Five years on since Preston came together to celebrate Guild 2012

This week marks five years since the people of Preston came together to celebrate Guild 2012. The Lancashire Post reflects on the success of the festival and its ongoing legacy as a catalyst for change within the city.

Here was how we covered the Guild year:

Unique celebration
The first Preston Guild took place in 1179 when King Henry II granted Preston market town status.

A Guild Merchant in that age was an organisation of traders, craftsmen and merchants to trade high-quality goods.

Those wishing to trade had to pay a membership, and their goods were closely scrutinised.

Since 1542 the event has only been held every 20 years, but it is the only Guild still celebrated in England.

In 1790 freedom of trade was announced, but the tradition carried on in the form of feasts, processions and celebrations.

The only time the Guild didn’t go ahead was in 1942 when it was cancelled due to the Second World War, meaning there have been 26 events since its inception.

Historically the event saw performances from comedians, circuses, fairs and tightrope walkers, as well as horse racing on Moor Park.

More recently the Guild has seen music stars such as Maverick Sabre and Labyrinth perform on Avenham Park, as well as a variety of processions through the city.

One of the most notable processions is the Torchlight procession when illuminated floats wind through the city at night.

World renowned fashion designer Wayne Hemingway, a Lancashire lad, played a lead role for the Vintage Weekend event as part of Guild 2012.

He told the Lancashire Post: “Guild 2012 was brilliant because it was led by someone, Stella Hall, of national and international significance and experience who absolutely knows what they are doing creatively, artistically and in organisational terms.

“The team working on it, working alongside UCLan and people from the council, was also great. It was one of those things that really worked because everyone pulled together.”

“Avenham and Miller Park is just a fantastic place to hold a festival and that helped to set the scene.

“The energy levels were maintained through the build-up and into the event itself. Sometimes working with councils, it can feel a bit flat, but this one didn’t.

“The media really got behind it to the point where regional broadcasters were doing their weather forecasts there each morning.”

And looking ahead to Guild 2032, Wayne said he would be happy to help out in an advisory role.

He added: “Gerardine and I will have just turned 70 and it should reflect the new generation, that’s the whole point of something that comes around every 20 years, it should reflect how culture and society have moved on.”

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