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Demolition work begins at St Joseph’s Orphanage

Posted on - 16th July, 2022 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - History, Housing, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment
Demolition work at St Joseph’s Orphanage

Preston City Council confirmed that demolition work at St. Joseph’s Orphanage presents no danger to the public.

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Earlier this month, Preston residents witnessed falling masonry on Theatre Street from ongoing demolition works at St. Joseph’s Orphanage on Mount Street.

But Preston City Council’s building team assessed the site on July 7 and found the work presented no danger.

Read more: Dramatic drone images show extent of fire at Preston’s derelict St Joseph’s Orphanage

A Preston City Council representative said: “The site owners have employed their own contractors for demolition works, and Preston Council are continuing to work closely with them.”

There were plans to convert the building into flats in 2004, but this did not occur, and then major redevelopment proposals to convert the majority of the site into flats and townhouses were approved.

Initially, Czero Developments took over the site and applied to convert the chapel and tower buildings into three apartment blocks and ten townhouses with 67 rooms.

They were due to demolish five existing buildings at the Grade-II listed St Joseph’s under the proposals.

Read more: Fishergate closed as eight fire engines battle Preston city centre blaze

But ownership of the site now belongs to London firm Zimrock Ltd, who lodged a planning application on 1 March.

They requested a discharge of conditions 12 (archaeology) and 20 (phasing plan for highway works).

In May 2022, a fire broke out at the orphanage that saw Fishergate close for two hours, with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service tweeting dramatic drone images that showed the extent of the damage.

Read more: To the workhouse! Bed sharing and the ‘itch’ in Victorian Preston

St Joseph’s Orphanage opened in Preston in 1872 on the site of a former almshouse, funded by a £10,000 donation from a wealthy widow named Maria Holland.

Preston had one of the worst mortality rates in the county due to poor housing and low-paid mill jobs causing illness, with a lack of funds for medication or treatment.

The Sisters of Charity of our Lady Mother of Mercy ran the orphanage, the first welfare provider for Roman Catholic girls in Preston, taking up to 60 youngsters across two dormitories, with a chapel added in 1910 that held collections to help pay for health care for poor and sick children.

Read more: Pictures show inside St Joseph’s Orphanage with urban explorer Lost Places & Forgotten Faces

They used the top floor as accommodation for the nuns working in the orphanage, and during the First World War, St Joseph’s provided care for wounded soldiers.

By 1988, the orphanage closed, and the building became a care home.

It operated until it closed its doors in February 2003 but has remained neglected.

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