Attractions and Features
The park is one of North West England’s finest examples of Victorian parkland. Its mix of formal garden design, historical monuments, and inviting green spaces make it a standout destination in Preston.
Derby Walk runs along the northern edge of the park. Ornamental urns are filled with colourful flowers. At the centre of the terrace stands a large statue of the Edward Smith-Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby, Member of Parliament for Preston (1826 – 1830) and three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This statue is a visual testament to his influence and legacy.
A flight of steps leads down to the centrepiece of the park, its picturesque Victorian fountain. Its base features figures representing earth, air, water, and fire. When it opened, it reputedly produced a jet of water that shot more than sixty feet into the air. Today’s display is much more modest.
There’s a bandstand just south of the fountain. This structure is a 20th-century addition.
The West Grotto and East Grotto are at opposite ends of the park. Both are rockwork features and secluded retreats. The West Grotto boasts a small waterfall.
There’s no playground or anywhere to buy food and drink at Miller Park. Avenham Park has a cafe and a small play area.
Avenham Park is immediately east of Miller Park. It can be accessed from the park’s northern end by walking along Derby Walk and passing under the Ivy Bridge. From the southern end, walk along Riverside Walk and through the East Lancashire Railway Viaduct.
The best place to check for upcoming events and activities at the park is on the official Avenham and Miller Parks Facebook page.
History of Miller Park
Miller Park and its neighbour, Avenham Park, were established in the 1860s. During this period, the American Civil War was ongoing, and its effects were felt as far away as England’s northwestern cotton towns, including Preston, which were in the grip of the Lancashire Cotton Famine.
During this challenging time, the creation of the parks served a dual purpose. Besides providing leisure and green spaces for the local community, they were built as part of public works projects to keep the cotton workers employed. This initiative was crucial in preventing high unemployment’s societal and economic problems. Thus, the parks are more than just recreational spots; they are monuments to Preston’s social history.
The park was designed by landscape architect Edward Milner and officially opened its gates to the public in 1867.
In the early 21st century, the park underwent an extensive restoration programme. The mission was to return the park to its original design and beauty while removing later additions that were not sensitive to the park’s historic character. The work included the removal of a modern toilet block and carefully restoring the park’s unique rockwork.
Riverside Walk runs along the northern bank of the River Ribble, through Miller Park and into Avenham Park. The tree-lined path is part of the Preston Guild Wheel, a 21-mile circular cycling and walking route around the city.
Dogs must be kept on a lead in Miller Park. Preston City Council publish dog regulations for parks and other public spaces on their website.
Avenham Park is a better choice for dog walkers. In most areas of Avenham Park, dogs can be let off the lead, allowing them to explore, play and interact freely.
Location and Getting There
Miller Park lies on the southern edge of Preston city centre, on the northern side of the River Ribble. It is adjacent to Avenham Park.
The park has several entrances, but many visitors enter through Avenham Park, allowing them to take in the beauty of both parks.
A direct entrance to the park’s western side is at the bottom of West Cliff. Another entrance is at the southwestern corner of the park on South Meadow Lane. Both of these entry points lead to paths passing under the railway bridge carrying the West Coast Main Line to Preston Station.
There are several nearby car parking options for those driving to the park. The East Cliff Car Park on East Cliff Road (postcode PR1 3JH) is one of the closest options. Further choices include the Preston Train Station and Fishergate Shopping Centre car parks. Fees apply at all these car parks.
The park is easy to reach by public transport. Preston Railway Station is just a short walk away from Miller Park, making it a convenient choice for those arriving in Preston by rail.
Preston Bus Station is approximately one mile away from the park.
Other Parks in Preston
Beyond Miller Park, Preston offers many other parks and green spaces.
Avenham Park is adjacent to Miller Park. It offers a more casual setting and features a Japanese rock garden plus historical points of interest such as the Swiss Chalet, Boer War Memorial, and the Italianate Belvedere. The Avenham Pavilion houses a cafe, park offices, and function rooms. The embankment of the East Lancashire Railway separates the parks.
Moor Park is the largest park in Preston. The park provides ample recreational facilities such as playing fields, a skate park, multi-use game areas, tennis courts, and fitness equipment. It often hosts music festivals and other big events.
Haslam Park is another notable park. It is located in Ashton-on-Ribble, northwest of the city centre, and hosts a nature reserve, perfect for visitors interested in the local flora and fauna. The park has a playground, tennis courts, and a free car park. The Lancaster Canal runs along its eastern edge.
Ashton Park lies between Haslam Park and Preston Docks. It offers large open spaces for dog walking, football pitches, tennis courts, playgrounds, and a free car park.
Grange Park, located east of the city centre, was the first park in Preston to receive a Green Flag Award. It was formerly the location of Ribbleton Hall, a manor house built in 1865 for Thomas Birchall, mayor of Preston. The house was demolished in 1955, and a public park was established.
Beacon Fell Country Park is an excellent destination for those willing to venture a little further out. The park offers various walking trails through beautiful woodland and stunning views of the Lancashire countryside.
Finally, Brockholes, a nature reserve managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. With its floating visitor village and numerous trails meandering through various habitats, it’s a perfect place for spotting wildlife.