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” is headed by Ambrose Reynolds, who has been managing the church since 2007. It will be given a 30-year lease to run St Luke’s, which suffered a direct hit in the May Blitz of 1941, as an arts and events space that supports the vulnerable and provides opportunities for volunteering.
As the site’s freeholder, the council committed to keeping the 185-year-old, grade two-listed church in public ownership in 2015. A month-long consultation on the site’s future received over 6,000 responses, leading to a bidding process to manage the facility.
Since October 2015, St Luke’s has been undergoing a £500,000 restoration programme, which completes at the end of May.
A report to the council’s cabinet on 19 May will recommend the “community first vision” set out by Bombed Out Church be approved and that the roofless premises be re-opened to the public as soon as possible.
The church gardens will be the first area to be reopened to the public, while the council has committed funding to install external feature lighting later this year. Subject to heritage funding, potential changes outlined by the new operator include reinstating the balcomy in the nave, mezzanine floors in the vestries and a glazed canopy in the chancel.
Reynolds said the venue will continue to 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.
He said: “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.
Cllr 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.”