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Preston Guild Lodge’s historic banner given new lease of life

Posted on - 14th May, 2024 - 6:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Proud Preston
Members of Preston Guild Lodge with the restored banner
Members of Preston Guild Lodge with the restored banner

A historic banner belonging to Preston Guild Lodge has been given a new lease of life.

The banner was handmade and embroidered in pure silk in 1927 by the craftspeople of Stephen Simpson Ltd at The Gold Thread Works in Avenham.

During the Preston Guild Lodge’s centenary celebrations in 2022, members noted that the banner was looking worse for wear, with some of the delicate silk beginning to shatter.

“One idea was to put the banner in a frame and buy a new one,” said the lodge’s David Parker. “But members felt the tradition and history would be lost. It was decided that the banner must be restored if possible.”

The Stephen Simpson's embroidery room in 1929
The Stephen Simpson’s embroidery room in 1929

The People’s History Museum in Manchester was recommended to the lodge. As a charity with a restoration studio that generates income, PHM was a perfect fit for the lodge’s commitment to supporting local causes.

Read more: Mayor of Preston invites local group to Town Hall in recognition of charitable work

David continued: “Although a new banner wouldn’t have been cheap, we realised expert restoration was even more expensive.

“We set up a fabric fund to save for the repairs. This was expected to take some time, but time was something the banner did not have.”

After a suggestion was made to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the lodge set out to establish the case for the banner.

David explained: “The banner is a heritage piece for various reasons. First, the manufacturer was world famous for gold and silver thread, as well as the highest standards of embroidery. Stephen Simpson Ltd had a worldwide reputation and represented the pinnacle of Preston’s textile industry.

“Second, the design featured the 1862 Town and Guild Hall, expertly hand-embroidered at the centre. Sadly, this building was destroyed by fire in 1947. The magnificent building was the epitome of Preston’s wealth from its industry.

“Finally, the basic design of the banner was created by John Hunt. John was a founder member of the
lodge, a renowned silversmith, and Mayor of Preston in 1927. In that year he received the King of Egypt into the town and was honoured with the Order of the Nile by the King on behalf of the citizens.”

Restored Preston Guild Lodge banner
The restored banner, with the 1862 Town and Guild Hall at the centre of the design

During the Heritage Lottery Fund process, the Mayor of Preston Councillor Yakub Patel, The Harris and Preston Historical Society lent their support. The application proved successful and covered half of the restoration cost.

The banner has now been restored and is back in the hands of the masons of Preston Guild Lodge.

To celebrate, the lodge recently hosted a Dedication Ceremony at Preston Masonic Hall with the Mayor in attendance as guest of honour. He was accompanied by representatives from The Harris and the President of Preston Historical Society.

L-R: Tim Horton, James Arnold (The Harris), Noel Colley, The Mayor, David Parker, Tim Joel (The
Harris)
L-R: Tim Horton, James Arnold (The Harris), Noel Colley, The Mayor, David Parker, Tim Joel (The Harris)

During an after-dinner speech, the Mayor commented on his pride in the lodge’s support for the wider community, and described how the restored banner would be an asset to the city.

A presentation about the banner titled A Stitch in Time – Reconnecting Preston’s Past has been developed and is on offer to organisations and schools in the city. This can be arranged by contacting the lodge by email at PGL4408@hotmail.com.

David added: “Given the history and heritage behind the banner, we see ourselves as mere custodians of a community asset and want to share it with the city.”

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This story was made possible by support from you, our readers, and a host of organisations in the city, through our Crowdfund Lancashire appeal, which unlocked support from the Lancashire Culture and Sport Fund provided by Lancashire County Council. You can see all our coverage and, if you know of an arts project or event in the city we should be covering, send details to contactus@blogpreston.co.uk.

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