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Beginning of demolition work at the Saint-Joseph orphanage

Demolition work at the Saint-Joseph Orphanage

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


Earlier this month, residents of Preston witnessed brickwork falling on Theater Street following ongoing demolition work at St Joseph’s Orphanage on Mount Street.

But the Preston City Council construction team assessed the site on July 7 and found the work to be safe.

Read more: Dramatic drone footage shows the extent of the fire at the abandoned St Joseph’s Orphanage in Preston

A Preston City Council representative said: ‘The site owners have employed their own contractors for the demolition work, and Preston Council continues to work closely with them.’

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

Initially, Czero Developments took over the site and requested the conversion of the chapel and tower buildings into three apartment buildings and ten 67-room townhouses.

They were to demolish five existing buildings in Grade II listed St Joseph as part of the proposals.

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

But ownership of the site now belongs to London-based Zimrock Ltd, which filed a planning application on March 1.

They request the release of conditions 12 (archaeology) and 20 (phasing plan of road works).

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

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

Preston had one of the worst death rates in the county due to poor housing and disease-causing low-paying factory jobs, with a lack of funds for medicine 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 in two dormitories, with a chapel added in 1910 which organized collections to help pay for health care for poor and sick children.

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

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

In 1988 the orphanage closed and the building became a retirement home.

It functioned until the closing of its doors in February 2003 but remained abandoned.

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