Celebrate a Winckley Square Christmas in your own home

A group created to champion one of Preston’s most historic squares has given its own special gift to the city this Christmas.

By Fiona Finch
Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 7:00 am
Patricia Harrison, Chair of the Friends of Winckley Square,  puts the finishing touches to the Christmas tree   Photo: Neil Cross
Patricia Harrison, Chair of the Friends of Winckley Square, puts the finishing touches to the Christmas tree Photo: Neil Cross

That gift is free, heartfelt and is readily accessible to all Prestonians both here in Lancashire and further afield. Not only that it will appeal to a wider audience too for it is truly, as its title declares ‘A Winckley Christmas Cracker’.

Billed as an Alternative Christmas Concert from the Friends of Winckley Square, this 35 minute online show celebrates the Square past and present.

It contains music and aerial views of the city square as well as memorable cameo performances from the ghosts of Christmas past, a present day visit by Santa, a wealth of historic images and music a plenty.

Steve Harrison of the Friends of Winckley Square in his role as Mayor Monk Photo: Neil Cross

The project was conceived as a way to share the Christmas carols and mulled wine celebration usually held in the Square each December. Chair of the Friends of Winckley Square Patricia Harrison explains in her introduction to the film ,which can be seen on YouTube: ”In the years BC, before Covid that is, you would have attended lots of events throughout the year... We couldn’t let Christmas go by without a Christmas offering to you. Enjoy our Christmas concert this year in your home.”

The roles from Christmas Past are taken by Beth Nolan as Annie Budden, Peter Wilkinson as Thomas Miller, Steve Harrison as Mayor Monk, Susan Douglas as Henrietta Miller and Judy Beeston as Edith Rigby. Their stories tell much about past life in the Square from the suffragette campaigns of Edith Rigby, to the notoriety of Mayor Monk and of the Miller family whose name lives on in city landmarks, the Miller Park and the Miller Arcade.

Seasonal music,carols and songs are included with piper Malcolm Smith, FoWs member Ian Williams leadis the the Midge Hall Singers with assistance from Preston Methodist Voices and local group Saraban concludes the concert.

The video was produced by Studio RTR with aerial footage from Fulwood company Drone Works. Photos were provided by members of Preston Photographic Society and historic images came courtesy of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in the city.

Promoting the concert - extract from the Twinckley Square Times, the Christmas edition of the Friends of Winckley Square's newsletter

The concert, which was supported by Preston City Centre BID and the Winckley Square CIC (Community Interest Company) went live on YouTube on Sunday.

Steve Harrison said: "We've been really pleased with the response. We've had over 800 views in 48 hours. We'e pleased with the number and we're particularly pleased with the comments that have come back. It's been extremely encouraging. We appreciate feedback both on YouTube and via Facebook."

If Covid restrictions permit the Friends hope to stage their first public event next year on June 5 with the launch of the Preston Jazz Festival in the Square.

To access the concert see Friends Of Winckley Square on YouTube.

Susan Douglas of the Friends of Winckley Square who played the role of Henrietta Miller in the Christmas concert. Photo: Neil Cross

* Photos taken during rehearsals by Neil Cross

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Steve Harrison in his role as Mayor Monk surveys the statue in Winckley Square gardens - the mayor's name was chiselled off its base after he was disgraced. Photo: Neil Cross