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Historic book collections at the Harris at heart of lottery bid

Posted on - 27th December, 2016 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, History, News, Preston City Centre, Preston Council

Down in the Harris basement there are reams of records and books

Down a narrow flight of stairs and along a damp corridor there’s something Prestonians rarely get to see.

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The basement of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery is kept away from public view.

But this is one of the city’s best kept secrets with tens of thousands of books and records about the city, and beyond, stored away.

Just before Christmas the news was announced exclusively on Blog Preston the Harris had put in its bid for £15million of lottery funding – the largest ever by an organisation in the city.

Putting aside the plans for the new entrances in the grade-I listed building there’s details about what they’ve got on the agenda for the inside that are easily overlooked.

Councillor Peter Kelly explaining how the basement archives would be kept as part of the revamp

Councillor Kelly explaining how the basement archives would be kept as part of the revamp

Councillor Peter Kelly, in charge of leisure and culture at the city centre, can’t be faulted for his passion for the building and it’s in these basement rooms he points to the reason they want to change up the building.

Original papers and books dating back to 1615 have not been seen by the public for decades, but the proposals would see the basement library brought up and out into public areas.

Plans show how the cafe would be completely revamped and moved from it’s current location in the centre of the building – with a new temporary exhibition space there instead.

Cllr Kelly also revealed during the Facebook Live the Harris is applying to become a wedding venue – so the Harris balcony can be licenced for weddings.

A revamp of the current cafe is also due to begin in the New Year, and some of the books and collections kept down in the basement will be emerging blinking into the daylight for the first time in decades.

These kinds of historic books would be brought up into public areas

These kinds of historic books would be brought up into public areas

If you’ve been into the IT room off to the right hand side of the entrance you can see a small glimpse of what is potentially to come for the Harris.

Read more: Free public WiFi plan for the Harris and Flag Market

The Makers Space is an arts and creation area, and can be booked by schools, arts groups and many more groups if they need a space to work in.

These kind of spaces given an idea of what the lottery funding would do

These kind of spaces given an idea of what the lottery funding would do

The Harris, on the inside, would be completely transformed if the lottery bid were to be successful – and the outside would be too – although whether Historic England decide they agree with the new entrances remains to be seen.

What do you think about the Harris lottery bid? Let us know in the comments below

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