A Brief History of Preston

Preston derives its name from the Old English, Preosta - meaning priest and Tun - meaning enclosure of homestead.

It is first mentioned in a Royal charter dated between 1106 and 1116 and recorded in the St. Alban's register. At this time, King Henry I (1110-1135) granted lands in Preston as well as Earsdon, Chirton, Seghill, Monkseaton, Whitley and others to the monks of St. Oswin at Tynemouth.

Apart from a spot of plundering in 1323 0r 1324 by Thomas de Middleton and others when oxen, cows and household goods where taken, Preston history apears to have been fairly uneventful until 1539. This was the year in which the dissolution of the monasteries took place and the lands were seized by the Crown.

The next notable event was in 1649 when Township was enclosed and 265 acres of land were divided and granted to the various copyhold tenants. More details are given in "The Farms of Preston"

Until the Reform Act of 1832, Preston saw little change. It was in that year that the Township, together with Tynemouth, North Shields and Cullercoats, was constituted a Parliamentary Borough and by an order granted on 6th August 1849, the four were incorporated into Tynemouth Borough for municipal purposes.

In 1904, Tynemouth became a county Borough and remained so until 1974, when it joined with its neighbouring towns to form the metropolitan Borough of North Tyneside.

Being part of North Tyneside, the original boundaries of Preston Township are now unmarked but, as a general guide, it lies between North Shields to the south and Monkseaton to the north. To the east is Tynemouth and to the west, Chirton. The map above shows the boundaries in more detail.

In addition, when the Shire Moor was enclosed in 1788, approximately 94 acres of land was annexed to Preston Township. This was known originally as Northumberland Place - presumably because part of it was held by the Duke of Northumberland - but more recently as West Allotment - being the allotment of land to the west of the Township.

Whilst several industries have flourished in the area over the years - notably the tanneries of the 13th century, coal-mining from the 12th to the 20th centuries, the breweries during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the linen and damask factory of the early 19th century and the carriage works of the late 19th and early 20th century - Preston was primarily an agricultural area until quite recently.

Agriculture has virtually ceased here now, however, the vast majority of the farm land having been developed in the 1950's and 1960's. The only working farm is Rake House on the northern edge of the Township.

By far the biggest employer in the early part of the 20th century was the colliery (see Coal in Preston). After this closed in 1926, the employees were forced to seek work outside the Township. With the development of modern transport it was made easier for them and others who already worked away from the area to travel to their jobs and Preston gradually became a dormitory.

The Township, not including West Allotment, measures approximately 646 acres whilst Preston Village, through which you are shortly to be guided, is generally accepted as being Front Street and those roads and lanes running off it.

Before we commence our tour.. Preston Village