For a century and a half Preston was the archetypal Lancashire cotton town, with mills and terraced houses for the workers. Behind the economic might of firms such as Horrocks, there was hardship and squalor: Charles Dickens used Preston as the darkest face of Victorian industry in his novel "Hard Times". Yet Preston had been an important market town, administrative centre and transport hub for hundreds of years before the first mill, and since the demise of cotton the town has resumed these ancient roles with renewed vigour. With city status recently gained, and the 2012 Guild fast approaching, now is the time to re-evaluate Preston's unique and important place in the nation's history. This is a wonderful book, fully illustrated.