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“The eyes of the working classes are now fully opened, they begin to cry: Our St. Petersburg is at Preston!” Karl Marx 1854

Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Karl Marx all wrote about the events of Preston's lock-out and strike in 1853 in which "14,000 men and women, subsidized by the trades unions and workshops of all parts of the United Kingdom, fought out a grand social battle." .  The Harris Museum & Art Gallery is a grand monument to all this, named after the philanthropic Preston businessman who gave his money to turn the town's dream of having a free library museum and art gallery into reality. Today it is a lively, vibrant gallery which celebrates the town's history and its cultural riches. Nearby, no prizes for guessing what you might find at Leyland -  the British Commerical Vehicle Museum, of course!

This really was the birthplace of the textile industry and its greatest inventors.. Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the water-frame, entrepreneur and developer of the factory system, was born in Preston and rose to become the richest commoner in the country. His story is told at Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, at the end of the East Lancashire Railway line - you can make the journey by steam train. The displays in the cotton and wool spinning mills here, along with the sister museum at Queen Street Mill Textile Museum- the last commercial steam powered textile weaving mill in the world - are designated as being of national importance.

The Weavers' Triangle at Burnley Wharf on the Leeds Liverpool Canal epitomises Lancashire's textile heritage in all its guises. It includes weaving sheds, spinning mills, weaves' cottages and one of the wonders of the canal world, the amazing "Straight Mile", the Burnley Embankment that carries the canal 60ft above the town. Bancroft Mill, with its working steam engine, is also nearby as is one of the very prettiest spots in all Lancashire, the little 15th century hamlet of Wycoller and its hall, used by Charlotte Bronte as a setting for Jane Eyre.

From here you could pick up the trail of the Witches of Pendle, through the stunning scenery and villages of the Forest of Bowland AONB to the historic city of Lancaster on the coast. And for something completely different it is a short drive south to Blackpool, the UK's favourite seaside resort and home of the iconic Blackpool Tower.

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