Walk 1 – Background Information
These notes are a fuller explanation of the geological trail guide to Preston produced by GeoLancashire and the LGGA (Lancashire Group of the Geologists’ Association).
The route of the Preston Geotrail between Penwortham Bridge and Walton Bridge does not encounter solid rock geology, but several of the bridges and the parks contain interesting rocks from the local area and from further afield.
The aim of this background material is to put Preston in its geological context, to relate the rocks which have been used in the bridges, parks and buildings to the stratigraphy and to link the geology of the Preston area with that found elsewhere in the Geotrail series.
The appendices contain information about the area additional to the geology.
Figure 1. Stratigraphy of the Triassic, Permian and Carboniferous rocks which underlie Preston (British Geological Survey online time chart)
The British Geological Survey website gives the latest internationally agreed definitions of stratigraphy, together with dates in Ma (millions of years before present), as shown in Figure 1.
Nomenclature has changed in recent years so that Bunter Sandstone is now known as Sherwood Sandstone and Keuper Marl is now called Manchester Marl as the BGS strives to standardise the names of rock units.
The rocks beneath Preston and the Lancashire coast are of Middle and Lower Triassic age. Rocks of Permian age are absent at the surface in the county, while the older Carboniferous rocks form the surface rocks of upland Lancashire. The diagram below shows the relationships of these rock units.
Figure 2. The stratigraphy of the Preston area (compiled from the BGS 1:50,000 series map, sheet 75)
Figure 2 shows that there is an unconformity between the older Carboniferous rocks and the younger Permian and Triassic rocks. This represents a period of time when either no deposition occurred or when some of the rocks which had been deposited were removed by erosion. This would mean that the area was uplifted, certainly above sea level, so that subaerial erosion could take place. The unconformity represents a time gap of several million years.
There is often a change in the orientation of the beds above an unconformity. The older beds often show evidence of folding and/or faulting, followed by subsidence. The next period of deposition, often under water, lays down horizontally bedded rocks, so that the unconformity is clearly identifiable. Probably the most famous unconformity is that described in 1788, by James Hutton on the Scottish coast at Siccar Point between Edinburgh and Berwick on Tweed – see Figure 3.
Figure 3 Hutton’s unconformity at Siccar Point, where the older Silurian greywacke rocks have been folded so that the beds are vertical, and eroded. Above this the younger Devonian red sandstones were deposited horizontally and have since been gently tilted. (Bakersfield College image from the internet)
The Carboniferous/Permian unconformity does not appear at the surface in Lancashire and it seems likely that there is no significant change in orientation of the bedding. It has however been proved in boreholes. The Collyhurst sandstone, a Permian rock, is absent east of Preston where the Sherwood sandstone rests directly on the Millstone Grit Series.
3. Depositional environment
The Triassic rocks which underlie Preston were deposited at a time when the British Isles were located some distance north of the Equator, in the tropics, as shown in Figure 4. The environment was very similar to that of the Sahara Desert today, with almost no maritime influence, so very little rainfall. Temperatures would have been those of a hot desert climate with a large diurnal range and very little seasonal variation.
Figure 4. Reconstruction of the position of the continents at about 250 Ma ago. The British Isles lie in the middle of a large continent, Pangea, at about 25° north of the Equator.
The red colouration of the sandstones is typical of desert deposition, where the iron content of the rocks is oxidised giving the red colour. A close examination of these sandstones also gives clues to the environment of deposition. Where the climate is hot and dry, very little vegetation is able to survive, so that the land surface is exposed and wind erosion is the most common agent of erosion. Sand particles are picked up by the wind and may be carried many miles before being deposited, often in sand dunes. During this process, the particles collide so that they become rounded and frosted. If the sand is deposited in dunes, the particles will be small and almost uniform in size. The wind is not able to carry particles of large size. The salt deposits of the Preesall area are indicative of an area of inland drainage, rather like the Dead Sea, where evaporation exceeds precipitation and evaporite minerals including halite, gypsum and potash may be evaporated from saline water.
Despite the general lack of rainfall in deserts, water is a major agent of erosion. When rain falls, it does so in violent, torrential storms, resulting in flash floods. These floods carry enormous quantities of sediment, which are then deposited as the water ceases to flow. Because the time and distance are short, there is no time for the particles to be rounded, so deposits of this sort are characterised by being made up of angular fragments of a variety of sizes.
It is thus possible to decide whether sand has been carried and deposited by wind or by water. Beach sand however, may have been moved first by water, then winnowed by the wind so that its particles will have combinations of both characteristics.
In addition, if the sediment is derived from granite and contains the mineral feldspar, which decays to clay minerals in humid conditions, it will often contain feldspars and be described as arkosic.
4. Further notes on Geotrail locations
Location 1, Penwortham old bridge
This is one of the oldest river crossings in Preston, Figure 5. At low tide it is possible to see that the river is flowing over solid bedrock, red Triassic sandstone, from which much of the city of Chester is built. It is not easy to get a good look at these rocks in the river at Penwortham, but sometimes, when there is a particularly low tide, they can be examined more closely.
The presence of rock so near the water level is not normal in a river valley (see Appendix Two) and is evidence for a major shift in the route taken by the river Ribble since the end of the last period of glaciation.
The solid rock bed of the river in the Preston area is almost certainly the reason that the river could easily be forded at Preston (see Appendix Three).
Figure 5. Penwortham Old Bridge, now used as a footbridge linking Penwortham with the city centre
The bridge is built of three different sandstones. The piers and some of the structure are made from red Triassic Sherwood Sandstone, although the source quarry is not known.
The arches and some of the superstructure are made from Fletcher Bank Grit, a Carboniferous sandstone of Namurian age, quarried at Whittle Hill near Chorley. The sediment forming this stone was deposited in the huge delta of a river system flowing from high mountains to the north. It contains particles of many different sizes, including some fairly large angular quartz pebbles.
The road deck is made from Haslingden Flags, a fine-grained Carboniferous sandstone characterised by being fissile and so readily split into flagstones. This material was quarried in huge quantities in the Rossendale valley and was used all over Britain in addition to being exported to many parts of the world. In the road deck, the stone has been cut into setts, widely used in road paving before tarmacadam became the standard surfacing material. The variety of rock used for setts is sometimes called ‘lonkey’ (perhaps a corruption of Lancashire – ‘Lanky’) and is a pale, grey fine-grained rock of almost uniform particle size.
Location 2, the railway viaduct
This was built in 1835, only five years after the opening of the world’s first passenger railway from Manchester to Liverpool.
The viaduct which carries the west coast mainline over the river is constructed from sandstone ashlar of two different types, Fletcher Bank Grit and Pendle Grit. Quarries at Whittle Hill near Chorley provided Fletcher Bank Grit for the pier bases. This is the coarse sandstone seen in the bridge at Penwortham and it belongs to the Marsden Formation in the Millstone Grit Group of Carboniferous rocks.
The upper parts of the viaduct are made from Pendle Grit, quarried on Longridge Fell. Pendle Grit is lower down in the Millstone Grit Group and therefore older than the Fletcher Bank Grit. Figure 6 shows these two rock units in the basin between the Askrigg Block in the north and the Derbyshire Platform in the south, which was filled with sediments during Carboniferous times. The thickness of the sediments gives some idea of the scale of this basin. More than 2000m of deltaic sediment accumulated in the basin.
The later western extension of the viaduct, built when the railway was widened, is made from red Sherwood Sandstone.
Following the development of the railways stone could be brought cheaply to Preston, resulting in a town whose public buildings are largely built of Pendle Grit. The Harris Museum is just one of many fine buildings in Preston made from this stone.
Figure 6. Sketch diagram to show the relative positions of Pendle Grit and Fletcher Bank Grit within Carboniferous sediments of northern England (adapted from BGS Pennines and adjacent areas)
Location 3, beside Walton Bridge
As you cross the river Darwen, the path leads around the edge of a Roman site (see Appendix 4).
Figure 7 Walton Bridge and the shingle bank composed of glacial erratics
If you walk along the riverside path downstream of Walton Bridge, you will find a shingle bank, composed of pebbles of many different types of rock, see Figure 7. These are glacial erratics, left behind by ice sheets (see Appendix 4). You might be able to find pebbles of limestone – sometimes containing fossils. There are also various sandstones, grey/green volcanic rock from the Lake District and even some granite pebbles like the one shown in Figure 8, which could have travelled about 100 miles from where they were formed in south west Scotland or the Lake District.
Figure 8 A glacial erratic in the form of a granite pebble, brought by ice sheets from the Lake District or Scotland
The bridge itself, like the railway viaduct, is built from two sandstones from different areas. The older downstream side was built in the 1780s using Fletcher Bank Grit, probably also from Whittle Hill Quarry near Chorley. The western extension was built between 1939 and 1950 with arches of reinforced concrete, while the stone facings and parapet are made from Longridge Stone, a local name for Pendle Grit.
The bridge, which carries the A6 across the river, has been an important river crossing for many years (see Appendix 3).
Location 4, Avenham Park
A obelisk, commemorating the Boer War, dates from 1904 and is 25 feet high, made from grey granite with polished red and pink granite and bronze plaques. It is believed that the granite came from Aberdeen.
Figure 9 The East Lancashire railway viaduct across the river Ribble now a foot and cycle way
Between Avenham and Miller Parks is a former railway bridge made from Pendle Grit, built about 1848, to carry the East Lancashire railway – see Figure 9. It is built of rusticated sandstone and red brick and now carries a public footpath and cycleway across the river.
Location 5, Miller Park
This park owes its origins to Thomas Miller, a mill owner who bought land between the East Lancashire railway and the North Union Railways, now the West Coast Main Line. He gave the land to the Corporation. His generosity gave impetus to the creation of the park, laid out in a formal ornamental style. The park is dominated by a magnificent flight of steps made from Pendle Grit, which was quarried on Longridge Fell, see Figure 10. A memorial to the 14th Earl of Derby who died in 1869, was constructed from Portland stone and granite and placed in a central position at the top of the steps.
Figure 10 The steps made from Pendle Grit and statuary in Miller Park
Carboniferous Limestone pavement from Westmorland forms a rockery in the Japanese Garden. The council archives in Preston contain a record of the purchase of 400 tons of rock at 19s 6d (97½p) per ton, supplied by Wardley Bros of Milnthorpe in 1935. The council borrowed £3000 for the work, probably as part of a job creation scheme at the time of the Depression when several of these schemes provided employment.
This limestone is of Carboniferous age and was laid down about 350 million years ago in clear tropical seas, a little to the south of the Equator, and consists of the remains of animals which lived in those warm waters. Fossils of crinoids, corals and brachiopods can be found in the limestone blocks.
Figure 11 Limestone pavement at Gait Barrows NNR near Silverdale
During the past million years or so, the area of northern England where the limestone was quarried, was subjected to repeated glaciations. In several places around Arnside and Silverdale and in the Yorkshire Dales, the result is limestone pavement, characterised by clints and grikes as shown in Figure 11. These natural ‘rockeries’ were attractive to gardeners, who carried off large quantities to create rockeries like that in the park. Limestone pavements are now protected by law, making it illegal to remove blocks. Many areas of limestone pavement in Britain now have the status of Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Beside the railway embankment is another rockery, this time made from dark red, coarse, Permian sandstone, probably from Lazonby Quarries, Penrith or from Locharbriggs near Dumfries. This rock was laid down when Britain was experiencing a climate not unlike that of the present day Sahara Desert. Wind- blown sand particles, very rounded and frosted by collisions with other sand grains, created large dunes. The salt beds of Cheshire and the Preesall area date from this period of desert climate.
Both rockeries were built by James Pulham and Sons, who made many well-known rockeries and managed to make them look natural rather than man-made. The sandstone rockery was built when the embankment against which it rests was extended in1879, perhaps as part of the council’s deal with the railway company over the widening of the railway.
Aitkenhead N et al, Pennines and Adjacent Areas, BGS
Chiti B, Holocene Fluvial and Marine Influences and settlement interactions in the lower Ribble valley, Lancashire, UK PhD thesis, University of Stirling, 2004.
Dickson E, Proceedings of the Liverpool Geological Society, 1886-7, Notes on the excavations for the Preston Docks.
Dickson E, Proceedings of the Liverpool Geological Society, 1887-8, Geological notes on the Preston dock works and Ribble development scheme.
Dickson E, Proceedings of the Liverpool Geological Society, 1893, The Ribble estuary, with notes on the formation of sand and the disposal of dissolved matter in river water.
Hickin, Edward J, ‘The Development of meanders in natural river channels’, American Journal of Science, Vol. 274, April 1974.
Holden: The evolution of the Ribble estuary, Sefton Borough Council.
Watkins, W Thompson, Roman Lancashire.
BGS 1:50 000 Geology Series, Preston sheet 75 solid and drift
BGS 1:50 000 Geology Series, Preston sheet 75 solid
English Heritage Strategic Stone Survey for Lancashire
BGS 6” geological maps
Lancashire County Council website –
Lancashire County Council digital mapping service – Mario
Appendix One – The impact of glaciation on the course of the river Ribble
The river Ribble does not occupy a normal river valley.
Some 24,000 years ago, ice sheets from Scotland, the Lake District and N. Yorkshire covered the area to a great depth (ice covered Winter Hill for example). The ice sheets achieved a more or less flat upper surface, so they were thinner on the high ground than on the lowlands. When the ice melted it went from the hills faster than from the lowland, so that water flowing away from the uplands had to find a way around the ice to get to the sea.
It is clear that the river Ribble previously flowed along a different route from its current course. It is possible that its old course took it along the northern edge of Longridge Fell to reach the sea near where Blackpool Tower now stands, although this has not been conclusively proved. Figure 12, the lower section in particular, shows diamict (boulder clay or till) plunging to depths in excess of 20m beneath Blackpool Tower.
Figure 12 Coastal sections at Blackpool from the researches of Binney (1855) and de Rance (1877) redrawn by Wilson and Evans (1990) and a recompilation of the boreholes through Blackpool against a topography derived from the NextMAP DEM (redrawn from Wilson and Evan 1990) Chiti, 2004
The BGS map for the Preston area shows buried river channels taking different routes from their current courses, but it suggests that the Ribble flowed further south than its present course. It is interesting to note that Preston lies in a small ‘rockhead valley’ and is almost surrounded by rockhead at OD (Ordnance Datum = sea level). In other words, if there were no superficial cover of glacial deposits, river alluvium, etc, Preston would be at the coast! The excavations to create Preston docks proved Sherwood sandstone at 11 feet (3.6m) depth; a great deal of rock must have been removed to make the dock deep enough even for 19th Century shipping.
Figure 13 Sketch to show present and preglacial drainage patterns related to rockhead in the Preston area
(adapted from BGS 1:50 000 Geology Series, Sheet 75 Preston)
Dickson states that because rockhead is so near the ground surface, the present course of the Ribble was not that followed by glacial meltwater, which would have scoured a much deeper channel. Figure 13, adapted from the BGS geological map, shows the probable pre-glacial courses of several local rivers. This means that the whole river
catchment/drainage system is post glacial and must have been developed within the last 10,000 years or so.
Appendix Two – River morphology
Downstream of Preston, the Ribble estuary was too wide for a bridge and even today the ‘last bridge’ is at Riversway immediately west of the city.
Names on the current Ordnance Survey maps indicate the marshy nature of the terrain. The area south of the Ribble in particular, has very little development and few roads. Hutton Marsh, Longton Marsh, Hesketh Out Marsh, Banks Marsh and Crossens Marsh are flat areas of saltmarsh and mud flats whose only features are the constantly shifting channels.
Even the Ribble Way, which ideally should start close to the sea, has been constrained by the terrain. The river Douglas joins the Ribble west of Longton and there is no crossing point north of the A59. This would have created a long detour for Ribble Way walkers along a major trunk road, so the route starts at Longton.
North of the river, Warton Marsh is a relic of the marshland much of which has been reclaimed and developed as Ansdell and Lytham at the seaward end and as BAE’s Warton site near Freckleton.
Figure 14 is a chart drawn up in 1736 and demonstrates that navigation of the channels of the Ribble Estuary was important long before the training of the main navigation channel and the opening of the Port of Preston in 1892. (Sefton MBC archives) This map, which puts north at the left edge rather than the top of the page, shows the multitude of sandbanks and channels. Although these have been marked on the chart as though permanent, they would certainly have shifted their positions. Navigating these waters must have been very difficult.
Figure 14 Map of the Ribble estuary, from the chart of Fearon and Eyes (1736-7), (Figure 5.1).
In 1853, the Ribble Navigation Company began the process of building retaining walls downstream of Preston to control the river channel. In his address to the Liverpool Geological Society in 1893, the President, Mr E Dickson says,
In 1853 an act was obtained by a Company to improve the navigation of the Ribble, and to this end training walls were put down in different parts of the estuary, the intention being that the tidal water should, instead of being allowed to wander over the estuary, be directed into one channel. It was supposed that the scour of the ebb tide would always be sufficient to preserve the channel.
An important development, following the establishment of a navigable channel, was the construction of the docks on the north side of the river during the 1880s. This involved diverting the river into a newly made channel during the construction phase, before the river was allowed to return to its former course.
The President of the Liverpool Geological Society, E Dickson, presented three papers on the subject in the 1886-7 session, the 1887-8 session and the 1893 session.
In these he detailed the process of diversion of the river into a ‘holding channel’ during the works, the excavations needed and an amazing catalogue of animal and human bones recovered in the digging. These included large numbers of Aurochs, a large and now extinct member of the cattle family. It is probable that the wild white cattle of Chillingham Castle in Northumberland are the nearest living relatives of these animals. Red Deer bones and antlers also figure in the list of recoveries, as do the remains of horses, goats and sheep and several species of marine species including grampus, pilot and bottle-nosed whales and a porpoise.
Dickson lists over 50 human skulls and it appears that these were discovered quite regularly during the works. A boat was found in 1887, of almost nine feet in length, which appears to have been hollowed or more likely burned from a single log of oak, see Figure 15. He says that it appears very old but no age can be assigned to it. If it still exists in the museum collection at Preston, where all the artefacts were sent, it could now be dated using dendrochronology, but it is unlikely to have survived, having been found long before the process of conservation of such timbers was understood.
Figure 15 Dickson’s drawing of the dimensions of the boat found in the excavations for Preston docks in 1887
In addition to the construction of the docks, the promoters of the scheme undertook the process of enlarging and deepening the navigable channel. The existing training walls had to be extended further into the estuary and the channel had to be deepened by dredging. This work necessitated the sinking of several boreholes along the centre of the river channel. The results of these borings were used to construct a section along the river channel, which has been reproduced here, despite the difficulty of reading it, see Figure 16.
Figure 16 Section of the bed of the river Ribble, drawn during work to construct Preston docks
Figure 17 Map showing the results of a survey of the Ribble estuary in 1937. (Sefton BC Report, 1986)
Figure 17 shows the results of a 1937 survey of the estuary. The map gives a clear indication that the river has been ‘entrained’ into a straighter channel.
Figure 18 BGS Six Inch Geological map number Lancashire Sheet 60SE from about 1929 (BGS archive)
The geological map, Figure 18, shows the straightened Ribble channel between the marshes of the estuary. The entrance to the docks can be seen at the eastern end of the map.
The lifetime of the docks as a major port was fairly short because the size of shipping increased, especially during the second half of the 20th Century. The retail park at Riversway now occupies what was Preston Docks.
Upstream from Preston
Upstream from Preston the river Ribble occupies a valley with steep ‘bluffs’ between Ribchester and Preston. The valley is approximately one kilometre wide and the river meanders across this relatively flat flood plain.
The development of meanders has been studied for many years. In his paper ‘The Development of meanders in natural river channels, E J Hickin, 1974 states that there is a relationship between the ratio radius of channel curvature and the channel width which determines the ‘wavelength’ of the meanders.
This relationship is not demonstrated in the Ribble meanders – the channel width is far too narrow and the discharge too small for the wavelength of the meanders.
The most likely explanation for this discrepancy is that the river channel and the meander system were established at the end of the last period of glaciation, when huge volumes of water poured out from the melting ice sheets.
The present river does not discharge massive volumes of water, so that it is a ‘misfit’ stream occupying a valley created by a much larger volume of water.
Meanders ‘travel’ along the course of the river over time – imagine holding a skipping rope and ‘snaking it’ – the ‘snake’ travels along the rope but the rope itself does not travel – you are still holding the end.
Figure 19 River terrace data for the reach east of Preston from the mapping of Chiti (2004)
Fig 19 shows the lower Ribble meandering between the bluffs. A series of four river terraces is shown as coloured areas, Cuerdale Terrace being the oldest, Ribchester Terrace the youngest. These terraces and river cliffs are not particularly evident along the route of the Preston geotrail, but there is no building development on the flat floodplain south of the river in this area, while Frenchwood to the north of the river occupies a relatively high position above the floodplain.
At Brockholes, however, the river cliff delineates the northern limits of the reserve and the M6 can be seen climbing away from the river crossing. Until the bridge carrying the motorway was built, there was no river crossing between Walton Bridge carrying the A6 and the bridge upstream of Ribchester, apart from the A59 Brockholes Bridge.
The 1840 Ordnance Survey map shows that there were five ferries; near Samlesbury Church, near Elston Hall, near Baldeston Hall, near Osbaldeston Hall and the last to disappear, the Dinckley or Hacking ferry (marked as Trowers ferry on the 1840 map) near Dinckley, which has been replaced by a footbridge, see Figure 20. These ferries plus a ford upstream of Red Scar, were a vital transport link until very recently.
Figure 20 Dinckley Ferry before the suspension bridge was built in 1951
Appendix Three – Why is Preston here?
Preston became an important settlement because of its position at a vital river crossing point between the marshes of the coastal plain and estuary and the Pennine uplands.
Historically, places in positions like this became what we would now call ‘hubs’ – meeting places and market centres, where different kinds of goods could be exchanged.
Examples are; London, Newcastle, Inverness, Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Bordeaux – the list is long.
Although never the largest town in Lancashire, Preston became the county town of the pre-1974 county because of its central location. Manchester, Liverpool and Lancaster are all located at the edges of the County Palatine. The 1974 boundary changes have meant that Preston has lost most of its ‘county hinterland’, leaving it somewhat diminished as the county town of a much reduced administrative county of Lancashire.
Bridges and transport links
Several bridges have been built across the river Ribble at Preston to carry important road and rail links.
It appears that the Romans crossed the rivers Ribble and Darwen at Preston by fords rather than bridges, the main river crossing in Roman times being a bridge several miles upstream at Ribchester, where the Manchester to Lancaster road crossed the east-west route leading to York (see Appendix Four)
The bridge at Penwortham (Location 1 in the Geotrail guide), now a footbridge only, is probably one of the oldest crossings of the river, see Figure 21.
Figure 21 Penwortham Bridge
Walton Bridge carries the A6, formerly the main road from London to Carlisle. The 1840 Ordnance Survey map shows the road, at that time managed by the Wigan and Preston
Turnpike Trust, see Figure 22. A different Turnpike Trust managed the road south of the river. Figure 23 is an illustration of Walton Bridge in 1728, before the development of turnpikes. Further information about turnpikes in the area can be found at http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/environment/historichighways/turnpike.asp and it is clear from the map, Figure 24 showing turnpike development, that Preston was at the centre of an important network of roads.
Figure 22 Section of the 1840 OS map, showing Walton Bridge over the Ribble
Figure 23 1728 engraving by S and N Buck depicting the Walton Flats and the Darwen-Ribble confluence, with Walton le Dale parish church in the middle distance (Chiti, 2004)
Figure 24 The turnpike roads of Lancashire showing Preston as a nodal centre
The turnpikes continued after the development of the railways, when their income began to decline and it was eventually decided that toll gates were a hindrance to trade. Responsibility for the road network was transferred to the county councils. The network of ‘A’ roads continued to be the major trunk roads until the late 1950s when the motorway network was started.
The first section of motorway in Britain, the ‘Preston bypass’ between Bamber Bridge and Broughton, now part of the M6, was opened by the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, on 5 December 1958, see Figure 25. The selected route was symptomatic of the need to bypass major towns, which had been established long before the advent of the internal combustion engine and were now suffering from traffic congestion. Towns like Preston were suffering from traffic congestion and needed the motorways to carry traffic around them.
Figure 25 The opening of the M6 Preston bypass (Lancashire County Council archive)
Railways have also been important in Preston’s development. Although several of the railways linking Preston with neighbouring towns have disappeared, leaving only the bridges which carried them across the river, Preston continues to be a major station on the main west coast railway line.
Appendix Four – The Romans in Preston
Although there is no evidence of a Roman fort in Preston itself, a Roman military supply depot was sited at Walton le Dale, see Figure 26. The supply base was developed on the north bank of the River Darwen and south of the River Ribble just to the east of the confluence of the two streams. Both of these watercourses were forded a little way upstream of the point where they merged. The settlement had no defensive ditches or banks but was excellently protected by the two rivers, which almost completely enclosed the site, leaving it open to attack only from the east. No buildings remain but their location was a little to the south west of Walton Bridge, where the shape of the rectangular enclosure shows as raised ridges along the river bank.
Figure 26 Map showing the location of Roman remains in the Walton Bridge area (Chiti, 2004)
Evidence suggests that Walton-le-Dale was the scene of substantial industrial development, with many of its workshops producing military equipment. Production continued here until many of the industrial portions of the village were given over to warehouses and granaries, and the emphasis shifted from production of military hardware to the storage of materials and foodstuffs.
Figure 27 shows the pattern of roads in the area in Roman times. The road leading north towards Calunium (Lancaster) crossed with another military road running east-west between the forts at Bremetennacum (Ribchester) and Kirkham on the north bank of the Ribble. Walton-le-Dale lies on the course of the route from Glannoventa (Ravenglass, Cumberland) to Mediolanum (Whitchurch, Shropshire). This road links the Roman settlement at Coccium (Wigan, Lancashire) to the fort at Bremetennacum (Ribchester, Lancashire), and must have passed through the Romano-British industrial town at Walton-le-Dale.
Figure 27 Map of the routes of Roman roads in Lancashire showing the probable crossing point at Walton le Dale. (Lancashire County Council website)
Appendix Five – Preston during the 17th and early 18th Centuries
The site of Walton Bridge has played an important part in history. The Bridge Inn has a sign showing the ‘Battle of Preston Bridge’, which took place in August 1648 at this site, when the New Model Army led by Oliver Cromwell gained an important victory over the Royalists. Another battle of Preston in 1715 took place during the attempt by the Jacobites to depose King George I and restore the Stuarts to power.
The park was established in 1697 when Preston became the popular and fashionable resort of Lancashire’s ‘polite society’, the Lancashire equivalent of Bath. There was a ‘season’ when people came to attend balls and concerts, but most importantly to find suitable marriage partners for their offspring.
The town became well known for its grand houses, elegant streets, coaching inns and Avenham Walk, the 17th Century promenade with its views of the River Ribble, the origin of Avenham Park.
Preston lost its position as a fashionable resort during the following hundred years, when industry became the primary function of the town. At the same time trade with the Americas was expanding and several west coast towns, including Bristol, Liverpool, Preston, Lancaster and Glasgow strove to become the dominant port. Some of Preston’s early prosperity was derived from this trade with West Africa, the West Indies and America. It might have looked something like the painting, see Figure 28.
Figure 28 ‘Preston market in the olden days’ by John Anthony Park
Appendix Six – Preston in the Industrial Revolution and the 19th Century
In 1732 Preston was the birthplace of Richard Arkwright, a wig maker who played a significant role in the industrial development of the north of England, see Figure 29. He invented a water powered spinning machine which, with other inventions, hastened the development of textile mills to replace domestic production of cloth.
Better toll roads and bridges, the Lancaster Canal, numerous railways, gas lighting, of which Preston was a pioneer, and the water and steam powered technology of cotton manufacturers such as the Horrocks family, transformed Preston into a model of 19th Century industrial society. As the town grew rapidly, the gentry quickly abandoned their great houses while a new class of wealthy professionals and entrepreneurs developed areas such as Winckley Square, and then created the suburbs in the 1850s.
Figure 29 Sir Richard Arkwright
Problems of poverty, pollution, unrest and social polarization were central to Preston’s history at this time. Thousands poured into Preston, filling the old quarters with overcrowded yards and alleys. Insufficient water supplies, lack of sewerage and child mortality remained significant problems for 100 years, although this period also saw educational and scientific advancements, public transport, sporting achievements and the rise of teetotalism (the Band of Hope began in Preston).
During the 1860s the American Civil War had a serious effect on the Lancashire cotton industry when the mill workers refused to spin cotton grown by slaves. To keep cotton workers employed, expansion of the park as public works caused Edward Milner, a renowned landscape architect, to produce a master plan for both Avenham and Miller Parks (see Preston’s website).
Figure 30 is a drawing by John Anthony Park, born in Preston in 1880, but who spent much of his career as an artist in St Ives, Cornwall, but who returned to the Ribble valley on numerous occasions. He died, almost penniless, in Preston in 1962. He also painted ‘Preston market in the olden days’, see Figure 28.
Figure 30 A pencil drawing by John Anthony Park of Miller Park in about 1900 showing the railway viaduct