A modern city that wears its Roman and Anglo-Saxon roots on its sleeve, Preston is a fine place to spend a weekend or longer. What’s more, the Lancashire city has plenty of impressive facts to its name. Here are just 10 of them:
1. It was the birthplace of the UK’s motorway network
The Preston By-pass, which is now part of the M6, was built in 1958 and was the first British road to be built to motorway standards. It was a little over eight miles long and ran from Bamber Bridge to Broughton.
2. Its football team were the first ‘Invincibles’
Preston North End may not be thought of as a giant of English football today, but they won the league and FA Cup in 1889 without losing a game all season. Only Arsenal (in 2004) have completed a top-division league campaign unbeaten since.
3. Preston invented the word ‘teetotal’
Referring to abstention from alcohol, the first recorded use of the phrase ‘teetotal’ was at a Preston Temperance Society meeting in 1833.
You don’t have to be teetotal to visit though, as the number of quality pubs and bars in the city demonstrates.
4. The first KFC outside North America was built in Preston
In May 1965, Prestonians became the first people outside the US and Canada to tuck into Kentucky Fried Chicken. Today, there are three KFCs in central Preston.
5. Butch Cassidy had family from Preston
You read that correctly – the notorious American outlaw’s father Maximillian lived in Preston. It’s even said that Butch had a Lancashire accent!
6. It was the first UK town to be lit by gas
This year marks exactly two centuries since a chain of gas pipes was used to illuminate Preston. In a move that would probably not comply with today’s gas safety standards, some of the pipes were made from musket barrels.
7. Several Beano characters were the product of a Preston mind
Childhood comic favourites Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids were created by Leo Baxendale, who was born, brought up and educated in Preston. He was an artist for the Lancashire Evening Post before his well-known work for The Beano.
8. It’s believed to have the UK’s longest row of red phone boxes
How long is it since you last used a payphone? You can rediscover their charm with a row of eight iconic red telephone boxes, considered by many to be a hallmark of Britishness, on Market Street in Preston.
The city wants to keep the boxes there, but recent years have seen talk of repurposing them.
9. Its bus station is a celebrated piece of Brutalist architecture
Built in the late 1960s, modern architectural charity The Twentieth Century Society has described Preston’s distinctive bus station as “one of the most significant Brutalist buildings in the UK.”
10. There are great places to stay
What better place to wind down after a pulsating day in Preston than at the Preston Leyland hotel? The hotel combines a stylish contemporary design with the ideal location.