Preston in the 1900s

Harris Museum

PRESTON IN THE 20th CENTURY

In 1901, the population of Preston was almost 120,000. The Leyland steam

The Leyland steam wagon company was formed in 1896. In 1904 they began making petrol driven vehicles. The name of the company was changed to Leyland Motors in 1907. After 1918 the cotton industry, which had dominated the town for so long, collapsed. There was very high unemployment.

In 1904 they began making petrol driven vehicles. The name of the company was changed to Leyland Motors in 1907. After 1918 the cotton industry, which had dominated the town for so long, collapsed. There was very high unemployment.

After 1918 the cotton industry, which had dominated the town for so long, collapsed. There was very high unemployment.  However, some new industries such as electrical goods and engineering came to the town, which largely offset the decline of textiles. In 1918 aircraft manufacture began in Preston. Courtaulds rayon factory opened in 1939.

In the 1920s and 1930s nearly 3,000 council houses were built in Preston. Another 1,500 were privately built. Penwortham and Fulwood grew rapidly at that time.

In 1903 Sessions House was built in Preston. The Town Hall was added to the building in 1933. A Cenotaph was built in Preston in 1926.

Preston escaped serious bomb damage during the Second World War and nobody was killed. However in 1944 61 people were killed when a plane crashed in Freckleton.

In the 1950s, immigrants from India, Pakistan and the West Indies came to Preston.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the cotton industry continued to decline and eventually virtually ceased. The dock also declined and closed altogether in 1981. Things grew worse in the late 1970s as firms such as British Leyland began making people redundant. Furthermore, the Courtaulds factory closed in 1979 with the loss of nearly 3,000 jobs. It was a severe blow to the local economy. Mass unemployment returned. The only bright spot in the gloom was the expansion of service industries like tourism.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a great deal of slum clearance in Preston and many new council houses were built. The Larches estate was built at Ashton. Other estates were built at Middleforth Green, Brookfield and Penwortham. From the mid-1970s the council's policy changed from tearing down old houses to giving grants to the inhabitants to improve them.

The Preston by-pass was built in 1958.

The St Georges Shopping Centre was built in 1964. The Fishergate Centre followed in the 1980s.

The ring road was built in the early 1970s. A bus station and a Guildhall were also built in Preston at that time. In 1999 Preston Guildhall was refurbished using a National Lottery grant.

S5 Box