Preston, city and district (1991 pop. 166,675), county seat of Lancashire, N England, on the Ribble River. Preston has an active port and is a center of cotton and rayon manufacturing. Some mills have closed, but work has been created in the areas of engineering, as well as aircraft, motor vehicle, industrial machinery, and electrical appliance production. A guild-merchant festival has been held in Preston every 20 years for more than four centuries. One of the oldest administrative regions in England, Preston has sent representatives to Parliament since the 13th cent. It was the scene of a victory by Oliver Cromwell in 1648 and of the surrender of the Jacobites after the rising of 1715. The Gothic town hall was completed in 1867 from designs by George Gilbert Scott. The Harris Museum and Art Gallery is a notable attraction. The city is the birthplace of Richard Arkwright and Francis Thompson.