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WIGAN is an ancient town, situated near the little river Douglas, on the banks of which the Saxons were defeated by King Arthur. It is noted for its manufacture of cotton goods, and its large brass and pewter works. The vicinity also abounds with cannel coal. Wigan has two churches, of which All-Saints is old, and contains tombs of the Bradshaigh family, ancestors of the Earl of Crawford
and Balcarres. It has also a town-hall, several dissenting chapels and meeting houses, free blue coat and national schools, and various literary and charitable institutions. There is a monumental pillar here in honour of Sir T. Tyldesley, who was killed at the battle of Wigan Lane, in 1651, when the Royalists ander the Earl of Derby were routed by Colonel Lilburne. Wigan was visited by the Pretender in 1745. In the vicinity is a sulphurous spring, with a neat building for the accommodation of visitors. Two M.P. Pop. 1851, 31,941.*
PRESTON is a town of great antiquity, on the north bank of the Ribble. There were formerly two monastic institutions in Preston, one called the Hospital of St Mary Magdalene, the other a monastery of Greyfriars The last was occupied as a prison until about fifty years ago, and traces of it yet remain. During the civil wars Preston was first occupied by the Royal party, but was quickly taken by the Parliamentary forces, and the mayor killed in the assault. It was afterwards retaken by the Earl of Derby, who demolished the defences. At Ribbleton Moor, near Preston, the Duke of Hamilton was defeated, in 1648, by Cromwell; and, in 1715, the friends of the Pretender were routed by Generals Willes and Carpenter at the same spot. Preston contains five churches and one chapel, belonging to the Established Church, and numerous chapels belonging to dissenting bodies. It has also a guild-hall, a town-hall, a corn exchange, a cloth and a market-hall, assembly rooms, a theatre, &c. What are called the “Guilds” of Preston are held every twenty years, when the trades meet with banners and music, form a procession, and hold a jubilee at considerable cost to the town. Preston is well provided with schools of all descriptions. About 10,000 Sunday scholars are gratuitously educated. Preston is a port-vessels of 150 tons ascending nearly to the town, and the customs duties amounted in 1850 to L. 76,295:8:6. Sir Richard Arkwright was born at Preston in 1732; and here, in 1768, he commenced, in connection with a mechanic named John Kay, some of his improvements in the cotton-spinning mechanism. The chief manufacture is cotton, but there is also a good deal of flax-spinning executed here. Two M.P. Pop. of borough, 1851, 69,542.
The N. Western Railway connects Preston with all parts of the empire, and a line 20 miles in length, connects it with the mouth of the Wyre, where is situated the new watering-place of Fleetwood, with an excellent hotel, erected by Sir P H. Fleetwood, Bart. As a bathing-place it possesses very superior attractions. Pop. 1851, 3048. From Preston a canal leads to Kendal, through Lancaster.
LANCASTER is situated on the Lune, at some distance from its entrance inte the sea. The principal object is the castle, a strong fortress, erected in the reign of Edward III. by John of Gaunt. It stands upon the summit of a hill, and forms a very striking feature in the general view of the town. It is now converted into the county gaol. The county courts now attached to this venerable building
* Some interesting traditions regarding Wigan are recorded by Mr Roby in his " Traditions of Lancashire.” A small volume on similar subjects by a young author of great promise has Also been recently published at Wigan. See also Introduction to Scott's “Betrothed," pp. 8-10.