Completion of the £14m project was originally expected in spring 2024 but it has now been put back to spring 2025.
Preston City Council, which owns the Grade I listed museum and library building, said that works had been rescheduled after uncovering “the secrets of a 130-year-old heritage building”.
During construction work, The Harris has revealed additional fire protection works, large-scale asbestos removal and boiler replacements are necessary.
Conlon Construction chairman Michael Conlon said: “Together with Preston City Council and designers, we have an outstanding project team. We’re all committed to delivering an exceptional visitor experience that honours one of our city’s most culturally significant landmarks. It’s a rare privilege to act as custodians during the restoration of such an important Grade I listed building.
“As has often been the case in our experience with numerous heritage projects, the 130-year-old building has revealed some hidden secrets. These will require careful and sympathetic attention to ensure its preservation for future generations. The final result will be remarkable, and we’re all focused on ensuring The Harris, known and loved by the people of Preston, continues to play a crucial role in the city’s future.”
Councillor Peter Kelly, cabinet member for arts and culture at Preston City Council, said: “The council fully supports The Harris’ decision to extend the reopening date. We recognise the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, and this extension ensures that the necessary work can be completed to the highest standards. We appreciate the public’s continued support and patience as we work diligently to ensure a long and ambitious future, accessible for all.”
In addition to the preservation efforts, The Harris acknowledges previous plans for an additional lift and the challenges in accommodating it within existing foundations. With the additional lift removed from the project design, The Harris is working on a comprehensive set of access improvements to benefit a wider range of visitors to address accessibility, drawing on the experience of project access consultants Direct Access. The new public stairwell and circulation point remain integral to these, as do the new changing place facility and accessible toilet efforts.