The Lancashire Evening Post, Wednesday, 1st January 2003

Preston's hidden church

By Emma Broom
A HIDDEN Preston landmark has been exposed by demolition men.

The Church of Our Lady of Victories, on East Cliff, near Winckley Square Preston, has been tucked away for decades as buildings sprung up all around.

But following the demolition of the former convent building, the historic chapel can once again be seen by passers-by.

Hidden Church of Our Lady of Victories
Resident priest Father Mathew Clifton of St Mary’s Priory, Ribblesdale Place, said: “The church is now very visible, which it hasn’t ever been.

“A lot of the old convent building has been changed into flats or demolished. Some has been changed into offices.

“It’s been life on a building site for a while but the convent is an important part of Preston’s heritage. It educated a lot of girls from Preston”.

However the landmark, run by the Society of Pius X and built in the 1930s, will only be a temporary site as rebuilding work is underway.

The Convent of the Holy Child Jesus opened in Winckley Square in 1875 when the nuns bought number 23 for educating Catholic Girls. The site is now occupied by Heathcotes Restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Paul Heathcote.

The nuns also rented number 22 until they were able to buy it in 1878 for £3000.

As the school prospered, the nuns acquired more property in Winckley Square, Ribbledale Place and Garden Street.

Between 1863 and 1969 the nuns taught 24,000 pupils at three schools.

They eventually moved out of the Winckley Square premises to Ribblesdale Place to provide more classroom space.

The reorganisation of secondary education in 1978 meant that Winckley Square Convent was absorbed into Newman College. Three years later it was closed and put up for sale.

Demolition of the wing of the convent and rebuilding is set to continue for the next six months.

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© The Lancashire Evening Post, January 2003