Liverpool to sign over historic mosque for heritage centre

Liverpool City Council is to transfer its ownership of the site of England’s first mosque to support the development of an Islamic Heritage and Enterprise Centre.

A report to the council’s cabinet, which met on Friday, recommended the council transfer the freehold lease of the grade two-listed premises at 8-10 Brougham Terrace in Kensington, to the Abdullah Quilliam Society.

The charity aims to celebrate the life of William Henry Quilliam, a Liverpool solicitor who converted to Islam in 1887 and created “the birthplace of British Islam,” when he established England’s first fully functional mosque and Islamic centre in 1889 at 8 Brougham Terrace.

Renamed Abdullah Quilliam, he set up the Liverpool Muslim Institute, which also housed an orphanage, school and publishing house, and is regarded as one of the most influential Muslim converts and important figures in the history of Islam in Britain.

After the mosque closed in 1910, it was then used as the city’s registry office for births, deaths and marriages until the office moved.

Since 2006 the AQS has steadily refurbished the three, five-storey terraced buildings at a cost of £1.2m, providing a new roof, removing asbestos, installing CCTV and various internal works which led to the historic mosque re-opening in June 2014 after 104 years of closure.

The charity has thus far operated on two-year leases. The transfer of the freehold lease will enable AQS to continue to operate the property as a mosque, as well as operate a training centre with upper floor rented residential accommodation, and would enable them to draw down additional funding to develop a museum, visitor centre, library and study facilities to celebrate the life and era of Quilliam, to open in summer 2019.

Cllr Alice Bennett, mayoral lead for heritage, said: “Liverpool’s role in the development of Islam in Britain is a fascinating story and this new heritage centre will shine a light on an over-looked part of Victorian society.

“The world knows a great deal about Liverpool’s position as the second city of the British Empire and all the different communities who flourished here and made Liverpool one of the world’s first cosmopolitan cities.

“These plans of the AQS to celebrate his life through this new museum and heritage centre will be a fantastic addition to our cultural and heritage offer and the facilities and training services will be invaluable to the local community. The work they have done this past decade has laid great foundations.”

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