“A Brief History of Preston Astronomy”- Guest Blog Post by Steven Gough-Kelly

Hey! I am Steven Gough – Kelly a BSc Astrophysics student at UCLan. At the end of the last academic year, I was awarded a UCLan Through the Ages Bursary. I have written a guest blog post about my project to hopefully inspire others!

The idea for my project was inspired by a conversation with Associate College Librarian for the College of Science & Technology, Bob Frost at the opening of the Moses Holden Telescope at the UCLan’s Alston Observatory. The UCLan library has a special collections room. Items of interest for my department had been assigned to Bob and he expressed interest in bringing some of these items into the university buildings on display for students to enjoy.uclan through the ages

When the UCLan Through the Ages Bursary became available it was the perfect
opportunity to fund this history project. So I met with Bob and he showed me the special collections. There was a treasure trove of books and items from the universities history. It was incredible to see how observatory’s ran in the 1900’s and to learn how astronomy in Preston developed over the years.

It was enough to spark a passion of wanting to allow others to get an insight into this history, so I applied for the UCLan Through the Ages Bursary. I was working at UCLan over the summer on an internship so also took on the challenge of finishing this project in time for fresher’s.

The project was to create a display of the history of astronomy in Preston with particular reference to UCLan and its predecessors. Within the first few weeks of the project, I had to take the physics hat off and become a historian. I was gloved up handling 70-year-old books, journals and charts all tied to Preston’s historic observatories. Through this research, I learnt about UCLan’s history from when it was first formed as the Harris Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge, from it gaining college and polytechnic status.

Preston originally had an observatory in Deepdale but was closed when it came into disrepair. In 1927 the Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory in Moor park opened and has recently been renovated after being closed for over 10 years. In more recent history the Alston (previously Wilfred Hall) Observatory was opened in Longridge and is still owned and used UCLan for teaching and research.uclan through the ages 1

While exploring the items in the special collections we came across an individual who had made a significant impact to Preston astronomy. His name was George James Gibbs (GJG). He was a civil engineer who invented the Helio-chronometer, the most accurate timekeeper of its day. In 1910 he became the Honorary Curator of the Deepdale observatory and as a result became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He supported both observatories in observations maintenance and record keeping until his death in 1947. He also gave many public lectures on optics and astronomy. Because of his contribution, I decided to dedicate some of my project and resources to his work.

After the initial research, I identified documents and items I wanted to include in the display. We spent a number of days carefully scanning books a high resolution so they can be included in the UCLan digital archives. These images were then used in two free-standing displays printed by the UCLan Print team. One had a timeline of “A Brief History of Preston Astronomy” dating back to 1828 to 2016. The other had a dedication to GJG displaying his work and images stored in his journals.

The project was a great success, the displayed were printed in time for fresher’s. They also feature at the UCLan Physics Society hosted SU trip: “Get Into Astronomy” at Alston observatory. Now they have found a home in the Leighton building foyer where hundreds of students a day pass through on their way to lectures. This project also encouraged the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute to publicise its history on its website found at http://www.star.uclan.ac.uk/observatories/history/ .

history of astronomy.jpg
Steven’s bursary project on display in Leighton Building

Because of the UCLan Through the Ages Bursary, I was able to explore the history behind the university as a whole, and how my department has developed beyond its place at UCLan. It has enhanced my research and creative skills. And challenged me to present my work in an engaging work. I also felt that while working on this project I was able to save a small piece of Preston history and ensure it survives for future generations of UCLan students to discover and enjoy.

As recognition for the effort put in by Steven and the success of his bursary in sharing this piece of history with students, he was nominated by UCLan Through the Ages team for a UCLan SU Highly Commended ABCD (Above and Beyond Call of Duty) Award. This award recognises the work of student volunteers, so a big well done and thank you from us!


Art of Protest Workshop- People’s History Museum

We teamed up with the UCLan SU History Society and UCLan SU Feminists for a trip to the People’s History Museum in Manchester on 15th March 2017, where students took part in a tour and workshop on the subject of protest art.

We kicked the session off with a tour around the museum led by Mitch, the artist leading our workshop, to learn about the history of protest art that would inspire our session later that afternoon.

Tour around the People’s History Museum
Historical banner from the Preston Typographical Association

The museum houses a large collection of historical trade union and political banners in all shapes and sizes. In fact, it is one of the largest collections of these types of banners in the world. They were used for many worthy causes such as protest demonstrations for LGBT rights. They were also used by trade unions, and we even spotted a banner with a Preston connection, which was very exciting!

The museum also houses a conservation studio where staff can preserve and study the museum collection. If you visit the museum (which we recommend that you do!) you can see the textile conservators at work.

After our tour we took part in a workshops session where we could design and make our own protest art. We choose the type of art we wanted to create and chose protest areas that were close to our hearts. Buttons were polular with our group and one student created a brilliant placard.

As you can see our group got really creative- it’s great to see such a variety of ideas!

It was a busy afternoon but worth it as we not only discovered a great deal about the history of protest art but were also able to flex our creative muscles. Thank you to People’s History Museum!

We ended the session with a group photo!

International Women’s Day: Preston Lasses Mun Hev the Vote

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, so to celebrate we will be telling you the story of two remarkable Preston women. One was an artist and suffragette, the other was a child mill worker.

Patti Mayor was born in 1872 in Preston. She studied at Slade School of Fine Art in London. This was one of the most important art schools in Britain at the time.

Mayor, Patti, 1872-1962; Self Portrait
Patti Mayor, Self Portrait

Patti returned to Preston after her studies and is believed to have lived a very cultured lifestyle. During this time she formed a close relationship with a man called Joseph Garstang. He became infamous during World War I for his political views and for being a conscientious objector, which meant he refused participate and fight in the war. Look out for a post about him another day!

Patti and Joseph both took a strong interest in politics, and Patti was especially drawn to suffragism. Women were not able to vote during this period, and Patti, among many others, wanted this to change.

Following art school, Patti worked as an artist and painted numerous portraits of local women. These paintings were unusual for the time as they focused on young women at work and in their normal lives. Women until then had often only  been painted in a distant way, and commonly belonged to the upper classes. The lives of working girls was often left unnoticed.

In 1906 Patti painted her famous painting, The Half-Timer. It depicted a twelve year old girl called Annie Hill, who had just started working in the Horrockses Stanley Street Yard Works in Preston. The title refers to the fact that children split their time between working part-time in the mill and receiving an education. Annie would go to work for half the day and then to school for a few hours. Her work in the mill would have been extremely hard and in later life left her partly deaf.

Mayor, Patti, 1872-1962; The Half-Timer
Patti Mayor, The Half- Timer, 1906

In 1908, Patti removed the picture from its frame and took it to the ‘Women’s Sunday March’ march in London organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union. This organisation demanded the vote for women and often resorted to direct action. She mounted the picture of Annie on a stick and carried it around during the march. It also carried the slogan ‘Preston Lasses Mun Hev the Vote’.

But why did Patti choose to do this? The portrait of Annie was taken as evidence to prove that young girls were still working in the Northern mill industry. In many parts of the country, like the South of England people did not believe this to be true!

During this period, men were given the vote based on their contribution to the economy by working, the same could not be said for women. If it was shown that women worked just as hard to contribute to the economy then it supported their demand for the vote.

The campaign for the vote was halted by World War I and all efforts were focused on the war effort. By 1918, some women were partially given the right to vote and the universal vote for women was not introduced until 1928 in Britain.

Patti died in 1962. She left many unnamed portraits behind. A lot of her works can be found in public art collections. If you want to explore her work further, then head to the Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston, the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool or the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Looking for more information on inspiring Prestonian women? Check out our earlier blog posts and this brilliant one from the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, where Patti also makes an appearance!

Picture credits

Patti Mayor, Self Portrait, Grundy Art Gallery, image via https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/self-portrait-150680/search/actor:mayor-patti-18721962/page/1/view_as/grid

Patti Mayor, The Half-Timer, 1906, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, image via https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/the-half-timer-152266/search/actor:mayor-patti-18721962/page/2

LGBT History Month- Lily Parr

It’s LGBT History Month! Since 2005, it’s been celebrated every February to raise awareness by uncovering and telling the often invisible and suppressed LGBT histories and stories. We will join in the celebrations by introducing some prominent LGBT figures from the North West to you. In our first entry we want to introduce you to Lily Parr, an openly gay football player who played for Preston’s Dick, Kerr Ladies.

Lily Parr

Lilian “Lily” Parr was born in 1905 in St Helen’s, Lancashire and was from a working class background. A fearless and robust child, she showed little interest in traditional girl’s pursuits like cooking or sewing. Instead she played football and rugby. She played for St Helen’s football team in 1919, but her talent was noted soon enough noted by Preston’s Dick, Kerr’s Ladies team. This team mainly consisted of female munitions workers who worked for the factory of Dick, Kerr & Co. They signed Lily for 10 shillings in expenses per game and a job in the factory. It was a very successful football team.



Dick, Kerr Ladies team in 1923

Lily reputedly had a harder shot than any male player. She played in the first recognised international women’s football tournament between England and France in 1920, partly held at Deepdale Stadium. This wave of success soon stopped, as the Football Association banned women from playing on their member grounds. This ban was upheld for over 50 years.

Lily Parr

Lily continued to play for Dick, Kerr Ladies team, who eventually lost the support of their factory and were renamed the Preston Ladies. She totaled over 900 goals during her career from 1919 until 1951. Apart from playing football, Lily trained to be a nurse and worked in the Whittingham Mental Hospital until her retirement. She lived for the rest of her life in Goosnargh near Preston and died in 1978. She lived openly with her partner Mary and became a LGBT rights icon. She was included in the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum in 2002, the first female player ever.

Her achievements were further celebrated when the Lily Parr Exhibition Trophy was held between 2007-09, with LGBT teams from England, France and USA playing.

Lily Parr’s openly gay relationship with Mary was unusual for the time, as lesbianism was frowned upon. Whilst not technically illegal, like male homosexuality, it was surrounded with many taboos.

We will be back soon, celebrating more of the LGBT history of the North West.

Picture credits

Lily Parr, image via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_Parr#/media/File:Lilyparr1.jpg

Dick, Kerr Ladies team in 1923, image via http://www.phillysoccerpage.net/2013/05/08/first-womens-soccer-team-in-philly-1922/

Lily Parr, image via http://spartacus-educational.com/FparrL.htm

Haunted Preston Part 2

We hope you have enjoyed our first part of ghostly stories about Preston. We are back with more spine chilling stories, so read on if you dare…

Haunted Fulwood

An army of Roman soldiers is sometimes seen in Fulwood. A Roman road once ran along present day Watling Street Road, though the original street layout was lost over the centuries. Over the years people claimed to have seen a squad of Roman soldiers marching along the original Roman road. If this is not spooky enough, then consider that because the ground level has risen up over the last thousands of years they are only seen from the waist up!

1892 map of Fulwood

Whilst we dwell in Fulwood we should mention the Fulwood Barracks where there are many reported ghost sightings. The ghost of Private McCaffery is said to haunt the Barracks. He had killed an officer and his adjutant with a single shot from his rifle and was tried and executed for this. The Catholic Irish community in the North West of England was sympathetic to him and he inspired a subversive ballad. To this day he is said to haunt the Barracks.

The Garrison Chapel of St Alban, at the entrance to the Barracks, is said to be inhabited by a friendly, sometimes naughty presence. Cleaning material would move around the place overnight, and a brass pot was sent flying across the chapel.

Fulwood Barracks Garrison Church in 1905

The Old Officers’ Mess is also said to be inhabited by a spirit, and there have been unsettling accounts of a ghostly presence.

Old Officers’ Mess

Haunted Railway Tunnel

Miley Tunnel entrance at Fylde Road

Another haunted place in Preston is the Miley Tunnel, an abandoned railway tunnel which runs from the university area to Deepdale. It was used as a train line for passengers from 1840 until 1920 and used as a freight line until 1980, after which it was closed.
The ghost of a little girl named Margaret Banks is supposed to haunt this tunnel. She grabbed the hand of a passenger at Deepdale station as the train left the station, and she was dragged to her death under the train. There is also the Grey Lady who is said to “welcome” any oncoming visitors walking into the tunnel.

Inside the Miley Tunnel

Haunted Pub 

Do you know that the Wellington Inn at Glover’s Court is haunted? It is said to be the most haunted pub in Preston. Objects are sent flying through the air and electrical items have a life of their own. One landlord left after his bed shook.

Wellington Inn

Fairy Funeral

Did you also know that there a fairy funeral was sighted in Preston? It is said that two men, an older and a younger one, walked home by moonlight from a farmhouse at the foot of Castle Hill to Longton, passing through St Mary’s graveyard.

St Mary’s Church in Penwortham with graveyard

They heard the clock strike midnight and walked to the Lodge, where they heard a passing bell. They noticed that the gate of the lodge swung open and that a group of little figures, obviously fairies, stepped out. They carried a coffin and made their way to the graveyard whilst singing a requiem.

Graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Penwortham

This coffin was open and contained a small pale corpse. On closer inspection it turned out that this corpse looked like the younger man, which caused him to ask the fairies how long he had to live. The men followed the fairies to the graveyard, and the young unsettled man tried to reach out to the fairies, who disappeared. The scene he had witnessed drove him mad and he died a month later after falling from a haystack. He was buried in the same graveyard where the mysterious scene had taken place.

As you can see Preston’s history is full of supernatural and spooky stories. We hope you enjoyed our little trip into the twilight of these mysterious stories. Sleep well…

Picture credits

Old Officers’ Mess, image via http://www.lancashireinfantrymuseum.org.uk/the-ghosts-of-fulwood-barracks/

1892 map of Fulwood, image via http://www.lancashireinfantrymuseum.org.uk/the-ghosts-of-fulwood-barracks/

Fulwood Barracks Garrison Church in 1905, image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/rpsmithbarney/5147314568

Miley Tunnel entrance at Fylde Road, image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/boo66/6100422751

Inside the Miley Tunnel, image via http://www.flickriver.com/photos/phill_dvsn/sets/72157610400076493/

Wellington Inn, image via https://whatpub.com/pubs/LAW/5290/continental-preston

St Mary’s Church in Penwortham with graveyard, image via https://lornasmithers.wordpress.com/tag/castle-hill/page/2/

Graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Penwortham, image via https://lornasmithers.wordpress.com/tag/goblin-tales-of-lancashire/


Haunted Preston- Part One

Did you know that there are many spooky stories about Preston?

Uncover those creepy stories with us if you dare… Here is the first part, the second will follow soon.

Bannister Doll

Have you heard of the Bannister Doll? If not, then don’t be surprised- many locals refuse to talk about it as it might attract the unwanted attention of the ghost. According to legend, a man named Major Bannister lived in a building at Snow Hill, near Walker Street. He had a daughter, Dorothy, known locally as Bannister Doll. She was attractive and had many suitors.

One day she admitted to her father that she was pregnant, which enraged him so much that he dragged her out of the house and whipped her to death for besmirching her family’s honour. A stone was later placed at the corner of Ladywell Street and Heatley Street to mark the spot where Dorothy was murdered. Mothers would take their daughters to this spot to warn them of the consequences of promiscuousness.

After Dorothy was laid to rest the murders began to happen… Not long after her death the corpse of a young man was found in the centre of Preston. His rib cage and skull had been crushed to a pulp. Only two weeks later another young man was found in a similar way, and then a third. Soon word spread that the Bannister Doll had returned from the grave and was taking revenge on all men for the way her father had killed her.

The deaths stopped, but the sightings of Dorothy did not. Many locals claimed that they saw the spirit of Dorothy floating up Snow Hill, and it terrified those who saw it. She also haunted the house of her family, and many families fled the house in terror.

Newspaper article about Bannister Doll

She is still said to be seen and it is said to be an unnerving sighting. This is understandable, as according to some reports she showed herself as a headless lady! According to legend, she can also transform herself into a large black dog and other animals. She is also said to make strange noises, like the rattling of chains.

Samlesbury Hall

Samlesbury Hall

Samlesbury Hall is said to be haunted by a few spirits. A white lady is said to wait at the bus stop outside the hall. Many bus drivers have seen a ghostly white lady at the bus stop or in the nearby fields. She is said to be the restless spirit of Dorothy Southworth, who fell in love with the wrong man. They were forbidden to marry as her family was Catholic, and the young man Protestant. They planned to elope and marry in secret, but they were found out. On the night of their planned escape Dorothy’s brothers killed her sweetheart. She was sent away to a convent where she died but her restless spirit returned to Samlesbury Hall.


Priest Room at Samlesbury Hall

But the spookiness doesn’t stop there… A wood floor inside the hall bears the marks of a priest’s blood. His spirit is said to haunt the ancient halls. He was found in hiding in the building and beheaded on the spot, which caused the blood stain. This stain was permanent, and no matter how often attempts were made to clean it, it would just come again. Even after the old floorboards were replaced, the stain kept reappearing.

Check out our next spooky stories blog post!



Picture credits

Newspaper clipping about Bannister doll, image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/rpsmithbarney/8434442994

Samlesbury Hall, image via http://www.blogpreston.co.uk/2014/09/haunted-lancashire-two-preston-buildings-named-as-paranormal-hotspots/

Priest Room at Samlesbury Hall, image via http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4545136


Taste of Lancashire

On 14 January from 5pm till 8pm we had our free ‘Taste of Lancashire’ event in the Atrium of the Student’s Union as part of the Refreshers programme!

Lancashire Hotpot

This ‘Give it a Go’ session aimed to introduce some of Lancashire’s food heritage to our students. We offered up a traditional Lancashire hotpot with lamb and a veggie option cooked by Source Bar and Kitchen, Preston’s very own butter pies, local bread and for dessert Chorley and Eccles cakes. Students washed down all of this delicious food with plenty of Vimto juice!

Butter Pies

As you can see it was very popular! Students enjoyed sampling some new foods that were all locally sourced and learning about the interesting history of food in Lancashire.

What is your favourite local food? Let us know!