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Preston is the administrative centre of Lancashire, England, located on the north bank of the River Ribble. It is an urban settlement and unparished area that, when combined with its surrounding suburban and rural hinterland, forms part of the City of Preston local government district of Lancashire, which obtained city status in 2002, becoming England's 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.
The settlement, or unparished area, of Preston has a population of 114,300, and the whole City of Preston district has a population of 132,000. Preston and its surroundings have provided evidence of ancient Roman activity in the area, largely in the form of a Roman road which led to a camp at Walton-le-Dale. The Saxons established Preston; the name Preston is derived from Old English words meaning "Priest settlement" and in the Domesday Book appears as "Prestune". During the Middle Ages, Preston formed a parish and township in the hundred of Amounderness and was granted a Guild Merchant charter in 1179, giving it the status of a market town.
Textiles have been produced in Preston since the middle of the 13th century, when locally produced wool was woven in people's houses. Flemish weavers who settled in the area during the 14th century helped to develop the industry. Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning frame, was a weaver born in Preston. The most rapid period of growth and development in Preston's history coincided with the industrialisation and expansion of textile manufacturing.
Preston was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, becoming a densely populated engineering centre, with large industrial plants. In the early 18th century Edmund Calamy wrote that Preston was "a pretty town with an abundance of gentry in it, commonly called Proud Preston". Preston's textile sector fell into a terminal decline from the mid-20th century. Preston has subsequently faced similar challenges to other post-industrial northern towns, including deindustrialisation, economic deprivation and housing issues. Preston is the seat of Lancashire County Council, and Preston North End F.C., one of the oldest football clubs, now houses the National Football Museum which is set to be moved to Manchester.