Unlock secrets of Preston's Miller mansion and raise cash for young Ukrainian refugees at 'A House Through Time' talks by Susan Douglass of the Friends of Winckley Square

The secrets of one of Preston’s landmarks buildings are to be revealed in a fundraising series of talks in the city which will raise funds to help young refugees from Ukraine.

By Fiona Finch
Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 4:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 5:25 pm

The “A House Through Time” talks by Susan Douglass will share the story of a city mansion which was built as a luxury home for mill owner Thomas Miller of the renowned Preston company Horrocks Miller. It later became part of Preston Park School, a sixth form centre and part of W.R.Tuson (later Preston) College and is now converted into luxury flats.

Susan Douglass’s fascination with 5, Winckley Square can be traced back to when she was a pupil at the Park School – first years studied at the building on the corner of Winckley Square, before moving on to the grammar school’s Moor Park site.

As one of the Friends of Winckley Square, and inspired in part by the BBC series A House Through Time, she researched the property’s rich history and will share her insights in talks at the Central Methodist Church on Lune Street, Preston on June 13, July 11 and August 1 at 2pm.

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Number 5 Winckley Square photo: Nick Raponi

The imposing property, which dates to the 1850s was built by Thomas Miller Jr.

Patricia Harrison, Chair of the Friends of Winckley Square, said: “A key reason Winckley Square still contains so many buildings dating from the first half of the 19th century is that if a property can be adapted successfully it can survive the worst excesses of some ‘modernisers’. Number 5 is an excellent example...It has served as a grammar school, a sixth form college, a catering college and now as luxury flats. It retains many of the features that Alderman Miller, his family and servants would be familiar with in the 1850s and 1860s.”

Former teacher Susan said: ”I’ve done the research over quite a long period of time, over a good five years. I started when I retired.”

Uncovering the secrets of the building was no small feat. Susan discovered a reference in a 150 year old art journal and by chance discovered another key document in the Lancashire Archives, a reference in an e-book and a family photograph album deposited at the Harris Library. All these sources provided clues about the property and its residents.

Susan Douglass will give three talks on the varied history of the Miller mansion and its inhabitants

Pat said: “It’s the story of the inhabitants, stories of real people, their trials and tribulations which bring the building to life. All will be revealed across the three talks.”

Proceeds from the talks will go to support the children of Ukrainian refugee families.

Pat said: ”Barnardos have created an emergency fund for traumatised children from Ukraine and local charity The Shepherd Street Trust are liaising with them to facilitate the use of the funds raised for the children who arrive in the north west. The Trust assists young people under the age of 21 who reside within a 50 mile radius of Preston Town Hall.”

Pat is hoping for a big turn out at the talks because “it is a cause close to everyone’s heart.”

The "Miller mansion" is now converted into luxury flats. Photo by Paul Rushton

Tickets can be brought online at Eventbrite at a cost of £4 plus booking fee. See Eventbrite and A House Through Time Talk 1 or Talk 2 or Talk 3.

Thomas Miller Jnr
A view of the interior of number 5 Photo by Paul Rushton
Horrocks Miller Factory 1855 - illustration from History of the Borough of Preston and Its Environs in the County of Lancaster by Charles Hardwick, published in 1857
A blue plaque outside Number 5