Travel writers tend to give the Costa Del Preston a wide berth.
But a Northern author reckons they are missing out on a hidden gem, steeped in history, tradition . . . and parched peas.
Jane Brocket, creator of the Grand Provincial Tour, paid Preston a visit and has now published her findings in one of her ‘Brocket Pocket Guides.’
“I had a good idea that I’d find some real treasures in Preston as I’d read a lot about the Bus Station and the Harris Museum and knew they would be worth the visit,” said Jane. “They lived up to my expectations.
“What did surprise me was the fact that Preston has a real sense of continuity and tradition without being staid or old-fashioned.
“The variety of food in the market is fantastic – so many Lancashire specialities and so much fresh local produce – and it’s all still there, not because it’s been rediscovered or made newly fashionable by the media, but because it’s good stuff which is worth making and eating.
“It’s the same with the parched peas – they are a lovely link with Preston’s long history, and yet they are also part of everyday life.”
In her guide guide book, beautifully illustrated and available free online, Jane features the late Victorian Harris Museum and Art Gallery, the ‘Brutalist’ Bus Station, the city’s indoor and outdoor markets, the grandly ornate Miller Arcade, Avenham and Miller parks, Brucciani’s Cafe and two bookshops which have been in the Halewood family since 1867.
“I hadn’t expected Preston to feel so green and expansive,” she said. “Although I come from Stockport and know Manchester very well, I’d no idea that Preston feels very different to the huge Manchester conurbation, and I think this has a lot to do with being close to so much beautiful countryside and the feeling that it’s on the edge of farmland and hills and valleys.
“I was also surprised to find so many lovely older, elegant terraces and houses from the 19th century so close to the centre.
“I didn’t know that Preston feels quite self-contained and quietly confident. A surprise, because I think that many people are lazily dismissive. Yet the locals remain nicely, but not noisily, proud of their city. I wasn’t surprised by the friendliness and local sense of humour, but very pleased to encounter both.”
You can find the Brocket Pocket Guide to Preston at http://www.yarnstormpress.co.uk/yp/preston/