I love nothing more than jumping on the train and visiting somewhere new. I have passed through Preston many times when I have been on the way to other places but not to visit. Last weekend, we resolved this by grabbing a flask of tea and making our way over.
What sparked a day trip to Preston? Well, in good old Urban Wanderer style, I was looking at the map for places nearby to visit. Preston came up again, so I took to Twitter to get some tips on things to see and do. And the tips and advice I received tipped the balance and encouraged us to make the visit happen.
Day trip to Preston
One thing to bear in mind when making your way up to Preston from Manchester, is that there are two services running that way. One, the Transpennine Express to Edinburgh and the other a Northern local service. The former runs hourly, but only takes 38 minutes while the latter more regularly stopping at many stations along the way. We opted for the quicker train, partly because we were at the station at the right time.
The first thing I do when I arrive somewhere new is to follow my curiosity. I spot something on the horizon and off I toddle. Our trip to Preston was no different and our first discovery was the council building which we happened upon while we were walking towards a steeple. Although interesting, we did had a bit of an agenda for this trip. What’s on Preston had suggested that we would like to visit the Museum of the Moon installation at the Harris museum and art gallery. So our plan developed that we would wander until we happened upon the gallery. Off we tootled.
Although I question the political views of Wetherspoons, they do a great job of restoring and maintaining grand old buildings. We came across one of them while we walked because of the plaque on the outside wall.
The Twelve Tellers was a bank from 1776 (with iterations over the years) Inside, you could see plenty of original features and I felt quite pleased that so many buildings have been rescued and are still used. We only stopped in for some photographs, though, before heading off on our merry way again.
Despite having already spotted the Harris Museum, we couldn’t resist checking out the beautiful tiles arcade. I love arcades like these, they remind me of the many in Leeds, which are a joy to look at and spend time in. It was a bit sad to see so many empty units, though.
We decided that it was time to focus and to make sure we visited the one place on the ‘plan’. We rounded the corner and saw the Harris Museum in full glory. It is set in a square which means that you get to see the shape and style of the building clearly. Far more clearly than the Manchester Art Gallery in the narrow area of Mosley Street.
Even though we were told about the moon installation, I hadn’t really had time to look into it.
Museum of the Moon
As we walked into the museum, we anticipated for it to be really busy as there were directional signs for the staircases to keep people flowing. Unusually, it was actually OK. Ascending the stairs you could see the moon begin to appear between the balustrades. Almost like augmented reality with the museum as the background.
As you can see from the picture, it is quite a surreal scene. The moon is so incredibly realistic and the lack of shadow makes it all the more bizarre. It was surprising that there weren’t hoards of people gathering around to see – especially as we discovered that it was the last weekend in Preston.
The Museum of the Moon is an installation created by the artist Luke Jerram. It is made up of images from NASA representing 5 km of the moon’s surface. There are several moons on tour around the world at the moment and I would highly recommend that you see it when it is near you. We were incredibly lucky to have times our trip with the end of the exhibition.
Once every Preston Guild
Before leaving the museum on the hunt for food, we took a walk around the permanent Preston exhibition. It was here that I came to understand the phrase “Once every Preston Guild” which I grew up hearing from all my family. Preston is a Guild town and they hold a celebration once every 20 years. Hence the phrase came about meaning infrequently. I don’t think it means much to anyone outside of the North West, but it is certainly an interesting fact. I think the next Guild parade is 2032!
We also discovered that the term “tee total” is also from Preston. As is the remains of an elk dating from over 10,000 years ago which were discovered beneath a bungalow in Preston in 1970! They are evidence of the first people in the north-west. I do hope I don’t discover anything like this while I’m gardening… Not because of the history, but the excavation to get it up!
Our grumbling tummies were silenced with some fresh chips and curry sauce from the local chippy meant it was time to return to our wandering ways. Spotting the beautifully restored market hall, we headed in to take a look around.
I really do have a thing about markets. We used to have one in the ‘Heath when we first moved here. It was nowhere near this size or structure, but it was a great place for some banter and to buy your food. Ours is long gone now, but I do dream of a day when it could come back.
From the polish of the market place, we wandered through to the bus depot and around the roads towards the university. I love these parts of towns as they tend to have that quirky and slightly untouched feel to them. And paint flaking doors to add to my collection (or photographs)
The final hour
As the time ticked gradually closer to our train home, we wandered nearer to the station, discovering a lovely Georgian park and the building surrounding them. The only evidence that we were still in the student area were the young people chatting at benches.
I always say that serendipity is my guide and as we were meandering our way slowly back to the station, we spotted a disused building between some posh glass fronted restaurants. Following that unstoppable curiosity we made our way into the street to peer through the gates. Smashed windows, slipped tiles and nature taking its toll, a beautifully forgotten building sat still behind the metal gates. We could just make out that it was a former orphanage.
Unfortunately, our discovery came quite late in the day, so we had little time to explore further. But it did give me some fodder for research on the way home. I am sure I have a blog post in this so I will save the rest for another day.
Meanwhile, our train pulled in and we were on our way home. Preston proved to have far more than we could have even imagined. We barely made a dent on the nestled streets and hilly roads. So much so, we are already planning out return trip. Sometime in summer perhaps.
Our train pulled into Piccadilly and Manchester treated us to a beautiful dusty pink sky to bring us back from our day trip to Preston.
This is the year where I explore all of the local towns and cities. It really does go to show that you can have the most wonderful day trips on your doorstep. There is more to discover than you could ever imagine.
Have you been on a day trip to Preston or seen the Museum of the Moon?
What is your favourite thing about visiting nearby towns?
Let me know in the comments