drain the Marina and clean it to the extent that Salford has done with its Quay where swimming took place in the recent Commonwealth Games.
Then at the lock end reinstate the Marina. It’s a beautiful site when all the boats are there. Then about half way down dam it off and then ( and here we go into fantasy land ) create a beach at the city end for all the people of Preston to enjoy. Make the water swimmable. Get rid off those useless office blocks and make a seaside environment. Paris has done it to a lesser extent.
Or if that’s too whacky build a Lido there. We need an open air swimming area for kids ( and adults ) to enjoy the outside life. In my younger days there were plenty of Lidos and most of my memories of my teens are of whiling away the Summer swimming. And in Winter it could be frozen for skating. The technology is there for that to happen. All we need is imagination.
And that’s been the purpose of this small consultation exercise. Using imagination to create a Preston that keeps the best without stagnating or bricking over what makes the City different from all the other towns and cities of the UK.