urbex photography
St. Joseph's Orphanage for the Sick Poor. Preston

On of many buildings on my 'to do' list was finally ticked off in 2013 after two aborted attempts at getting past the extreme man made rudimentary security. On my third attempt luck was with me as an entire window was missing probably broken the previous night by a pub goer or such like. Anyway, the oppotunity had arisen to finally go inside what from the outside is one impressive gothic loooking building.

Inside is decay. Lots of it. Beside this is an endless maze of corridors and rooms all leading to more corridors and rooms. Treading carefully I made my way around and quickly felt uneasy. Too many strange noises from other parts of the building, and a strange atmosphere inside, dark and just unpleasant. I have to say that the inside isn't as impressive as the outside, with a large portion of the Orphanage just being endless rooms from when it was coverted into a residential care home, with dull 1990's wallpaper. I have this thing aboiut wallpaper. If it was glued up after the 1970's it isn't going to be photogenic and the striped 1990's style wasn't worthy of too many photographs. 

Sadly the theatre was out of bounds. A door nailed shut but which has no doubt been opened since but if it is nailed shut it is not for me to open it. The same went for the Chapel. Yet I wsn't to bothered about the Chapel. 

 

Four hours wandering around this place and it occured to me that going solo to a location like this is really dicing with disaster. One floor by a small staircase looked ok but one foot on it and it merely crumbled, and that was 2 storeys up. I was beginning to feel claustrophobic and disorientated after so many hours so decided to wind it up. The best feature for me was the gloriously hideous 1970's brown psychadelic wallpaper in one of the rooms, I felt dizzy photographing that and am sure the wavey pattern did actually sway! 

Time to leave. Or, time to get back to my entry point. However, I was now at the opposite end of the complex and after a few aborted attempts to find my way back I retreated to the safety of the downstairs room and phoned a friend. I needed help to get out as I couldn't risk going over the brittle floor mentioned earlier and by this time I'd become completely disorientated. My friend put on Google maps and worked out where I was in the building and instructed me to go to the next room which had windows without exterior boards and so I could climb out there. After 2 hours deliberating and a slight panik I did managae to climb out of a small window 10ft up the wall and measuring no more than my head size. Just getting to the window was a feat as that room was a store room and the floor wasn't even visible there was so much stuff packed inside it. How I managed it I have no idea and carrying my camera bag and tripod, but when one is determined to get out a building one becomes amoast super human. The daylight of a dull Preston afternoon was a glorious sight. Seven hours inside. The one bonus from being in that room was uncovering a beautiful vintage sewing machine which I hadn't seen photographed before. I won't return to photograph the Chapel or the Hospital interiors. Some places are just too fraught with danger and leave quite a strange tatste in the mouth. Thanks Paul for getting me out of this place! I will return to get some decent exteriors at some point. Maybe. 

 

HISTORY:

Joseph's Hospital was erected on Mount Street, Preston in 1877 by Mrs Maria Holland for the benefit of the sick poor. It was opened in 1879 and run by the Sisters of Charity of our Lady Mother of Mercy, who also ran St Joseph's Orphanage in Theatre street. In 1884, it opened up two rooms as accommodation for private patients, and during the First World War it provided care for wounded soldiers (often Belgians). The Hospital was later recognised as a training centre for nurses, and accepted its first trainees in 1958. The Hospital closed in the late 1980s, and is now the Mount Street Nursing Home. The Sisters of Charity are still based in Mount Street at Provincial House.

 

On the eastern side of, and immediately adjoining, the Orphanage, there is St Joseph’s Institute for the Sick Poor. This building, which has its front in Mount-street, was erected out of funds bequeathed for the purpose by Mrs. Holland – the lady who erected the Orphanage; and it was opened in 1877. It was for Roman Catholics; was maintained by voluntary contributions; and was attended; gratuitously by local medical gentlemen. There was accommodation at this Institute for about 25 patients.

 

Mount Street Hospital received its first operating theatre in 1910 and in World War 1 it housed wounded British and Belgian soliders. A new wing was added to the Hospital in 1933. In World War 2 it was used to care for Dutch and Belgian sailors and another new wing was opened in 1958 by Princess Marina the Duchess of Kent. The nuns who ran the orphanage were originally Dutch and called the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of Mercy.

 

In reality this complex of buildings is actually 3 Grade II listed buildings all linked together to form a maze of small corridors and a thousand rooms. 

Firstly the Orphanage, opened in 1877, secondly St. Jospeh's Hospital [or Mount Street hospital] run by the same order of nuns as the Orphanage] and also which opened in 1877 and thirdly, the R.C. Chapel designed by James Mangan which opened in 1910 and was built via the funds raised from the Orphanage and the Hospial.

 

The hospital closed its doors in 1986, however all the three buildings were purchased by the present owner who then converted the Orphanage building into a Nursing Home until 2003. He also owns the 1930s extension on Mount Street, and the 1950s extension on Theatre Street - which was the geriatric wing for the hospital. 
 

st joseph's orphanage - preston