Winckley Square is having a £1.2m restoration in Autumn 2016. It will feature new pathways and a general smartening up, including reducing the number of trees. Historical markers will be positioned to point out the heritage features of the square. It is also being called Winckley Square Gardens. The square was re-opened on 30th November 2016
The Italian Villa once on the corner of Cross Street
The Literary and Philosophical Society once on the corner of Cross Street
Both of the above drawn by the author.
Photo: Winckley Square
Just south of the main shopping street, Fishergate, is an area built around 1800 to house mill owners and other notaries. Turning from Fishergate into Winckley Street is a good start as this street has some old style and some nice cafes.
Photo: Winckley Street.
At the end of Winckley Street is Winckley Square which is a grass and tree filled sunken undulating area about 150metres square. To the left is a house containing a blue plaque as the former residence of Thomas Miller mill owner. On the right along Chapel Street are houses containing blue plaques for Edith Rigby, suffragette, and the former Catholic College buildings. Some of the buildings on the square were demolished, such as Preston Grammar School, and replaced by modern office buildings constructed in sympathetic brick finish. Winckley Square has been the location of many of Preston's solicitors, architects and professional services.
Walking on the right of the square brings you to the entrance to Avenham Park and Miller Parks. These were built to create work for the mill workers during the cotton famine during the American Civil War. Miller Park being donated by Thomas Miller mill owner and being an ornate park.
Photo: The house of Edith Rigby, suffragette.
Photo: Olive Press Restaurant, Winckley Square.
Instead of going into the park walk along Ribblesdale Place, a pleasing terraced road with some nice mid 19th Century houses. At the end on the left is the former Harris Institute which was the college donated to Preston by the same person who donated funds for the Harris Library, Art Gallery and Museum and the Harris Orphanage. It is a classic style building overlooking Avenham Walk. This is a promenade with an avenue of trees and overlooks Avenham Park and the River. At the end is an Italian style white house with good views of the river from the terrace below it.
Outside the gates of Avenham Park is the home of the Rev Harris father of the benefactor Edmund Harris. Read more on our History Page
Blue Plaque for the Rev Harris
Bust of the Rev Harris in the Harris Museum
A diversion to further along could be to see the former Gold Thread Works, left in Avenham Road, where the work shown in the Harris Museum 'Discover Preston' display was done.
You could then walk into Avenham Park looking at the Tram Bridge which was the link between the Lancaster Canal and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal with horse drawn goods on a tram track. There was a stationary steam engine to haul the trucks up the steep side of the river valley at this point. A walk to Lower Penwortham or Lostock Hall is possible along the Tram Road which starts with an avenue of trees and has a rough surface.
Avenham Park has a new pavilion just before the railway bridge which contains art and a cafe. Worth visiting. It also has a Japanese Garden which used to be very good but looks like it's in work in September 2012. Above the Japanese Garden is the Boer War Memorial that was in the centre until the main Cenotaph was built. Avenham Park is a natural ampitheatre looking down towards the river giving it character.
The old railway bridge was the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway line to Blackburn and beyond. It has steps to the top and you can walk across it. It is threatened with demolition, which would be a pity.
On the other side of the bridge is Miller Park. This is an ornate park overlooked by a dramatic Edwardian building that was a hotel and a nasty cube building built in the 1960s. A statue of Lord Stanley overlooks the park on the top walk. To the right of the statue is a well styled railway bridge under which returns you into Avenham Park. Alternatively there is an exit at the other end of the top walk that brings you into West Cliff that also has some good houses and brings you back to Fishergate.
The river forms the southern boundary of both parks and of Preston. Continuing out of Miller Park along the river under the North Union bridge, which carries the West Coast Main Line, there is the Continental Pub which has music and arty shows. There is also a striking Hindu Temple.
From the park you can return to Chapel Street and Winckley Square. Turning into Garden Street brings you directly to the railway station. On the right in Mount Street is Mount Street Hospital, an attractive building now closed and unfortunately decaying.
This is an interesting part of Preston the former location of the towns notables before they moved upwind of the factory smoke to Penwortham and Fulwood.