St Joseph’s Orphanage opened in Preston in 1872 on the site of a former almshouse.Advertisement
Its construction was funded by a £10,000 donation from a wealthy widow named Maria Holland.
At the time, Preston had one of the worst mortality rates in the county due to poor housing and low paid mill jobs causing illness.
Read more: Ghostly face seen in tower window at St Joseph’s Orphanage
There was also a lack of funds for medication or treatment.
The orphanage was run by the Sisters of Charity our Lady Mother of Mercy and was the first welfare provider for Roman Catholic girls in Preston.
The orphanage took up to 60 youngsters in at a time across two dormitories.
A chapel was added in 1910, which held collections to help pay for health care for poor and sick children.
The top floor was used as accommodation for the nuns working in the orphanage, and during the First World War, St Joseph’s provided care for wounded soldiers.
Read more: Victorian Society opposes demolition of St Joseph’s Orphanage
By 1988, the orphanage had closed and the building had been converted into a care home, which operated smoothly until it closed its doors in February 2003.
The building has been neglected ever since.
There were plans to convert the building into flats in 2004 which were given the green light but they remained mothballed.
Until April last year when major redevelopment proposals to convert the majority of the site into flats and townhouses was approved.
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‘Lost Places & Forgotten Faces’, an urban explorer of places in the north of England said: “Most explorers will only visit this place in groups, and at night under the cover and safety of darkness, as it is notoriously hard to access during the day due to its prominent and unmissable location right in the centre of Preston.
“I felt it was important to take the risk and go alone during the daytime. Not only did this present the challenge of a much more difficult daytime explore, going by myself only enhanced the levels of creepiness only an abandoned orphanage can offer.
“Whilst natural daylight flooding in through the smashed upper windows allowed me to capture the buildings interior on the upper levels, the flooded basement was pitch black.
“There were lots of dripping noises and creaks accompanied me throughout the explore, which culminated when I finally found the old, smashed mortuary slab. If only walls could talk…”
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