A new chapter is about to begin for one of Liverpool’s most famous landmarks.
A community based company has been chosen by Liverpool City Council to operate the blitz-ruined St Luke’s church as a heritage attraction.
“St Luke’s Bombed Out Church Ltd” is to be given a 30 year lease to run St Luke’s, which suffered a direct hit in the May Blitz of 1941, as a distinctive space for arts and events, that supports the vulnerable and provides opportunities for volunteering.
The appointment follows a public consultation on the future use of the much loved, city centre war memorial after the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, made a commitment to secure its long term viability.
Following the month-long consultation a bidding process was launched to manage the 185-year-old, Grade II* listed church while it underwent a £500,000 restoration, jointly funded by the city council and Historic England, which completes at the end of May.
A report to the council’s Cabinet on Friday, 19 May will recommend the “community first vision” set out by Bombed Out Church Ltd be approved and that the roofless premises be re-opened to the public as soon as possible. The church gardens will be the first phase of the re-opening to the public.
As well as overseeing the repairs the city council has committed to install external feature lighting later this year to enhance the appearance of St Luke’s as a prominent historic landmark.
Bombed Out Church Ltd have also set out a plan to invest in the venue which, subject to heritage funding, could include reinstating the balcony in the nave, mezzanine floors in the vestries and potentially a glazed canopy in the chancel with the nave remaining open to the elements.
Mayor Anderson said: “I grew up in the area around St Luke’s and its history and symbolism is something that is very close to my heart as it is for generations of Liverpudlians. I gave a commitment that this beautiful building will always belong to the people of Liverpool but it is not enough just to preserve it.
“As one of the architectural centrepieces of our city and as a defining memorial to the blitz it is a unique asset and should be celebrated as such. Now that the restoration phase has completed the goal now is to ensure it is treasured by future generations.”
Ambrose Reynolds, Director of Bombed Out Church Ltd, said he aims to ensure St Luke’s will continue to be primarily a heritage attraction, war memorial and creative events space.
Ambrose, who has been running the church since 2007, will to continue host exhibitions, theatre, music, classic cinema, weddings, parties, festivals and corporate events. Volunteering and educational training opportunities will be promoted through these activities in partnership with other agencies.
Ambrose added: “I’m over the moon to have been given the chance to continue to operate St Luke’s. I want to make it a space that everyone can enjoy. I can’t wait to get going and we’ve already got some great events lined up to host in the gardens.”
A particular emphasis is to be placed upon inclusivity including working with the homeless, people in recovery from drug and alcohol misuse, mental illness and veterans with appropriate links to existing service providers.
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, added: “The importance of community involvement emerged as a key theme in the public consultation and the Bombed Out Church Ltd proposal was the most closely aligned to what we all want to see take place at St Luke’s.
“The city council believe that Bombed Out Church Ltd are best placed to bring St Luke’s forward into a new chapter with a greater degree of accountability, community involvement and operational sustainability. We look forward to working with them and helping to make St Luke’s a vibrant and unique space in the heart of our city centre.”