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Key to the Harris handed over for refurbishment to begin

Posted on - 19th August, 2022 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Nostalgia, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News
The Harris Museum. Picture: Preston City Council

The metal ceremonial key for The Harris will be handed over to a construction company so refurbishment work can begin.

Conlon Construction Ltd was made the main contractor for the Harris Your Place project earlier this year and they have been working closely with the project team to refine the costs of the scheme and develop the programme for delivery.

The team are now ready to begin the work and the key, designed by Alfred Gilbert which was used in 1893 to open the building, will be handed over to them from Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council.

Read more: Preston church plans to convert part of its building into a retail and storage facility

Internal works will start in the Harris including surveys and asbestos removal as well as installation of hoardings to create a safe working environment, scaffolding erection and preparation for the contractors to start on site.

In preparation for the monumental refurbishment, more than 250,000 objects have been removed from the building and placed into safe storage. Oil paintings, watercolours, sculptures, drawings and prints have been individually cleaned with a brush and conservation vacuum cleaner.

A team of expert movers closely condition checked the artworks and frames with a torch, before each painting was wrapped or crated and catalogued ready for storage. The Harris worked with professional decant contractors, Restore Harrow Green to carefully pack up and remove the collections.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to get to this stage of the Harris Your Place capital project.

“What a real team effort it’s been – decanting the museum with world-class collection items cleaned, protected, catalogued and moved into safe storage, all in preparation for the Harris Your Place renovations to begin.

“The ceremonial handing over of the keys to Conlon Construction is a remarkable step forward in this transformational journey.”

The Harris Key

Michael Conlon, chairman of Conlon Construction, added: “Accepting the ceremonial keys to the Harris, a building of tremendous cultural and historical significance to the city of Preston, is a huge honour.

“Conlon Construction has called the city home for the last 60 years and the Harris fed the imaginations of our team on visits when we were children.

“It even served as the venue for my own wedding last year. Our many connections to the Harris make this quite a unique and special project for all of us at Conlon.

“We’re proud to undertake the refurbishments readying it for the next phase of Its incredible history. It’s an exciting, 21st century facility which will support the needs of the city and the county for generations to come.”

Harris Your Place is a £14million project to restore and reimagine the Harris. When the new Harris opens in Spring 2024, inventive blended displays will give access to remarkable collections.

New spaces have been designed to activate curiosity, creativity and reflection and offer library services in enriched settings, positioning the Harris as a uniquely blended venue, true to its original purpose. 

The new Harris aims to attract a further 100,000 visitors a year on top of the existing 350,000 and will be a real visitor destination for Preston and Lancashire.

The Harris is currently operating from other local spaces around Preston including the Guild Hall. More information can be found about the Harris Your Place project on the Harris website.

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