On this day … 31 December 1881

Preston, Harris Orphanage.
A hand-tinted Frith postcard showing the Harris Orphanage

The Preston Guardian reported that the Harris Trustees managing the bequest of £311,805 (more than £20 million in today’s money) left in the will of Edmund Harris for his fellow Prestonians had granted £90,000 to fund what came to be called the Harris Orphanage, and that land in Fulwood had been bought for the purpose.

In fact, the trustees made a grant of £100,000 for the orphanage: £28,000 for the building and a £72,000 endowment to fund running costs. The site was to be paid for from funds that a local orphanage committee had been raising for a number of years. The committee had already identified the eventual site for the orphanage ‘in a healthy district’ on Garstang Road.

The generous bequest meant that funds could be devoted to designing an extremely attractive grouping of buildings.

A council was set up to run the orphanage included fourteen Church of England members and seven Nonconformists. The religious ratio was maintained in the future.

Children living within eight miles of the town hall who had lost both parents were eligible for admission, and those who had lost one parent could be admitted at the discretion of the council. They were to be taught trades to fit them for service on leaving the orphanage. There was religious instruction every day.

Care for orphaned Catholic girls was provided by nuns at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Theatre Street in the town centre. What happened to orphaned Catholic boys?

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