The Lancashire Evening Post, Monday, 3rd September 2001
Not just flats… history may point way to a brighter future for area

A troubled Preston community is set to revisit its colourful past – when Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads were on the rampage.

Avenham, an area with a high crime rate and low public morale, will delve deep into history to a time when people really lived in fear. The move is designed to improve the area’s feelgood factor by teaching people there is much more to their community than meets the eye.

A new history trail, designed by the Avonquest Regeneration Trust, will take people back to a time of war. Millions of pounds are being poured into Avenham to alleviate poverty and improve housing, health and education. Dour high-rise tower blocks and escalating crime are normally associated with the district.

But the area has a rich cultural heritage with outstanding architecture and pockets of well-tended greenery. It boasts some of Preston’s finest town houses, including those on Winckley Square and Avenham Colonnade. The Harris Institute and the former St Augustine’s Church, now being redeveloped as a community centre, are architectural gems. And the charms of Avenham Park hark back to the days of Victorian prosperity.

Delving further back in time, the Cromwell Roundheads rampaged through Avenham in the Battle of Preston in 1648. His victory over the Royalists in the Civil War sealed the fate of Charles I, leading to his execution. The Trust has worked hand-in-hand with Business in the Community to launch the trail. Historians have been uncovering the past’s secrets to put together a series of maps.

They are available in a booklet from Wednesday, alongside an Internet site. Christine Johnson, one of the project’s leaders, said: “Avenham is an area which often courts negative publicity. “But it has a lot to offer. “We are keen to get across a much more positive image and educate people about the history and interest in the area.” She said that over the last year the project had uncovered many gems of history and tales of Avenham – all of which would be unveiled when the booklet is launched.

She said the guide would include two walks – longer and shorter to incorporate Avenham’s civil war heritage and the historic parks and much more. She added: ‘We want Avenham to be a place people want to live in and are proud to associate with.”

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, September 2001