Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff- A “Preston Legend”

Following our previous blog posts you might know that three “Preston legends” have given their name to new meeting rooms in the UCLan Student’s Union building. The winners were Edith Rigby, Nick Park and Freddie Flintoff. You may have hear of them but do you know what they have achieved and why they were chosen?

We have introduced Edith and Nick, and now it’s time to introduce our last winner, Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff.

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff was born on 6th December 1977 in Preston. Freddie was a pupil at Greenland County Primary School and Ribbleton High School, now called City of Preston High. His nickname Freddie or Fred comes from the perceived similarity between his surname and that of Fred Flintstone.

Freddie after training at Adelaide Oval

Freddie’s father was obsessed with cricket, which might explain Freddie’s success. Freddie began playing when very young and was signed to the Lancashire under-11 at age nine. He made his first cricket debut for Lancashire in 1995, and in 1998 earned his international honours during a Test Match vs South Africa. His career peak was being named the PCA Player of the Year in 2005 due to his performance.

Flintoff has played as captain and vice-captain of the England cricket team. Despite retiring at age 31 in 2009, he came out of retirement to play for Lancashire and Brisbane Heat from 2014-2015. After a poor season for the latter he announced his final retirement and has taken up professional boxing, where he competes as a heavyweight and has had 1 win so far!

Freddie Flintoff

Since then, he has been busy, as is the ambassador for multiple brands, such as Jacomo and Morrisons supermarkets. Freddie has also embarked on a successful presenting career and features on a number of shows, including Sky One’s A League of Their Own. In 2015, he won the Australian series of “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”. Freddie also currently holds 14 Guinness World Records in aid of Sport Relief. These include the fastest time zorbing 100 metres, furthest distance from which to score a bullseye and popping the most party poppers in a minute!

Freddie was made an honorary Freeman of the city of Preston, like Nick Park. This honour has no real privileges nowadays but it is awarded to women and men of note who have a connection to the city. Freemen are allowed to walk ahead of councillors in processions, such as Remembrance Sunday and supposedly the right to receive a free beer in any bar or pub in Preston! In 2006, he was awarded an M.B.E. by the Queen for services to cricket after his successful role during the Ashes.

Picture credits

Freddie Flintoff, image via

Freddie Flintoff after training at Adelaide Oval, image via


A Lancashire Christmas

Across Lancashire there are many traditional Christmas customs. Some are still celebrated, while some have fallen out of use. Join us as we explore the weird and the wonderful Lancashire Christmas customs!

We will start with some of the more unusual Christmas traditions! On Christmas Eve in Lancashire, it was believed by some that cows fell to their knees in worship, and the bees hummed the Hundreth Psalm. This psalm went as follows:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Another very peculiar custom surrounded the Lancashire “Old Ball”.  At Christmas an old horse’s head was carried around at Christmas on a stick, and this “Old Ball” would bite everyone it could get hold of. It would hold its victim until its release was bought for a few pence. A clever way of collecting some extra money!

Children performing carols

These customs might seem exotic to us, but other customs are more familiar to us. Whilst hand bell ringing might has fallen out of favour, the singing of carols was as popular then as it is now with many dating back centuries!

Mince pies were equally popular. The dried fruits mixed with Eastern spices represented the offerings of the three wise men to Jesus. The shape of mince pies has changed, as mince pies used to be long and slender, and not round as they are nowadays. The earlier form represented the shape of the manger in which the baby Jesus lay.

The end of the Christmas celebrations was celebrated on the Three Kings Day on the 6th January, also known as the Feast of Epiphany or Little Christmas. It was a day of rest for women after all the hard work they had invested into cooking, cleaning and entertaining!

Christmas punch is also not a new invention, a fruit punch named Wassail was a popular Christmas tradition. This mixture of alcohol, fruits and spices was drunk at Christmas time, and a slice of bread soaked in this punch would be placed in the branches of a Christmas Tree.

Wassail was popular across the whole North of England and a game was played that centered on the “Vessel Cup” or “Wassail Cup”. It was usually played on 17th January.

“Wassailing” Children

The game changed from place to place, but the basic approach usually included children, often two girls, called the “vessel maids”. Wassailers carried a box which was decorated with a white cloth, evergreens, fruit and spices, from home to home of wealthy residents. Carols were sang and after receiving money the sheet was lifted to reveal a scene of the Holy Family. This custom is though to have had a pagan origin.

“Vessel Maids”

More recent Lancashire traditions include Christmas decorations, for example, the seaside resort of Blackpool and its famous Christmas illuminations! The town was first lit by electric lights in 1879, however it was not until 1912 that the town became known for it light displays. By the early 1930s, the lights in Blackpool had become a tourist attraction and the big switch on regularly attracted celebrity names. The illuminations are still popular today and draw in large crowds who are brave enough to face the infamous Blackpool weather!

Blackpool Illuminations 4th September 1956


Finally, a fizzy pop company based in Preston called Whittaker’s of Preston, Lancashire employed a delivery driver called Father Christopher Moss. Father Moss was a semi-retired priest who was often depicted in their Christmas promotional campaigns as Father Christmas and dressed in a brown tunic that represented the colour of the companies fizzy pop.

Father Moss would make deliveries throughout Preston and often drove throughout the night to make sure the people of Preston had their Christmas supply of pop!

We hope you enjoyed delving into the world of traditional Christmas customs in Lancashire. Wherever you are and whatever customs you are celebrating this year: have a Merry Christmas!

E. Smith, Wycoller Hall, Lancashire, Christmas 1650

Picture credits

Smith after H. Melville, Wycoller Hall, Lancashire, Christmas 1650, published inLancashire Illustrated, 1831, image via

“Vessel Maids”, image via

“Wassailing” children, image via

Children performing carols, image via

Blackpool Illuminations, image via

Whittakers Christmas, image via

#LoveSUs Day- A Short History of UCLan Students’ Union!

In 2008 the Union decided that ‘making life better for students’ should be its mission statement. But how did it get there? Find out in this blog post as we celebrate #LoveSUs Day!

UCLan Students’ Union began life as the as Harris Students’ Association in 1957, and was renamed the Harris Students’ Union in 1961. Another change of name was in 1973, when it was renamed as the Preston Polytechnic Students’ Union.

The Students’ Union originally resided in the Foster Building. However, a committee for the Academic Board recommended in 1970 that the Union needed a purpose built building, as the accommodations at Foster were too cramped.

Fylde Road in 1957 before the Students’ Union Building was started

Planning for such a building were approved in 1975. It took another two years to finish the Students’ Union Building at Fylde Road. Improvements were then made in the 1990s and in 2005.

UCLan’s Student Union Building in the 1990s
53 Degrees by night

In 2005 work on another building on Brook Street began, a venue for concerts and club nights called 53 Degrees. Over the years it attracted big names to the stage, such as Ellie Goulding, Johnny Marr, Orbital, The Vaccines and The Streets to name but a few.

Over the years the Students’ Union has helped to support the needs of many students. In 1979, the Students’ Union campaigned for better nursery provisions and threatened the then Polytechnic with a boycott and strike following student issues over lack of and poor quality accommodation and rent prices.

The Students’ Union actively fought for improved gender equality and equal opportunities within the Polytechnic. In 1987, the Students’s Union President at the time voiced her anger during a meeting of the Equal Opportunities Committee where she was the only female involved during a recruitment process for two new members of the academic board. In a report to the executive meeting at the Students’ Union she said:

“I do not look forward to the prospect of an all male Directorate, it can only serve to hint at hypocrisy within this institution”

The issues over gender continued until the start of the 90s when significant advances were made to improve equality, including the introduction of a Women’s Officer in 1991.

In 1986 the Students’ Union supported a group of special needs students, whose aim it was to convince the Academic Board to accept students with special needs from all disabilities. This was successful, and the main outcomes were that a Special Needs Advisor was appointed and budgets for special equipment was allocated.

Today, UCLan Students’ Union still campaigns for many issues such as rising tuition fees, refugees and gender neutral toilets. It continues to strive to make life for students better. For example, the Stressed Out Students’ (S.O.S) Campaign in 2015 that led to the introduction of a temporary ‘Puppy Room’ to help students to cope with the pressures of exams and essays!

UCLan’s Students’ Union at Fylde Road



 Picture credits

Rex Pope and Ken Phillips, University of Central Lancashire: A History of the Development of the Institution since 1828 (University of Central Lancashire, 1995).

53 Degrees by night, image via

Fylde Road in 1957 before the Students’ Union Building was started, image via Harris Museum & Art Gallery.

Students’ Union Building on Fylde Road, image via

UCLan’s Student Union Building in the 1990s, image via Harris Museum & Art Gallery.








Nick Park- A “Preston Legend”

We have mentioned before that three “Preston legends” have given their name to new meeting rooms in the UCLan Student’s Union building. Edith Rigby, Nick Park and Freddie Flintoff were the winners.We will introduce each winner in a series of blog posts.

Following Edith Rigby is Nick Park, the creator of Wallace & Gromit. His films have won him fame and fans all over the world- but did you know that the clay creations Wallace & Gromit are created by a Prestonian?

Nick Park

Nick Park, the creator of beloved Wallace and Gromit, was born in Preston in 1958. His father worked as a photographer who worked for the company that designed the infamous Preston Bus Station. He grew up in Walmer Bridge near Preston and attended St Oswald’s Primary School and Cuthbert Mayne High School (now Our Lady’s Catholic High School).

Even as a child Nick showed a creative side, as he loved drawing, especially comics. In addition, he developed an interest in film-making, and he started to make films with his mother’s home movie camera. This passion continued, as Nick went on to study animation at the National Film and Television School in Buckinghamshire.

It was during this time that Nick developed two characters for his stop-motion films, a bald middle aged inventor and his far more intelligent dog. Both are of course nowadays known to the world as Wallace & Gromit. Wallace was inspired by a real dog Nick encountered on a bus in Preston. Gromit’s name was inspired by grommets, which are rings used for reinforcing holes, which Nick’s brother, an electrician, told him about. Nick’s graduation film was A Grand Day Out, but creating an animation in stop-motion proved to be time consuming, so the film was not finished when his film course finished.

Nick was also busy working for Aardman Studios, which used stop-motion animation. Their most famous creation was Morph, and Nick soon found himself working full time for the studio. The work of the studio was diverse, ranging from short films for television, music videos and commercials.

Work on A Grand Day Out continued during this time. Another short film, Creature Comforts, was also in the work. Both were nominated for an Oscar, with Creature Comforts winning the golden statue. This was not the last time Nick’s films would be nominated and win an Academy Award. Over the past decades his films have been nominated six times, and he has won four times.

Nick Park with one of his Oscars

He was made an honorary Freeman of the City of Preston in 1997. This honour is one of the highest a city council can award, and only 22 people were presented with it during the 20th century.

A statue of Wallace & Gromit was planned in 2007, but nothing came of it. However, Nick is happy to have a room named after him at UCLan Students’ Union and has sent us a quote!

“It is really lovely that the students have chosen for there to be a ’Nick Park’ room at UCLan. It’s not every day that you have a room named after you, and it’s a great honour. Thank you. I hope that there are lots of inspirational and creative meetings in the ’Nick Park’ room.”

Picture credits

Nick Park, image courtesy of Gary Lee via

Nick Park with one of his Oscars, image courtesy of BBC News via

EVENT: Life, Work and Study in Preston during the First World War Exbition

Ever wondered what University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) was like during the First World War?

This Saturday in the library at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Dr. Keith Vernon from UCLan Humanities and Social Sciences (and UCLan Through the Ages partner!) will be exhibiting his current work that looks at life, work and study at the Harris Institute during the war.

Excited to learn more about the just one part of UCLan’s diverse and interesting history! Look out for more events in the future that are linked with this project!




Edith Rigby- A”Preston Legend”

Following our previous blog post you may know that three “Preston legends” have given their name to new meeting rooms in the UCLan Students’ Union building. The winners were Edith Rigby, Nick Park and Freddie Flintoff.

You might have heard of them but do you know what have they done for us and why they have been chosen?

In a series of blog posts we will introduce the “Preston legends”, and this week we will begin with Edith Rigby.

Edith Rigby

Edith Rigby was a famous suffragette from Preston. She was born as Edith Rayner on 18th October 1872 in Preston, Lancashire, at 1 Pole Street, near where Preston’s infamous Bus Station is built. She married Dr Charles Rigby and moved to an elegant house at 28 Winckley Square. She was interested in many social issues of the day, and tried to improve the working conditions of many women who worked in the many thriving factories in and around Preston.

However, she is best known for being a suffragette. Women did not have the right to vote at the beginning of the twentieth century, which many women (and men) believed to be unfair and many organisations were formed in this period to support their cause. The term “suffragette” came into to use to describe people who used organised protest to demand the vote for women. One of these organisations was the Preston branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which was founded by Edith in 1907. She worked tirelessly to secure the vote for women by holding meetings at her house and asking people to join the WSPU.

Blue Plaque dedicated to Edith at 28 Winckley Square, Preston

Many of the methods used by Edith and her sisters were considered to be militant, but many of these today would be considered harmless, for example interrupting a public meeting where Winston Churchill was speaking for example. She also threw black pudding at a local MP in Manchester in 1913, as a ‘black pudding is more derogatory than tomatoes or eggs’!

Over time the Preston movement became more radical, which might explain why she was blamed for tarring and feathering the statue of Lord Derby in Preston’s Miller Park. The son of Lord Derby had opposed granting the vote for women. As an act of protest some women defaced the statue, while Edith did not commit the act she might have helped to plan it.

Earl of Derby statue at Miller Park

However, some of the acts carried out would be considered extreme even today, for example Edith burned down the bungalow of Lord Leverhulme in 1913, though nobody was hurt. She saw this as a valid form of protest. These acts shows how desperate some suffragettes were to fight for their cause and to secure the vote for women.

Many suffragettes were arrested and imprisoned for their activism, Edith included. She was imprisoned in 1907 for four weeks, one of seven times spent in prison in total. The treatment they received was brutal.

Many suffragettes chose to go on hunger strike during their imprisonment. This was an act of protest to not being held as political prisoners, even though what they had done was with a political reason. The police force fed the suffragettes on hunger strike, which was brutal and damaging to the health of many women. This caused outrage and embarrassed the government.

The government felt it had to do something to end this. To break the will of the suffragettes they introduced the “Cat and Mouse Act”. The name came from the way in which a cat plays with its prey before finishing it. When a suffragette was arrested it was likely that she would go on hunger strike which would weaken her. She would be released in this state, and when she got out she would eat again and get stronger. If she then did another crime then she would be arrested again. And so the circle would start again.

After the outbreak of World War One in 1914, all suffragette activities ceased in order to support the war effort. Edith and her husband moved to a small cottage in Penwortham called Marigold Cottage where she did her best to support the war. She joined the Land Army and started to grow food on her land. Using her produce she gave help when there were food shortages and sold produce on the Preston Market. She was also influenced in new agricultural methods, like those developed by Rudolph Steiner.

Marigold Cottage in Penwortham, where Edith Rigby lived during the First World War

Edith pursued a wide range of interest in her later life, which ranged from stone circles to translating works from German to English. She died near Llandudno in Wales in 1948.

Edith (second from left) on LLandudno Pier

After the war, advancements were made for the women’s cause. By 1918, women over thirty who owned land were granted the right to vote and this was extended in 1928 to full suffrage and all women over the age of 21 were able to vote in their first election, often referred to as the ‘flapper election’.

It is fair to say that Edith was a remarkable and unusual woman. It is thanks to women like her that women have the right to vote today. This was achieved with a struggle, and many suffragettes paid a high price for their commitment. It is important to know their stories, as they can continue to inspire us and we hope this determination will be reflected in her meeting room at UCLan Students’ Union.

Picture credits

Edith Rigby, image courtesy of Lancashire Archives via

Blue Plaque at 28 Winckley Square, image courtesy of Tony Worrall via

Earl of Derby Statue at Miller Park, Preston, image courtesy of Preston Digital Archive via

Marigold Cottage in Penwortham, image courtesy of Heather Crook via

Edith Rigby on Llandudno Pier, image courtesy of Paul Swarbrick via

New Meeting Rooms!


Over the summer break the UCLan Students’ Union building has undergone a number of changes with brand new furniture, creative wall signage, and three new modern meeting rooms created on the corridor between the Atrium and St Peter’s Art Centre.

As part of the UCLan Through the Ages project we were tasked with giving these new meeting rooms a historic twist! In May, we asked students to nominate their ‘Preston legends’, who were people from history that had made an impact on Preston or the university.

The campaign received a number of brilliant nominations that were put up on the SU website at the end July for students to vote on. We patiently waited until the excitement of Fresher’s has passed to announce the three winners, who are…

Nick Park, director, writer, and animator best known as the creator of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep!

Nick has sent us a message in response to the result and says: ‘It is really lovely that the students have chosen for there to be a ’Nick Park’ room at UCLan. It’s not every day that you have a room named after you, and it’s a great honour. Thank you. I hope that there are lots of inspirational and creative meetings in the ’Nick Park’ room.’

Edith Rigby, Preston’s most famous suffragette, social activist and the first lady to ride a bicycle in Preston in the early 1900s!

James Arnold, History Curator at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, has noted the significance of Edith’s win and says: “Congratulations on choosing such great names for your meeting rooms. It seems fitting that Edith Rigby triumphed in the midst of such stiff competition. Her quiet determination to look for ways to improve the lives of women and her courage to stand up for what she believed in continues to inspire us today.”

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, presenter, broadcaster and Lancashire cricketing legend!

Unfortunately we were unable to speak to Freddie but we are sure he will be very happy with the result!

In response to the campaign and result, Activities and Participation Officer, Ed Evans says: “It’s great to see that the students’ union has nice new meeting rooms which are colourful and are flexible spaces. Each one is now named after a Preston legend so can’t wait to see what events are planned for the future!”

Work on incorporating the winners into the design of the meeting rooms will begin soon, so keep an eye on the blog to see the new look for the Park Room, Rigby Room and Flintoff Room!