Love them or hate them, Preston boasts a remarkable array of architectural gems, though sadly some are lost forever. Ten amazing Preston buildings.
1.Preston Bus Station:
Loved and hated in equal part for its ‘Brutalist’ design, Preston bus station was built in 1969 by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson, architects working for Building Design Partnership (BDP) and became the largest bus station in Europe. Designed in four pairs of sculptural concrete fins, it has narrowly avoided demolition several times and was featured on the 2012 World Monument Fund’s list of sites as risk of demolition before becoming Grade 2 listed after intense debate. It has recently been subject of an international design competition and will now be redesigned to include a youth zone and civic space.
2. The Harris Building:
Right in the heart of Preston, the Grade I-listed Harris Library, Museum and Art Gallery was designed by local architect and Alderman James Hibbert (he was educated at Preston Grammar School) in the neo-classical style. Work started on the building in 1882. The design was considered old fashioned in the 1880’s and in contrast to the the design of the Gothic Town Hall designed by George Gilbert Scott. Hibbert, based in architectural practice Hibbert and Rainford, also designed the Fishergate Baptist Church (1857) and St Saviour’s Church, built in 1866. The building work of the Harris was undertaken by Preston-based Cooper and Tullis, also involved in the construction of St Walburge’s.
3. St Walburge’s Church:
Built surprisingly out of the way in the Maudland’s area of Preston, St Walburge’s Catholic Church was designed by Joseph Hansom – better known for the horse-drawn carriage named after him – the Hansom cab. Grade I listed, its tower is famed for being one of the tallest in the country. Known for being one of the most prominent landmarks on the train ride from Preston to Blackpool, the next tower along the way is Blackpool Tower. The area it was built on is actually named after the land’s former use as a leper hospital – St Mary Magdelen’s between 1293 and 1598. The foundation stone for St Walburge’s was laid in 1850 in the presence of a crowd of 8,000 people and several bands. Hansom’s design was quite controversial due to its hammer beam roof which had to be rethought and strengthened by buttresses.The church was completed more than 10 years before the tower after funding ran out – it was entirely reliant on fundraising. In 2007 the church was threatened with closure but it was given a stay of execution in 2008.
4. The Miller Arcade:
Preston’s first ever indoor shopping centre was designed to echo the Burlington arcade in London, one of the most aspirational in the capital city. Built in the late 1890s by Nathaniel Miller, it was designed to be safety conscious and fireproof, even winning an award for the latter. In the Victorian period it used to have a Turkish baths, where people go through different rooms with different temperatures, a business which survived two world wars – although the former entrance has now been made into a window which is still visible today. It also had underground toilets which have been blocked off. It was restored to it’s former glory in the 1970s though many shops still stand empty – however a recent resurgence has seen a number of new businesses move in. The building is Grade 2 listed.
5. St Joseph’s orphanage, Theatre Street
St Joseph’s is a Grade II listed former orphanage and maternity hospital developed as a sequence of buildings from 1872 through to the 1950s. The original building is a two storey, red brick building in a high Gothic style with a tower over the original entrance. The later 1930s and 1950s buildings are designed in a simple modernist style in brick. The buildings are arranged around a courtyard but one that is hidden from view despite its central location.
6.Preston Town Hall (no longer standing)
Inspired by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1862-44, this example of the town’s 19th century industrial wealth was inspired by the Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium and built in the Gothic Revival style, but burned down in mysterious circumstances on March 15, 1947. Despite a petition to save the ruins, the lower part of the building was stabilised and Crystal House built on top. This was later voted Preston’s least favourite building and demolished. The building, which featured a clock tower, was situation between Fishergate and Market Square.
7. Fulwood Barracks
Fulwood Barracks was the last and largest of a chain of barracks built in Britain following the Chartist riots of the 1830’s and is the only one of these still standing. An example of mid-Victorian architecture, it one of seven major barracks still being used for it’s original purpose. It is the home, both literally and spiritually, of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment and successor the Duke of Lancaster Regiment. Built on land that was, in medieval times, a royal forest and was later known as Fulwood Moor and used as common land. Part of land that was occupied by Oliver Cromwell’s right wing in the Battle of Preston on August 17, 1648, the land later formed part of a racecourse laid out by the Earl of Derby. The barracks was built between 1842 and 48 using sandstone quarried from Longridge and brought by railway to Fulwood. It was originally designed to house a full battalion of infantry – around 900 men. A famous incident at the barracks occurred when Private Patrick McCaffery, 19, murdered the commanding officer and his adjutant with a single shot from his musket, resulting in his trial and public execution. His ghost is still said to haunt the barracks today.
8. Preston Corn Exchange
Now the Assembly pub, the red-brick and sandstone building was originally built as the Corn Exchange between 1822-24 and originally had a glass roof over an open court, surrounded by several large rooms. In 1842, at the height of Chartist agitation, striking cotton workers saw the military open fire and killing four protesters.
In the late 1980s a statue of the Preston Martyrs, by Gordon Young, was unveiled outside the Corn Exchange in memory of the event.
The building was redesigned as the Public Hall in 1881-2 with a slate roof and furnished with a hall and galleries for meetings and entertainment, hosting performances from musical acts including The Beatles. The Georgian-style building was closed in 1972 and lay empty until most of the building (except front entrance and foyer) was demolished to make way for road network changes. An extension was then built to house a public house in a sympathetic architectural style and using early features including re-using cast-iron window screens and lunette windows on the front elevation.
9. Horrocks Yard Work Site (Horrockses Mill) Only parts still standing
The Horrocks Yard works site on Stanley Street Preston was set up by John Horrocks in 1791. It was his first spinning mill and one of the largest cotton manufacturing sites in the UK. The cotton mill, run by Horrocks, Miller and Co, gained the name ‘The Yellow Factory’ because of the yellow tint of the exterior bricks. The site gradually expanded to extend to an area surrounded by Church Street, Stanley Street, Queen Street and Grimshaw Street. Following a merger, the firm was later known as Horrockses, Crewdson and Co and enjoyed success with Horrockses Fashions, specialising in ready made cotton wear which was even worn by the Queen. Most of the works closed down and we later demolished, though several buildings remain – including Centenary Mill which is now apartments. In 1927 there were 60 cotton mills operating in Preston.
10.HMP Preston Prison
The first prison was built on the current site at Preston in 1790. It was completely rebuilt in Victorian radial design with wings constructed between 1840 and 1895. After being closed from 1931 to 1939, it was put to military use during the second world war and afterward until 1948, when it was converted back into civilian use. It is now a Category B prison for men.