‘Bombed Out Church’ sale uproar

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St Luke's Church. Pic: Laura Ryder

St Luke’s Church. Pic: Laura Ryder

More than 25,000 people have signed a petition to save St Luke’s Church from being sold by the council to a private company.

The famous ‘Bombed Out Church’ on Leece Street is currently owned by Liverpool City Council, which says it is struggling to afford the cost of maintaining the site, which stands as a lasting memorial to those who died during World War II.

The campaign to save it was launched at the weekend after it was announced that the council were in talks with a local business, which are looking to take over the Church so they can use it for wedding venues.

The church, which was built between 1811 and 1832, was badly damaged and reduced to a shell during The Blitz raids on the city in May 1941 after a Luftwaffe bomb left the surrounding streets engulfed by raging fires.

It is currently being used by arts group Urban Strawberry Lunch and Yoko Ono, widow of the late John Lennon, is one of those who have spoken out against its proposed sale. Her own artwork has been exhibited there in the past.

Many comments on why the ‘Bombed Out Church’ should be saved have been left on the 38 degrees e-petition. One under the name of Terry said: “St Luke’s is recognised throughout the world and there is not one Scouser who doesn’t know about it or walked past it or around in their lifetime. It MUST be saved.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeuKQ1YDfvA

Another from Susan read: “The church stands as a symbol not only for the loss of life during WWII but as a symbol of hope for the future and how our wonderful city rose from the ashes! It is a monument to a brave city and resilient people!”

As the news of the possible sale of the church broke, Mayor Joe Anderson released a statement. It said: “Let’s be clear, I am not selling the church to become flats or houses. I am willing to look at a proposal with an open mind and make a judgement based on the offer.

“Having no money will mean that we can no longer do as much as we would like that’s why I am open to alternatives to ensure that St Luke’s remains and will remain with us for a long time.”

Mayor Anderson later clarified his comments as he said: “It has got to be maintained and looked after and if we can use people and work with people in a partnership that protects the integrity of the building then we should look at that.

Bold Street. Pic by JMU Journalism

St Luke’s Church stands at the top of Bold Street. Pic by JMU Journalism

“It’s not going to change to the extent that people will be angry and upset about it. It’s not going to go anywhere, we want to protect it.”

He added: “If we can use the inside of the building in a way that protects it and brings in revenue to further protect it then that’s what we will do.”

Urban Strawberry Lunch also released a statement to help ease the public’s fears, saying: “We will soon be announcing firm plans to set up a Friends of St Luke’s and take up ownership of the church if and when it comes up for sale. We have been assured by the mayor’s office that we can have first option on the purchase of St Luke’s.”

About Niall Dudley, JMU Journalism