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Preston Guild poster

This poster was produced for the 1882 Preston Guild celebrations. It shows how the town has developed and lists the Guild Mayors up to Edmund Birley, a local cotton mill owner who held the title that year. 

Preston was granted a charter in 1179 by Henry II, which allowed the freemen of the town to hold regular Guild celebrations. Since 1542 these have been held every 20 years, most recently in 2012.

The condition of the poster

The poster is made of paper with a wooden backing. It was printed by a process called chromolithography, which used a series of stone printing plates, each one adding a new colour of ink to build up the image. It is in a glazed wooden frame for protection. Once it must have been proudly displayed in someone’s home, but since then it was relegated to storage, and it is now in a poor condition.

The poster has spent years in its original frame. The dark wooden back board is split or missing in a number of places and the splits correspond with patches of staining which can be seen on the poster. Here the flow of air and pollutants have reached the poster, causing damaging chemical effects. The gummed paper tape which once acted as a dust seal between the frame and back boards has long since dropped away, allowing dirt to get between the poster and the glass. The frame itself has suffered a lot of knocks and bumps which have damaged the mock wood-grain finish that was applied over the simple wooden moulding.

In a normal museum display this object would not be shown in such a poor state. Here however it reminds us that so much of our memorabilia is rotting away in attics and lofts. Left in this condition, many of these memories could be lost forever.

The Guild

At the time this poster was produced, Trade in Preston was regulated by various trade guilds. No person could set up in business or carry out trade in the town unless he was a freeman burgess of the Guild Merchant. The purpose of the regular celebrations, which became known simply as ‘The Preston Guild’, was to demonstrate the power and importance of the town's businesses.

The Mayor

The portrait on the poster shows Edmund Birley JP. He was born on 19 August 1817 in Kirkham and died on 28 March 1895 in Preston. From a family of mill owners, he was educated at Rugby School. After school he lived at Clifton Hall, near Preston and became Mayor of Preston in 1867.