UCLan students are embarking on an ambitious project to bring attention to Preston’s diverse history, working in partnership with the Harris Museum and Art Gallery.
All students at the University, which has been granted £49,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund thanks to an application by UCLan Students’ Union, will have the opportunity over the next 19 months to take part in a multitude of exhibitions and workshops exploring the changing landscape of the city, gaining insight into local stories, and embracing the roots of political activism. Activities will include historical tours of the city, arts and theatre performances, workshops for schools and colleges, and a new digital initiative in the form of a ‘UCLan through the ages’ app for mobile. The hope is that, by taking part in this scheme, both students and the wider community can become more aware by the remarkable history of Preston. “Preston’s heritage offers a rich resource for education”, said Sara Hilton, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, “it’s wonderful to see it being used by UCLan in such an interesting way, giving the students involved the chance to explore and share Preston’s, and wider Lancashire’s, intriguing history with the public. This project has been made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players and we can’t wait to see what it achieves.”
From humble beginnings as an outpost for the Roman Empire, Preston flourished earlier than most modern settlements, and by the time of the 1086 Domesday Book was the wealthiest town in the whole county. The 19th Century saw the transformation of Preston from a small, prosperous market town to a large industrial powerhouse and a leader in innovation, which included being the first British town outside of London to be lit by gas. It was in this pioneering century also that UCLan found its roots in 1828 as the Institution for the Diffusion of Knowledge, the institution from which this project takes its name today.
Students’ Union Campaigns Officer, Lucy Haigh, has been involved since the start of the project having helped lead the bid to send to the Heritage Lottery Fund and is thrilled about the accepted application. “It’s fantastic, we’ve got a lot of money to do some great work while working alongside the local community in order to demonstrate the impact UCLan has had on Preston.”
Organising the future of the scheme from the side of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery is History Curator James Arnold. “This project is a fantastic opportunity to bring students into contact with Preston’s rich heritage through the collections at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery”, he said, “students will have the opportunity to use photographs and maps to look at the architectural heritage of Preston and the stories behind the intriguing objects on display and in storage.”
Alongside James, Tom Daly Activities and Participation Officer at UCLan Students’ Union will working on the project with the Green Ladder project with the aim for as many sports clubs and societies to be involved, “I’m very excited to continue on the amazing work done last year by Lucy (Campaigns Officer) and Stevie (former Education Officer), it’s something completely different to what I’m used to and I can’t wait to get stuck in with it!”
The project is called The Diffusion of Useful Knowledge – UCLan through the ages, and the first events are expected to take place towards the end of the year.