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A: Not much.

 

AJP Taylor was a controversial academic who spent much of his youth in Preston. He became famous in the 1950s as the first in a long line of TV historians. What did this man, famous for his outspoken views, think of his home town?

 

Some people may moan that Preston has been in decline since the Victorian era. AJP Taylor would disagree. According to AJP Taylor Preston has been in decline since the 1600s!

 

In a 1980 article about Preston inThe Spectator[1], AJP Taylor stated:

 

“Preston’s fate has been a sad one. It was in the Middle Ages, even in the 17th century, one of the most distinguished and interesting of Lancashire’s towns […] But what really ruined Preston was its period of prosperity, which was brought to it by the cotton trade.”

 

More people may agree with his following statement about post-war redevelopment of the city:

 

“After the second world war in particular, this 19th century Victorian town had acquired a character that has been absolutely destroyed. When I look at Preston now, it seems to me simply a combination of characterless towns, imposed by architects who have no idea how people should live.” Could he have been thinking of Preston’s bus station, by any chance?

 

AJP Taylor concludes by saying that he is: “Horrified by the ruthless way in which Preston has destroyed what character remained to it.”

 

Unfortunately, even now it’s quite difficult to disagree, and good to see these opinions put forward so forcefully by such an eminent Prestonian. Hopefully the words will resonate with future developers of Preston - for example, with those involved in the Tithebarn project.

 

AJP Taylor - background

 

AJP Taylor’s family was from Preston and although he was born near to Southport, AJP Taylor lived in Ashton for seven years from the ages of 13 to 20. He died in 1990. There is a blue plaque on the house where he lived on Rose Terrace, in Ashton’s Victorian suburb, between Waterloo Road and Tulketh Road.

 

Thanks!

 

Thanks to the reader who provided us with this article. It is well worth looking up as it does contain some fascinating facts about the history of Preston.

 

[1] Taylor, AJP. 'Preston revisited'. The Spectator 11 Oct 1980

 

 

When was the day that Lancashire’s cotton industry finally died? One candidate is 8 January 1968, with the shock announcement that Ashton's Tulketh Mill was closing down. The closure was to throw hundreds of people out of work and threatened the existence of the mill itself.

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Special case

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Many mills had closed before 1968[1] but Tulketh Mill was a special case. There are many industry cliches about old buildings and an ancient infrastructure that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, adapt to the times. Tulketh Mill's closure was a shock, however, because the mill was a ultra-modern exception.

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Tulketh Mill

(Tulketh Mill in 1925)

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We’ve recently be told about a rare visitor to the Preston area: an Iceland gull.

 

Steve Halliwell, secretary of the Preston Bird Watching and Natural History Society, provided some photos and told us more about why the gull has attracted so much attention:


 
Ironically, the Iceland gull is not a native of Iceland, although it does spend its winters there, arriving in September, and leaving in May. It nests in Greenland and part of Arctic Canada before its annual movement to slightly warmer climes. Some reach the Shetland Islands annually, as well as many other northern islands and the Scottish coast. Elsewhere, including the one that has been at Preston marina since mid-November 2010, it is an uncommon straggler.

 

Iceland Gull

(Click photos for full size)
 
To the non-bird-watcher, and even the novice, it can easily be overlooked as just another gull. A closer look, however, reveals that there is no black in the plumage, even in the plumage of a juvenile bird, such as Preston’s visitor. The only other gull with which it is likely to be confused is the glaucous gull, the other 'white-winged' gull, but that bird is larger and considerably more ferocious in appearance. The Iceland gull is about the same size as a lesser black-backed gull.


 
People have been from all parts of the county to see the bird. It will be noticed that in the photograph of the standing bird, the wings project beyond the end of the tail, and look long and narrow in flight. It flies with considerable ease and noticeable buoyancy.

 

Iceland Gull


 
The Preston Marina bird would seem to be existing on the many tit-bits that are offered, but it is possible that it moves each day to nearby fields lower down the river, to feed on its more normal spilt grains and insects.


 
To learn more about them visit www.prestonsociety.co.uk

 

Lively Polly Corner still exists, although the name is no longer used.

The corner of Blackpool Road and Pedder's Lane used to be covered in billboards, once adorned by adverts for Lively Polly - apparently a washing powder. The name stuck for a while - perhaps it's time to revive it?

Click here to see the junction as it once was - billboards and all.

 

Tucked away at the bottom of Pedder’s Lane is a discrete building with a pretty name: The Willows. It’s easy to ignore the building as you drive down Pedder’s Lane towards the docks. The best view of the house isn’t from the street, however, and the building is much larger and prettier than you’d expect.

 

Despite its unassuming appearance, The Willows is one of the oldest buildings in Ashton, which prompted ashtononribble.com to delve a little and see what we could find out about the building.

 

Here's what we know, but if you have any more details please help us by filling in the gaps: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

The Willows

 

The Willows will be familiar to anyone who has queued at Pedder's Lane traffic light waiting to get onto the docks. From the street it's not one of Ashton's most impressive buildings. Nevertheless it is one of the oldest buildings in the area, currently being run by the NHS as a child development centre.

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Staff at The Willows gave ashtononribble.com permission to take some photos of The Willows, generously giving all Ashton residents the chance for a pictoral tour. We discovered both that the building is prettier and that its grounds are larger than you'd expect.

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Click the images to see the full size.

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The front 

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Here is the unassuming main entrance of the building that everyone has seen as they wait at the traffic lights to enter the docks.

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The Willows 

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Here are four rare photos of Ashton taken back in 1983. In case you're not sure when that was, imagine a year when Kajagoogoo topped the charts and Margaret Thatcher won her second election. Suddenly this year doesn't look so bad :-).

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These incredible photos, well worth clicking to see their full size, were all taken from high buidlings, which could have included St Walburge's church.

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Click the photos to begin your game of 'spot the difference'.

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Ashton 1983

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Ashton 1983

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Ashton 1983

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Ashton 1983

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Thanks!

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Many thanks to the ashtononribble.com reader who supplied these excellent photos.

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Ashtonians - send us your photos!

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There are lots of pre-war photos on the internet of Ashton and Preston but very few of Ashton's more recent history. Many photos must have been taken since the Second World War of Ashton's streets and buildings. Please send us your photos and help us to build up a archive of Ashton's recent history.

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Do you have photos of:

  • Lane Ends in the 1960s?
  • Haslam Park before Tom Benson Way was built?
  • Savick shops over the years?
  • Larches estate when it was still brand new?
  • ....anything from Ashton's past?
 

Who would have guessed that one of Preston's grimiest areas, packed with factories, railways and even a canal, would, 100 years later, become the site of Preston's university.

These two photos, taken from St Walburge's spire looking towards the city centre, show just how Preston changed during the 20th century.

The first photo shows Preston in the early years of the 20th century (specific date unknown). The second amazing photo, taken almost from the same point of view, shows Preston's growing polytecnic in the 1980s.

Apparently, the older photo was taken from the very top of St Walburge's steeple. How they got old-fashioned, bulky camera equipment up the tower is anyone's guess!

The street layout is the same in both photos. In the old photo you can even see the former route of the Lancaster canal towards Preston's centre.

View of Preston 100 years ago

1983

Click the images for full size.

Anyone fancy taking a trip up the spire to take an up-to-date photo?

Thanks!

Thanks to the ashtononribble.com for sending us these fantastic photos.

 

Waterways

Parks

Tulketh Hall

Libraries

Lane Ends

Docks

Ashton House