Culture and Learning • Preston Guild City
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Preston Guild City

Culture and Learning

Harris Institute, Preston, Lancashire

While Preston only had one school until the late 18th century, major changes were soon underway after this. The development of culture and learning institutions began with the creation of the first public library (the Shepherd Library), the Bluecoat School and institutions like the Literary and Philosophical Society.

The men that created these were connected to legal professions. During the 19th century the church took an active role in education, giving working children the opportunity to learn to read and write for the first time.

The Industrial Revolution created a number of successful Preston businessmen, many of whom began to improve and establish schools, public lending libraries, museums and art galleries in the city. Those included Joseph Livesey, founder of the temperance movement, and astronomer Moses Holden, who founded the Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge in 1828. The first organisation inviting working men and women to borrow books and attend classes on a range of topics - from astronomy, photography and natural history to foreign languages.

Perhaps the most important development, however was the Harris Library, Museum and Art Gallery, created after the death of Edmund Harris. Through the same Harris Bequest – the first formal accredited adult education college, the Harris Institute, took on the pioneering work of the Institute for the Diffusion of Knowledge, eventually becoming the University of Central Lancashire.

Image: Harris Institute