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Harris art Institute. 1842. Avenham Lane, Preston, Lancashire. UK. | by JohnnyEnglish
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Harris art Institute. 1842. Avenham Lane, Preston, Lancashire. UK.

Institution for The Diffusion of Useful Knowledge


The Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was founded by the Temperance Movement in 1828 and was originally located in Cannon Street. The Institute was a competitor of The Literary and Philosophical Institution in Winckley Square.


A classical-revivalist building, the Institute has a three-bay facade, the pediment above the entrance being supported by pilasters and a pair of fluted Corinthian columns.


The foundation stone was laid in 1844 and the building was constructed between 1846 and 1849 from the designs of John Welch, a local architect. ”The Avenham Institute”, or as it was popularly known, “The Mechanics Institute” moved into the building at the end of Avenham Walk in 1850. In 1882 the trustees of the late Edmund Robert Harris, a local solicitor who had died in 1877, endowed the Institution. A number of houses in Regent Street were purchased and demolished so that the Institute could be extended. The Institute, henceforth to be known as the Harris Institute became a centre of excellence for the teaching of Art and Science.


In the early Edwardian period it was in financial danger owing to a decrease in the number of students, overstaffing and what was referred to as “lack of mental equipment in those presenting themselves for examination” (!).


The trustees later paid for the Harris Technical College in Corporation Street, to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. The building was opened by the Earl of Derby in 1899 to provide the young people of the area with a technical education. It was well equipped with modern machinery for spinning and weaving cotton, "all of which was driven by electricity". Other studies included mechanics and engineering; machine and building construction; carpentry and joinery; plumbing; masonry and brickwork and electrical engineering.


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Taken on January 1, 2005