Moor Park

Nestled on the northern outskirts of the city centre, Moor Park stands as one of Preston’s most treasured green spaces. This idyllic parkland provides locals and visitors a peaceful natural oasis amidst the bustling city. 

As the city’s oldest and largest park, Moor Park holds a special place in the heart of the community. Its expansive open spaces, winding pathways, and amenities offer something for everyone to enjoy. Families flock to the playgrounds, dogs run across the fields, and athletes use the many sports facilities.

Features of Moor Park

Moor Park has diverse facilities and features across its expansive grounds. They include:

  • Multi-Use Games Areas: Courts for various sports like basketball and tennis.
  • Outdoor Gym: Modern outdoor gym equipment and climbing wall.
  • Skatepark: Concrete skatepark with ramps, rails and bowls.
  • Bowling Greens: Four bowling greens.
  • Table Tennis Tables: Concrete tables available for public use.
  • Ball Courts: Basketball, netball and tennis courts.
  • Football Pitches: Eight marked pitches for organised matches.
  • Cricket Facilities: Artificial wickets and practice nets.
  • Children’s Playground: Swings, roundabouts, and climbing frames.
  • Rosemary on the Park: Dog-friendly cafe.
  • Public Toilets: Adjacent to the cafe.
  • Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory: Observatory and weather station.

With so much on offer, the park caters to the whole community and contains something for everyone to enjoy.

Rosemary on the Park

Lying at the park’s southern edge sits the charming Rosemary on the Park. This dog-friendly cafe offers visitors a relaxing atmosphere and quality homemade food and drinks. It’s hugely popular with dog walkers who frequent the park daily.

Inside the quaint interior or at sunny outdoor tables, guests can tuck into fresh soups, sandwiches, barista coffees, cakes and more.

Moor Park Observatory

The Moor Park Observatory (also known as the Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory) was built by Preston Council. It opened in 1927 on the same day as a total solar eclipse. Over 30,000 people gathered in the park to witness this astronomical phenomenon and the observatory’s opening.

Now owned by the University of Central Lancashire, the observatory also operates as a weather station. It opens to the public at special events throughout the year. 

Tom Benson Stone

An unassuming stone in the park honours the remarkable achievement of Preston local Tom Benson. In 1986, Benson set a new world record by walking a staggering 415 miles non-stop, without sleep, around the park’s perimeter.

The Tom Benson Stone is situated at the southwestern corner of the park.

Serpentine Lake

The Serpentine Lake is found at the northeastern corner of the park, near the entrance on Blackpool Road. The pond is home to many birds, including moorhens, coots, and mallards.

The Starting Chair

Moor Park became a public park in 1833. Before that, it was common land called Preston Moor. 

Between 1736 and 1833, Preston Moor was the venue for annual horse races. A stone called The Starting Chair marked the starting line for races. It still stands today and can be found at the park’s northern end, just east of the observatory.

Bricklayers Guild Monument

The Bricklayers Guild Monument was created for the 1952 Preston Guild festival. Weighing more than 15,000 pounds, it was paraded around the streets of Preston on a float as part of the festival celebrations. After the festival, it was permanently installed in the park.

Events

The park is the venue for some of Preston’s most significant outdoor events.

Events held here include the Preston Live music festival, Rockprest rock music festival, Preston City Mela, and Preston Caribbean Carnival.

Details of upcoming events can be found on the Preston City Council website.

Dogs

As an expansive urban green space, the park is a dog walker’s paradise. Well-behaved dogs are welcome across most areas. Dogs are not permitted in any areas where sports and activities occur. Such places include the children’s playground, skate park, sports courts, or bowling greens.

Check Preston City Council’s website for the latest dog regulations in public spaces.

Accessibility

Accessible toilets are available in the bowling pavilion. The park is suitable for disabled access and includes well-maintained and level paths.

Getting to Moor Park – Location, Parking, Buses

Moor Park lies just north of Preston city centre, adjacent to Deepdale (the home ground of Preston North End FC – postcode PR1 6RU).

The park edges are bordered by major thoroughfares of Sir Tom Finney Way (A6063), Blackpool Road (A5085) and Garstang Road (A6). Moor Park Avenue forms the southern boundary. Blackpool Road is the northern boundary.

Free parking is available on-site. The car park is opposite the Deepdale Stadium (PR1 6RU). The car park is closed when Preston North End FC plays at home.

Limited street parking is also available on Moor Park Avenue (PR1 6AS).

Numerous buses pass the park, making it easily accessible by public transport.

There is a bus stop on the A6063 (Tom Finney Way – Deepdale Road) on the park’s eastern side. Buses stopping here include:

There’s also a bus stop on the A6 (Garstang Road) on the park’s western side. Buses stopping here include:

There is no train station within walking distance. The nearest train station is Preston, which is on the West Coast Main Line. From the station, you can take a short taxi ride to the park. Alternatively, take one of the buses listed above from Preston Bus Station.

Role in the Community – Friends of Moor Park

Since its establishment, the park has provided an invaluable recreational outlet and events space for the people of Preston. Today, that community focus continues through initiatives like the Friends of Moor Park volunteer group.

Members organise park activities, contribute ideas for improvements, and fundraise for facilities. This community-led involvement ensures Moor Park evolves to meet changing needs. picnic

More information about the group and be found on the Friends of Moor Park Facebook page.

History

For centuries, the landscape now known as Moor Park has been an important gathering place and site of local history in the making. Originally called Preston Moor, the area consisted of common grazing land used by local cattle farmers.

In 1648, Preston Moor was the site of a battle between Parliamentarian and Royalist forces during the Second English Civil War.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Preston Moor was a popular site for sporting events. From 1736 to 1833, annual horse races were held here, with the starting line marked by a large stone. The Starting Chair stone still stands today.

In 1833 Preston became the first industrial town to create a municipal park. Preston Corporation enclosed 100 acres of Preston Moor and renamed it Moor Park. 

Between 1862 and 1865, the park underwent significant improvements under the guidance of landscape architect Edward Milner. The works were initiated to provide employment for workers made unemployed by the Lancashire Cotton Famine. Milner was also the designer of Avenham Park and Miller Park. Those parks were also part of a similar public works programme.

In 1863 a cricket club called Preston North End was established at Moor Park. The club moved to Deepdale in 1875. Football was introduced as a winter activity in 1878. By 1880 the club had shifted its primary focus to football. In 1883, the club turned professional and swiftly rose to prominence. They were a founding member of the Football League in 1888 and won the first two championships. 

In 1905, Preston Open Air Baths were added to the park. The baths closed in 1971.

The park played a significant role in the First and Second World Wars. During the First World War, it was the site of a hospital for the war wounded. In the Second World War, it was the site of a prisoner-of-war camp.

In 1986, Tom Benson set a new world record for non-stop walking, covering 415 miles around the park’s perimeter. His achievement is commemorated with the Tom Benson Stone.

In 2002, the park became the first in Preston to receive a Green Flag Award.

In 2004, improvements were made to the park’s football pitches and a new football pavilion was built. These facilities were officially opened in 2005 by Sir Tom Finney.

In 2007, the park hosted Radio 1’s Big Weekend. The event attracted more than 35,000 people over two days.

In 2013, the park received a Grade II* listing from Historic England. Its previous designation was Grade II.

Between 2016 and 2017, the park was renovated with the help of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The history of Moor Park is a testament to its enduring role as a hub for community activities and events. From its beginnings as common land to its transformation into a municipal park, the park has always been a place where the community can come together, whether for sporting events, gatherings, or to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

Preston North End Football Club

Deepdale, the home of Preston North End FC, is one of the oldest professional football stadiums in the world. It is right next to the park.

The stadium has a seating capacity of over 23,00 and has been largely rebuilt in recent years.

Outside the stadium is a water feature sculpture called The Splash, depicting football legend Sir Tom Finney. The statue was unveiled in 2004 and was created by Preston-born sculptor Peter Hodgkinson.

Future Plans for Moor Park

At the time of writing (August 2023), Preston City Council is considering improvements to the park. 

The plans include upgrades to pathways, furniture, and signage. The council also proposes fully refurbishing the sports pavilion to provide accessible, modern facilities. Partners like the Football Foundation would contribute additional funding. They also want to develop the Serpentine Lake area for recreational activities.

Other Parks in Preston

While Moor Park holds a special place in Preston’s history as the first municipal park, many other parks are worth visiting. Each offers unique features and experiences, contributing to the diverse outdoor offerings of the city.

In Preston city centre, Avenham and Miller Parks are adjoining parks that offer a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Designed by Edward Milner, the same landscape architect who redesigned Moor Park, these parks are a testament to Victorian park design. The parks feature a Japanese rock garden and offer stunning views of the River Ribble. Avenham Park is also home to the Pavilion Cafe, a popular spot for a leisurely lunch or coffee.

Haslam Park is an Edwardian-era park in the Ashton-on-Ribble area of Preston. It features a beautiful lake, sensory gardens, bowling greens, tennis courts, and a children’s play area. The park is also home to a nature reserve. 

Ribbleton Park, east of the city centre, is a community park that offers a range of facilities, including football pitches, a basketball court, and a children’s play area.

While not a traditional park, Brockholes is a must-visit for outdoor lovers. The nature reserve is home to various wildlife and offers a unique floating visitor village. Visitors can explore the reserve’s walking trails, enjoy bird watching, or participate in one of the many events hosted there.

Located in Leyland, just a short drive from Preston, Worden Park is a historic park that offers something for everyone. The park features formal gardens, woodland, a maze, craft workshops, and a miniature railway. 

Beacon Fell Country Park, located in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, offers stunning views and a variety of walking trails. 

Nearby Attractions

Tourist attractions and things to do near Moor Park include:

Nearby Shopping

Places to shop near Moor Park include:

Nearby Hotels

Hotels near Moor Park include:

  • Whitburn House Hotel (0.6 miles)
  • Holiday Inn Preston (0.7 miles)

Nearby Transport Links

Transport links near Moor Park include:

  • Preston Bus Station (0.8 miles) - One of the most controversial buildings in North West England.

Map

Map showing location of Moor Park.

Map showing location of Moor Park

Details

Moor Park

Address
Sir Tom Finney Way
Preston
Lancashire
United Kingdom