First look inside the £15m transformation of Preston’s former post office into the Shankly Hotel

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It’s planned to be a first-class conversion of a landmark Preston city centre building – and a fitting tribute to a football legend.

The £15m transformation of Preston’s former main post office into the Shankly Hotel is under way and set for completion by April next year.

READ MORE: Preston hotel to be named after PNE legend Bill Shankly
Along with 60 rooms, a spa and state-of-the-art facilities for dining and functions, including a roof terrace, it will feature much Preston-related memorabilia associated with the man the hotel is named after, Bill Shankly.

The Scot is renowned as one of football’s greatest-ever managers, transforming Liverpool from a Second Division side into multi-trophy winners and laying the firmest of foundations for the Reds to become one of the world’s top clubs.

His Anfield legacy is acknowledged in Liverpool’s Shankly Hotel, which has proved a rousing success since opening three years ago.

The Preston premises will be themed on his links to North End, where he spent the vast majority of his playing career.

Memorabilia on show will include Shankly’s shirt and winner’s medal from the 1938 FA Cup final, while public areas will be themed on a plush 1930s railway carriage, to acknowledged the era in which he signed for North End, actually on a train.

The hotel, prominently located facing Preston’s Flag Market, is being opened by the Signature Living group in partnership with Shankly’s grandson Chris Carline, who is also a director of the Liverpool Shankly Hotel.

Chris, 36, said: “It is a fitting tribute and legacy to my grandfather for a hotel to be named in his honour in Liverpool, but it is also important for his legacy to be honoured in Preston where he spent much of his playing career. He had some amazing footballing highlights and achievements at North End and made some incredible friends, including Tom Finney who my grandfather said was ‘the greatest player he ever saw’.

“I have already been in touch with the Finney family and we hope to have some of Sir Tom’s memorabilia on show along with that of my grandfather.

“I am absolutely delighted that we will be able to bring some of the Shankly magic to this incredible building and share some of the amazing memories with the people of Preston.

“I cannot think of two better places for Bill Shankly’s name to be remembered, honoured and celebrated and, with my grandad’s career history, Preston was always the logical place to follow Liverpool.

“Preston is fast becoming a vibrant place for nightlife and entertainment and we are extremely excited at being able to contribute to Preston’s hospitality offer.”

Signature Living has five hotels around the country and plans 13 by the end of 2020. Roger Jonas, the company’s head of stakeholder relations, added:

“These are extremely exciting times ahead for Signature Living to be coming to Preston.

“There is a new era of excitement and confidence about the city, and we feel it is very much a destination on the rise.”

Post office past of listed building

The Grade II-listed building being converted into the Shankly Hotel was Preston’s main post office for more than a century.

It was built as the Preston Head Post Office on the site of a demolished line of shops and was designed by Henry Tanner. It opened in 1903 and an extension was added in 1925.

After the main post office was relocated in Theatre Street in 2005, the building was acquired by Preston City Council.

It was briefly used as a gallery and shop and hosted a Best of Britannia exhibition.

Early plans to turn it into a library and knowledge centre stalled due to funding issues.

Plans for a regional design and innovation centre were also scrapped while a proposal in 2011 to turn it into a learning centre for young adults also failed to get off the ground.

297 appearances and 2 FA Cup finals

Bill Shankly was born in Glenbuck, Scotland, in 1913 and his association with Preston began in July 1933 after he had made a few appearances for his first club Carlisle United.

He spent the rest of his playing career at Deepdale, playing in the North End side promoted to the First Division in 1934 and going on to make 297 appearances, scoring 13 goals.

He played in two FA Cup finals for North End, helping them to win the trophy in 1938, beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 thanks to a penalty by George Mutch. That remains the last time to date that North End won the cup.

Shankly won five caps for Scotland and after his playing career ended at North End in 1949, he went on to manage Carlisle, Grimsby, Workington and Huddersfield before taking up the reins at Liverpool – who were then languishing in the Second Division, in 1959.

He guided the Reds to promotion in 1962 before going on to win three First Division Championships, two FA Cups, four Charity Shields and one UEFA Cup.

Shankly announced his surprise retirement from football a few weeks after Liverpool had won the 1974 FA Cup Final and he died, aged 68, in 1981,

The Kop at Deepdale has been named in his honour since 1998.