Since 1974 Preston has been a village and suburb about a mile north of North Shields, North Tyneside. It has a population of 8,419, as at the 2011 UK census. Historically a separate entity, it has slowly been absorbed into the town to the south and expanded as to form a continuous urban area north to Monkseaton.
History of Preston and 'Preston Township'
Preston is first mentioned in a charter dated between 1106 and 1116 and is recorded in the St. Alban's Register. At about this time the lands of Preston were granted by King Henry I to the monks of St. Oswin at Tynemouth. At the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the lands were returned to the Crown. In 1649, the Township was enclosed and 265 acres (1.07 km2) of land were divided and granted to various copyhold tenants. In 1832 Preston Township, together with Tynemouth, North Shields and Cullercoates was constituted a Parliamentary Borough. By an order granted on August 6, 1849, the four were incorporated into Tynemouth Borough for municipal purposes.
Preston Township originally lay between the townships of North Shields to the south and Monkseaton to the north, Tynemouth to the east and Chirton to the west within the ancient borough of Tynemouth. In addition, when Shiremoor was enclosed in 1788, approximately 94 acres (380,000 m2) of land were annexed to Preston Township. This annex was originally known as "Northumberland Place" but is nowadays known as "West Allotment".
The main industries in the area were coal mining from the 12th to the 20th centuries, the tanneries of the 13th century, the breweries of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the damask factory of the 19th century and the carriage works of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Within the township is Preston Village, described by Parson and White in their descriptive book on Durham and Northumberland of 1828 as: "a very pleasant village 1-mile (1.6 km) north of North Shields to which its Township extends. It occupies a fine eminence which commands an extensive and beautiful prospect. Here are several gentlemen's villas, two public gardens, two common breweries, four public houses and a linen manufactory: besides about 100 houses and cottages which have a neat and clean appearance."