1. Invest Preston
  2. Preston Markets

Preston Street Songs Exhibition

Ballad sheets by John Harkness
Exhibition dates1 May - 15 July 2023
Time8am - 5pm

Preston Markets are displaying 16 reproductions of ballad sheets printed in Preston by John Harkness.

The display contains 30 songs which are rare survivors as they were printed on fragile paper, and give a fascinating glimpse into street culture in Preston more than 150 years ago.

Harkness began printing the ballads in around 1842 and carried on until at least 1896. He was based in a number of premises in Preston including 8 Water Street (now Manchester Road) and 121 Church Street. The Ballads were published in Preston but also sent for sale in places like Carlisle, Liverpool and London.

About the Harkness collection

The whole Harkness collection is made up of more than 1000 Victorian street ballads, all printed in Preston. At the time, these poems and songs were a cheap way to spread information and provide amusement to the people of Preston and further afield.

They cover a wide range of subjects including comic tales, love stories, tragedies, brief histories and songs about Preston. The ballads mention some Preston places such as the gaol, Preston Guild and Preston Races.

Preston Street Songs Performance

This exhibition that returns the songs to the streets has been curated by second year UCLan students doing a Community History module. There will also be a Preston Street Songs Performance on 10 June at Preston Markets, from 2pm.

For details visit Preston Market - Street Songs Performance.

Map address for Preston Markets

Preston Markets, Earl Street, Preston, PR1 2JA.