Start date revealed for £6.3m restoration of Preston's Harris Museum

Work on a £6.3m scheme to restore Preston's Harris Museum could be underway within a month.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:55 am

The city council is expected to hand over the showpiece building to contractors by the beginning of May once final costings of the renovation have been approved.

Preston-based heritage specialists Conlon Construction, who built the city's new market hall, refurbished the bus station concourse and restored the famous Spanish Hall in Blackpool's Winter Gardens, have been appointed as the main contractors.

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The Harris Museum building has dominated the city centre for almost 150 years.

The work, which will involve removing the mezzanine level inside the Harris as well as carrying out extensive repairs to the outside of the Grade I Listed building, is part of a £10m project called Re-imagining the Harris.

The plan is to "restore and re-imagine the Harris as a 21st century community, cultural and learning space, making it accessible to anyone who needs it."

A report which will go before full council next week for approval says it is "more than simply the conservation of the much-loved building.

"The project will ensure the Harris remains at the vibrant heart of the community, where people want to spend their time."

Stonework on the Harris is in need of urgent repair.

Councillors will be asked to approve the start of the construction phase of the contract which will cover conservation, restoration and renovation of the Harris.

The council has £6.3m available to do the work, comprising contributions from itself and external funding bodies, including a grant of just over £800,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport delivered through Arts Council England.

"It is anticipated the final costs and fees will be settled by the end of April and a contract entered into for the Harris to be handed over to Conlon Construction at the beginning of May," says the report.

"The Re-imaging project will bring a major cultural capital project to Preston. This will underpin the development of the Harris into both a leading cultural attraction in North West England and an important cultural, learning and social resource for the city's communities.

"The Harris will support cultural tourism to the city through a significant programme of events. Local communities will benefit significantly from the cultural engagement that the Harris will offer."

The Harris was founded by Edmund Harris in 1877 and is the jewel in Preston’s architectural crown.