Moor Park, Preston

Moor Park

Shown within City of Preston
Population 5,211 (2011)
DistrictCity of Preston
Ceremonial countyLancashire
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
EU Parliament North West
UK ParliamentPreston
  • David Borrows – Labour
  • John Collins – Labour
List of places

Moor Park is a large park (with a perimeter of approx 2 miles (3.2 km)) to the north of the city centre of Preston, Lancashire, England. Moor Park is also the name of the electoral ward covering the park and the surrounding area. The ward borders the traditional boundary of Fulwood. The population of the ward as at the 2011 census was 5,211.[1]


Moor Park, Preston

Moor Park lies to the north of Preston city centre on the A6 (Garstang Road), which forms the western boundary of the park. Blackpool Road between the A6 and Deepdale Road is the northern boundary. The latter forms the eastern side. Opposite the park on Deepdale Road is the Preston North End F.C.'s Deepdale stadium.

Moor Park is Preston's largest and oldest park. The park was originally a farm and was run by George Dartford from a famous house called the Barn. In her book People's Parks[2] Conway claims that Moor Park was the first municipal park to be created in the newly emerging industrial towns of Britain.

Preston Moor was an area of land to the north on Preston. It was originally common land derived from the Royal Forest of Fulwood by the Charter of Henry III in 1235.

In the 1830s it was felt by the town's council that Preston Moor was in a 'neglected and unprofitable condition'. In 1833 The Preston Chronicle published an article on 'The Intended Inclosure and Improvement of Preston Moor'. It showed a map of the intended enclosure. The plan was drawn up by the Town Steward, the appropriately named Philip Park.

The park was created by enclosing some 100 acres (40 ha) of the moor. A series of walks, and drives for horses and carriages, were created including an avenue of lime trees which was known for many years as 'the Ladies Walk'. This formed the southern boundary of the park. The northern boundary of the park was an avenue named the Serpentine Road because of its sinuous nature. Near the avenue was a body of water which was given the name the Serpentine Lake.

There was little public access to the enclosed area, which appears to have been mainly used for the grazing of animals and the growing of crops. Local brewer Matthew Brown, grazed animals on the park for several years. Long after its use for grazing, this area was known by locals as the 'Bull Field'. In 1862 there was a review of troops as part of the Preston Guild celebrations.

In the mid-1860s the park was landscaped to a design by the landscape architect Edward Milner and was part of a scheme to provide work for those unemployed because of the Lancashire cotton famine. Edward Milner was a former student and assistant of Joseph Paxton, the noted Victorian architect and park designer. The work, costing a total of £10,826,[3] was supervised by George Rowbotham, who later became the town's first Parks' Superintendent.

The work on the park involved the drainage of parts of the ground. New paths were created and shrubs and trees planted. The Serpentine lake was extended and a wooden bridge constructed over it. The supports of the bridge were constructed from Longridge stone. The same material was used to build a bridge in the north-west corner of the park.

The park was opened in October 1867. In the 1870s the park was the venue for the Annual Show of the Preston Agricultural Society. These shows drew large attendances by also some controversy. The refreshments tents were popular, but public drunkenness offended the supporters of Joseph Livesey and his Temperance movement.

In July 1885 the Royal Horticultural Society of England held its annual show on Moor Park with great success. One visitor to the show was the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII.

In June 1887 a Military Review was held to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. 340 men of the Gloucester Regiment and Royal Artillery trooped their colours.

The Serpentine Lake

As part of the 1902 Preston Guild celebrations the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Society held its annual show on the park.

In June 1905 an open-air bath was opened in the park by Councillor W. H. Woods, who had for many years worked to provide additional swimming facilities in the town. The Preston Swimming Club provided an exhibition of swimming and life-saving techniques.

In 1908, Park School opened on Moor Park Avenue. It was one of the pioneer grammar schools for girls.

In 1913, Preston Grammar School moved to the eastern end of the Avenue from its site in Cross Street adjacent to Winckley Square.

Soon after the outbreak of First World War it was decided to build a Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) hospital on the park. The hospital was opened in January 1915. The earliest building was a pavilion provided by the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Society which was intend to house 35 patients. As the war continued new wards were built and more equipment installed. The staff of Horrockses, Crewdson & Co., cotton manufacturers and spinners, raised money to carry out some of this work. Lord Hollins, the chairman of the company, and his wife were patrons of the hospital. In early 1918 Grove House, at the junction of Moor Park Avenue and Garstang Road, became an annex of the hospital. It housed 28 patients.

Articles in the Preston Guardian show hundreds of wounded soldiers being brought to Preston to be treated at the hospital. The matron was Mrs. Howard. Many volunteer nurse worked at the hospital. A record of working in the hospital was kept by Nurse de Trafford in her diary. This account was later published.

Hugh Rain, the cinema owner and film maker, who was known as "Will Onda", lived at 1 Moor Park Avenue. His son, also Hugh, enlisted in the Preston "Pals". He was wounded in action in France and died of his wounds. The hospital was closed in 1919. The buildings were used as an open-air school until a new school was opened in 1937 on the same site.

Open fields in Moor Park

In the early 1920s a shelter and paddling pool were built near the Serpentine.

In the early 1920s Preston Council began construction of on an arterial road to improve transport in the area. This later became known as Blackpool road.

In 1927 an observatory was built on the park to replace a building in Fulwood. It was named the Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory. The first curator was G. J. Gibbs, F.R.G.S.. The observatory is now run by the University of Central Lancashire, although light pollution and vibration from traffic on Blackpool Road means that it is no longer used for scientific research.

In 1932 a pavilion was opened on the park after many years of appeals for such a building to the council. Apart from the facilities for sportsmen it also had a cafe.

In the early 1970s the open-air swimming pool was closed and filled in.

In 1976 the pavilion was destroyed in a fire. It was replaced at a cost of £50,000, but the new building was a more utilitarian structure.

In 1977 Tom Benson broke the world long distance walking record by walking 314.33 miles round Moor Park. A stone recording his achievement can be seen near the Garstang Road entrance to the Avenue.

In 2002 a 'Friends of Moor Park' group was created. The aim of the group is to support the running of the park.

On the weekend of the 19 and 20 May 2007 the 2007 Radio 1's Big Weekend took place at Moor Park. With 3 stages and an estimated 35,000 people attending, it was the biggest free ticketed music festival in Europe.

The park now contains football pitches, cricket creases, bowling greens, tennis courts, basketball courts, a netball court, a bowls pavilion, and a football pavilion.[3]

The Moor Park Business and Enterprise School now occupies the buildings of Preston Grammar School. A campus of Preston College moved into the Park School buildings. The Sir Tom Finney Community High School is located near the Serpentine on Blackpool Road.

In 2009, the park played host to the beginnings of student football fixtures. In 2010, the league has been rejuvenated by UCLan to host the inaugural student league on what is now known as 'The Theatre of Dreams'.

In 2011 Preston College closed the campus in the old Park School building. The building will be demolished and housing built.

With the 2012 Preston Guild being planned, Moor Park will play an important role in the celebrations. Work began in late 2011 to improve the park.

Plans for a new BMX and skateboard area to be created in the north eastern corner of the park have been announced.

In August 2013, Moor Park was designated a Grade II* listed park.[4]

On the Park's far west side, facing Garstang Road a number of central businesses overlook Moor Park. This area of Preston is highly desirable and fashionable. Most of the office buildings are Victorian with open spaces and large car parks. Some businesses include PHC Law Ltd, Lancashire Probabtion Service, Taxbak, and Lancashire St John's Ambulance HQ.

No history of Moor Park would be complete without some record of the men and women who contributed to the creation and maintenance of the park over the past 170 years. Personal interviews and research of council records and newspaper articles has enabled a number to be found. Unfortunately the list will never be complete, but these are the names found so far:

C. Ackroyd; J. Anderton; G. Arkwright; C. Aspden; F. Baker; J. Barnes; D. Bispham; F. Braithwaite; W. Brogden; H. Carr; C. Cross; J. Cunliffe; S. Cunliffe; John Curwen; W. Dawson; G. Fletcher; W. Godbert; R. Guy; W. Hartley; John Jenkinson; J. S. Kay.; K. Lancaster; J. Marshall; R. Mather; J. McCullough; W. Moss; M. Muller; W. Nicholson; J. Redman; J. Scurr; John Singleton; A. Slater; A. Sumner; J. Taylor; A. Walmsley; R. Watkins; A. Wilson.

Electoral ward

Moor Park is currently a two-member electoral ward, which in addition to the neighbouring College and Deepdale wards, forms the Preston Central North division of Lancashire County Council. The English Martyr’s Catholic Church is within the ward.

Current councillors

Preston Council election, 2011 David Borrow Labour Party
Preston Council election, 2010 John Collins Labour Party


At the 2001 census, Moor Park has a population of 4,919, whilst at the most recent election the electorate was 3,053. Of this figure, 68% described themselves as Christian, with a Muslim population of 5.2%. Whilst the area around Fulwood is largely commuter belt and recent retired properties, the Plungington and Deepdale areas are traditional terraces with multi-occupancy homes increasingly common.


The traditional “grid” terraces in the south of the ward are made up of a number of main roads, including the A6 Garstang Road which itself runs from the ward’s northern boundary at Lytham Road, to the outskirts of the city centre. The component of the electoral ward to the south of Moor Park itself crosses the A6 to take in a number of terraces to St Paul’s Road in an easterly direction towards Deepdale. From the main Blackpool Road heading north, the houses are largely semi- and true detached homes in the suburban style.

See also


[2] Open-air-bath for Preston - an interesting ceremony. Preston Guardian. 10 June 1905. p. 13.

[3] New sports pavilion at Moor Park. Preston Guardian. 28 May 1932. p. 6.


  1. "Preston Ward population 2011". Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  2. Conway, H., People's Parks, Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  3. 1 2 "Moor Park". Preston City Council. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  4. Moor Park, Preston, The National Heritage List for England, retrieved 4 October 2013

Coordinates: 53°46′26″N 2°41′53″W / 53.774°N 2.698°W / 53.774; -2.698

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