Preston /ˈprɛstən/ is a city and the administrative centre of Lancashire, England. On the north bank of the River Ribble, it is an urban settlement and unparished area that together with surrounding rural civil parishes forms the City of Preston local government district of Lancashire. The 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 and is home to Preston North End F.C., a founder member of the Football League and the first English football champions.
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