Farewell to two institutions which served Preston for a century

The demolition of two historic institutions in Preston – Mount Street Hospital and St Joseph’s Orphanage – is close to starting.

By Brian Ellis
Friday, 4th March 2022, 4:40 pm
The crumbling remains of Mount Street Hospital and the orphanage.
The crumbling remains of Mount Street Hospital and the orphanage.

The project to build 67 new homes on the historic site, which was given planning permission a year ago, is set to get underway soon.

St Joseph’s Orphanage for Catholic girls was opened in 1872 on the site of an alms house, and St Joseph’s Hospital for the Sick Poor followed five years later.

The Grade II Listed buildings were built by wealthy widow Maria Holland, who gave £10,000 at a time when Preston had one of the worst mortality rates in the country, because of poor housing and low-paid mill workers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

St Joseph’s Orphanage cared for 971 children before it closed in 1954.

Read More

Read More
Plans to transform Preston's old French Connection store into a cafe gather pace

Run by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of Mercy, the orphanage was the first welfare provider for Roman Catholic girls in Preston, taking in up to 60 youngsters at a time in two dormitorie, even though it was only built to accommodate 30.

After its closure, the top floor of the orphanage continued to serve as accommodation for the nuns who worked in St Joseph’s Hospital, known locally as Mount Street Hospital.

During the First and Second World Wars, they tended injured soldiers and, over the years, tens of thousands of babies were born at the hospital’s maternity unit.

Legendary performer George Formby died at the hospital following a heart attack on March 6, 1961.

The hospital, which began life as a place treating the poor and became a luxury private infirmary, closed when the last sisters left nursing in 1982. It became a private care home in 1988, which eventually closed down in 2007.

For the past 15 years the buildings have stood empty and have now become dangerous. Vandalism and the wet Lancashire weather have taken a heavy toll on both the hospital and the orphanage.

Plans to demolish five of the six buildings have been going through Preston Council for some time. But the latest scheme to replace them with three apartment blocks and 10 townhouses, together with a refurbished chapel and tower, will provide 67 homes.

It was given planning permission in February last year, subject to strict conditions governing the way the buildings are demolished and how the new homes are built.