A testament to community spirit.
St Luke’s Church, known locally as the ‘Bombed Out Church’, suffered catastrophic damage during the May Blitz of 1941, leaving only its external masonry standing.
Overgrown and inaccessible, the site lay derelict for over 60 years, before being cleared, and transformed by a series of cultural events, reopening the space to the public.
Having become an established venue for theatre, dance, classical and world music, visual art, cinema, and spoken word, as well as alternate and participatory forms of work, the site now stands as a testament to community spirit and the power of the arts to affect change - a living, working monument to the people of Liverpool.
The ongoing story is one of hope and transformation.
Built between 1811 and 1832, St Luke’s was designed by father and son, John Foster, Senior and John Foster Junior. In Addition to being a parish church, it also functioned as a concert hall until 1849.
Just after midnight, on May 6th 1941, during the May Blitz of WWII, the church was hit by an incendiary device. The large fire that ensued swept through the building, causing its stained glass to burst from within, its roof to collapse, and several of its bells to cascade down the tower to the ground.
Ultimately, having endured for several days, the blaze left little more than the church’s stonework standing. In the aftermath of the war, St Luke’s was left in its ruined state as a memorial to casualties in the armed forces and the civilian population.
Today, almost 80 years later, the church has become an iconic arts venue and community space. Following a series of innovative installations within St Luke’s, it was reopened to the public in 2007, and has since played host to a phenomenal range of arts and cultural events, as well as community and wellbeing activities.
The story of St Luke’s regeneration exemplifies the power of the arts to affect change; organised events onsite allow attendees to relate to this story and become aware of the ways in which art and creative expression can enrich and transform their own lives in turn.
As a Grade 2 listed building and registered war memorial, the building also makes a tremendous contribution to Liverpool’s heritage, while standing testament to the fortitude of the city’s community, and in memory those who have lost their lives due to the effects of war.
St Luke’s is set to provide meaningful opportunities for participation with the arts and culture, and a safe haven for community activities for many years to come.
With its future secured, focus at the church turns toward developing opportunities for education. A programme to create 20 new volunteer roles aims to engage local communities in the facilitation of cultural activities at St Luke's, in a way that is dedicated to the personal development of the volunteers involved.
Improvements to the site, such as better facilities and accessibility, a play area for children, and a community led school’s vegetable garden will further establish St Luke’s as an engaging, family friendly and welcoming space.