Although somewhat unprepossessing (if not dour) on the outside this museum is an excellent repository of the history of the county, much as the county itself. Designed by Thomas Rickman in the Neo-Classical style, building of the courthouse began in 1825. Baines' 1825 History and Directory of Lancashire comments that, 'The prison is on a very large scale, but the Court-house, which is inconveniently situated in the centre of the building, is not sufficiently commodious, and at the general session for the county, held by adjournment on 9 September 1824, the sum of ten thousand pounds was voted by magistrates, for the erection of a new court-house and records office, which are to be placed outside the walls of the present gaol'. Hewitson, in his History of Preston states that the building was erected in 1829 and refers to Mr Rickman as the architect. He goes on to add that a new dome was added in 1849 and in 1870, due to the dangerous state of the dome it was replaced by a ceiling light. It is now one of the oldest remaining buildings in Preston. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry and the 14th/20th Kings Hussars.
Lancashire Through Time exhibits the County's archeological collections including 4,000-year-old Stone Age axes, Roman artefacts and early industrial items. Lancashire at Play contains highlights including part of the Hylda Baker costume collection and Les Dawson, George Formby and Gracie Fields material. The Lancashire People Gallery focuses on the Lancashire identity and comprises items loaned by members of the public revealing some exceptional hidden histories. Lancashire Law and Order reveals the building's court house heritage. Responsible for the trials of petty criminals between 1827 to around 1900, the Chairman of the Court, Thomas Batty Addison earned the name of the Terror of the Criminal for his no nonsense approach. This gallery also includes items from the Lancashire Constabulary Police collection, charting the development of the force from 1839 to the present day. Lancashire at Work highlights the range of industries Lancashire has embraced from agriculture to textiles, maritime to engineering trades, not to mention Holland's pies and Uncle Joe's mint balls! Lancashire Goes to War is dominated by an impressive and atmospheric World War I trench. It also displays information about the role of women during the war and how we remember our fallen heroes. Other interactive galleries include life on the homefront in World War II, and a Victorian classroom. The museum has ramped access to the main entrance and a combination of platform lifts and chair lifts to the upper floors. Hearing loops are installed in the reception area and galleries where sound is provided. The museum encourages sensory experiences with displays incorporating sounds, smells and hands on elements. Many of the museum exhibits can be touched and visitors are encouraged to do so. There are accessible toilets.
Location : Stanley Street, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 4YP
Transport: Preston (National Rail). Bus routes Buses 1, 8, 9 and 11 stop close to the museum.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday 10:30 to 17:00
Opening Times: Sunday 12:00 to 17:00
Tel: 01772 534075