The last bomb-site in Liverpool, St Luke’s is testament to the brave people who lived and died during the May Blitz of 1941; as such it carries with it the legacy of those who formed the congregation and community for over a century before the start of the Second World War.
As an iconic, highly visible building in a gateway area it also has significance in Liverpool’s post-war history and a special place in people’s lives. Reopening the building to the public has meant commemorating the past while celebrating the future. This ethos has shaped the work of Ambrose Reynolds and the Bombed Out Church team from the outset, inspiring them to develop projects and events that make history incarnate.
Even before Ambrose Reynolds was granted custody of St Luke’s by Liverpool City Council, he had begun to establish the Finest Hour Sound Archive, recording the memories of those who witnessed the Blitz through interview. The project also entailed training young people in interview technique and organising them to interview the Blitz witnesses, bridging generations through storytelling and documentation. Running from 2003-2008, the Finest Hour Sound Archive includes over 135 hours of oral history interviews of the Blitz. Sadly many of the interviewees are no longer with us, making their stories even more poignant. A new microsite for the sound archive is currently under development.
In addition to the Sound Archive, the Finest Hour project included an annual event in commemoration of the May Blitz, begun in 2003 in collaboration with LIPA and ending in 2005 in association with the Wirral Youth Theatre. Annual commemorative events for the Blitz, First and Second World Wars continue alongside regular historical exhibitions of documents and artefacts.
Designed to be both an Anglican Church and a concert hall, St Luke’s originally functioned in both capacities. Today, the Bombed Out Church continues to celebrate this legacy as a living memorial; our programme is thematically curated to be of relevance to St Luke’s and Liverpool in diverse ways, through theatre, music, art and cinema. Integrating life in Liverpool with history, the city's heritage and present day use are inherently part of one another.