Preston was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, becoming a densely populated engineering centre, with large industrial plants.

When assessed for tax purposes in 1218 – 19 it was the wealthiest town in the whole county.

The right to hold a Guild Merchant was conferred by King Henry II upon the Burgesses of Preston in a charter of 1179; the associated Preston Guild is a civic celebration held every 20 years and 2012 was the latest Guild year.

The 2012 Guild formally opened on 2 September with a mayoral proclamation and the return of "friendship scrolls" that had travelled the world.

Highlights in the programme for the 2012 celebration included two concerts in Avenham Park - one by Human League and another, a "Proms In The Park", featuring José Carreras, Katherine Jenkins and the Manchester Camerata.

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The expression '(Once) every Preston Guild', meaning 'very infrequently', has passed into fairly common use, especially in Lancashire.

Guild week is always started by the opening of the Guild Court, which since the 16th century has traditionally been on the first Monday after the feast of the Beheading of St.

Flemish weavers who settled in the area in the 14th century helped develop the industry.