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Preston - United Kingdom

Preston /ˈprɛstən/ (About this sound listen) is the administrative centre of Lancashire, England, on the north bank of the River Ribble.

The City of Preston local government district obtained city status in 2002, becoming England's 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. Preston has a population of 114,300, the City of Preston district 132,000 and the Preston Built-up Area 313,322. The Preston Travel To Work Area, in 2011, had a population of 420,661 compared to 354,000 in the previous census.

Preston and its surrounding area have provided evidence of ancient Roman activity, largely in the form of a Roman road which led to a camp at Walton-le-Dale. The Angles established Preston; its name is derived from the Old English meaning "priest's settlement" and in the Domesday Book is recorded as "Prestune". In the Middle Ages, Preston was a parish and township in the hundred of Amounderness and was granted a Guild Merchant charter in 1179, giving it the status of a market town. Textiles have been produced since the mid-13th century when locally produced wool was woven in people's houses. Flemish weavers who settled in the area in the 14th century helped develop the industry. In the early-18th century, Edmund Calamy described Preston as "a pretty town with an abundance of gentry in it, commonly called Proud Preston". Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning frame, was born in the town. The most rapid period of growth and development coincided with the industrialisation and expansion of textile manufacturing. Preston was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, becoming a densely populated engineering centre, with large industrial plants. The town's textile sector fell into terminal decline from the mid-20th century and Preston has subsequently faced similar challenges to other post-industrial northern towns, including deindustrialisation, economic deprivation and housing issues.

Preston is the seat of Lancashire County Council, houses the main campus of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and is home to Preston North End F.C., a founder member of the Football League and the first English football champions.

The right to hold a Guild Merchant was conferred by King Henry II upon the Burgesses of Preston in a charter of 1179; the associated Preston Guild is a civic celebration held every 20 years and 2012 was the latest Guild year. It is the only Guild still celebrated in the UK.

Before 1328, celebrations were held at irregular intervals, but at the guild of that year it was decreed that subsequent guilds should be held every 20 years. After this, there were breaks in the pattern for various reasons, but an unbroken series were held from 1542 to 1922. A full 400 year sequence was frustrated by the cancellation of the 1942 Guild due to World War II, but the cycle resumed in 1952. The expression '(Once) every Preston Guild', meaning 'very infrequently', has passed into fairly common use, especially in Lancashire.

Guild week is always started by the opening of the Guild Court, which since the 16th century has traditionally been on the first Monday after the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (the decollation of St John the Baptist) celebrated on 29 August. As well as concerts and other exhibitions, the main events are a series of processions through the city. Numerous street parties are held in the locality.

In 1952 the emphasis was on the bright new world emerging after the war. The major event, held in the city's Avenham Park, had every school participating, and hundreds of children, from toddlers to teenagers, demonstrated different aspects of physical education in the natural amphitheatre of the park.

In 1972 participants at the Avenham Park celebrations were treated to a low level, low speed, flypast by Concorde.

The 2012 Guild formally opened on 2 September with a mayoral proclamation and the return of "friendship scrolls" that had travelled the world. Highlights in the programme for the 2012 celebration included two concerts in Avenham Park - one by Human League and another, a "Proms In The Park", featuring José Carreras, Katherine Jenkins and the Manchester Camerata.

The River Ribble provides a southern border for the city. The Forest of Bowland forms a backdrop to Preston to the northeast while the Fylde lies to the west. At 53°45′N 2°42′W, Preston is approximately 27 miles (43 km) north west of Manchester, 26 miles (42 km) north east of Liverpool, and 15 miles (24 km) east of the coastal town Blackpool.

The current borders came into effect on 1 April 1974, when the Local Government Act 1972 merged the existing County Borough of Preston with Fulwood Urban District as an unparished area within the Borough of Preston. Preston was designated as part of the Central Lancashire new town in 1970.

Built in 1826 for the Calvinistic Methodists of Lady Huntington, the Carey Baptist church, on Pole Street, was formerly known as St Paul's Chapel. It was purchased by the Baptists in 1855. The church survives today and remains very active in the community.

St. John's Minster, formerly the Church of St John the Evangelist and prior to the reformation; St Wilfrid's Parish Church, is located on Church Street, in the centre of the city. From its origin it has been the parish church of Preston. The church of St George the Martyr, located on Georges Road, was founded in 1723. One of the many large active Roman Catholic parish churches is St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs, located on Garstang Road.

Preston was the location of the world's first foreign mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormons). As early as 1837 the first Mormon missionaries to Great Britain began preaching in Preston and, in particular, other small towns situated along the River Ribble. Preston is home to the world's oldest continuous branch (a small congregation) of the LDS Church. An official memorial to the church pioneers may be found in the Japanese Garden in Avenham Park. In 1998 the LDS erected a large temple at Chorley, near Preston, described by The Telegraph newspaper as "spectacular". The temple is officially known as the Preston England Temple.

Preston has a significant Muslim (Sunni Branch, particularly Hanafi school) population, the majority of which is of Gujarati Indian descent. The Muslim population is centred in the Deepdale, Riversway, Fishwick, Fulwood and Frenchwood areas. Preston has 12 mosques: five in Deepdale & St George's, one in Frenchwood, one in Riversway, two in Adelphi and three in Fishwick.

The 2001 Census recorded 72% of the population of the City of Preston as Christians, 10% as having no religion, and 8% as Muslims. The Hindu and Sikh populations are smaller at 3% and 0.6% respectively, but in both cases this represents the highest percentage of any local authority area in the North West. 2% of the city's population were born in other EU countries. Though still small in number in Preston, the Mormons maintain a large profile.

On 20 February 2006, the telecommunications company The Carphone Warehouse took over Tulketh Mill (formerly the home of the Littlewoods catalogue call centre) in the Ashton-on-Ribble area of the city. The building has undergone an extensive interior refurbishment and since March 2007 has been the workplace of some 800 employees. The site's main purpose is as a call centre for the broadband and landline services provider TalkTalk as well as LLU business Opal Telecom. The site also houses call centres for Geek Squad and Best Buy both of which along with The Carphone Warehouse are now part of Best Buy Europe. It was officially opened on 19 December 2006 by CEO Charles Dunstone and the Mayor of Preston.

Skiddle is an event ticketing operation based in Preston since 2001, which claims to be the UK's largest what's on guide.

Due to Preston's location as a transport hub, sitting between the M6, M55, M65, and M61 it is home to several freight and haulage companies.

The Riversway area (in the Ashton-on-Ribble area of the city) is also home to the Preston docklands, which has undergone redevelopment. Several office areas around the docks, along with significant residential presence. Several small businesses such as the Football League's LFE headquarters are based in the area, together with Riversway Developments who have been responsible for some of this redevelopment.