Part 15 - Preston by the river
There has been a bridge here since 1403, but the present one dates from 1782. It was doubled in width during the 2nd World War. The bridge carries the A6, which was the main London to Carlisle road, before completion of the M6.
Just downstream of London Road Bridge, the River Darwen joins the Ribble. This view is taken looking across the Ribble, up the Darwen. Although little is known about it, there was a Roman settlement here, on the banks of the River Darwen.
Just downstream from here the river becomes tidal - although exceptionally high tides can raise the level of the river as far upstream as Brockholes Bridge .
Although never a major port, Preston pioneered roll on roll off ferry transport. Albert Edward Dock opened in 1892 - at that time it was the largest single dock in the country. In 1948 the dock was the first to introduce roll on roll off traffic. By the 1960s the port held the record for the handling the largest amount of container and ferry traffic. Traffic reached a peak in 1968, when 500 dockers were employed and 1,437,000 tons of unit load trade passed through the port (16% of the UK total).
Cotton and wood pulp were the most important cargoes landed here. As the size of ships increased, fewer could use the dock. At the same time, the import of traditional cargoes decreased, and the cost of dredging silt from the channel increased. The early post-war advantage of being the pioneer in roll on roll off operations was lost to competing ports which could offer faster turn round time. In the 90 year history of the port, it only made a profit in 17 years. In 1979 the decision was made to redevelop the site.
Many thanks to Paul Dawson for providing information about the docks. His father was a river pilot, his mother worked for Northern Ireland Ferries and his grandfather, who also worked worked at the port, wrote an autobiography, "Preston Port Revisited."The docks are now home to pleasure craft, and the surrounding waterside areas house a retail park, multiplex cinema, housing, offices and light industrial units. More details of the businesses and leisure facilities are provided by this web site.
As the river is tidal here, lock gates are needed to maintain the level of water in the dock. Here the outer gates are seen from the river side.
This is the view in the opposite direction, from almost the same point as the last photograph.
One and a half miles further downstream, to the north, Savick Brook joins the Ribble. The Ribble Link Trust worked hard for this to be the basis of a new length of canal, to join the Lancaster Canal, north of Preston, to what is now known as the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The link opened in July 2002, but it is not a new idea - nearly 200 years ago there was a tramway link.
This will house approximately 30 locomotives (steam, diesel and electric) formerly in the collection of Steamport, Southport. These will be on display in a purpose built museum, or used to pull trains along the 1.5 miles track of the former docks railway.
River Ribble Part 14
River Ribble Part 16
River Ribble index page. Graham and Lin Dean's home page.