Our grant from The National Archives

News
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Helping to scope out the future from the past  

Liverpool Cathedral has been awarded a grant from the National Archive to work out the best approach to making our archives available to the public and cared for so future generations continue to enjoy them.   

As one of the few cathedrals built in living memory, our archives document not only the duration of our building but a way of life in the city in the recent past.   

Many of the people who work, volunteer, and visit remember the building of Liverpool Cathedral and subsequent completion; or know someone who does. Because of this, there are people across the city who feel a strong emotional attachment to us.   

Dean of Liverpool, Dr Sue Jones said:    

“As we prepare to celebrate the centenary of the consecration of the Cathedral in 2024; the grant from the National Archive enables us to carry our tradition of encounter for future generations while remembering our past.”   

Preserving Liverpool Cathedral archives is vital so we don’t lose the memory of the first 100 years; to hand it on to the next generation for their safekeeping.   

Canon Val Jackson, MBE, who over the last 18 years has led a team of volunteers cataloguing and organising the archives, said:    

“We want to ensure we properly steward and safeguard our archive collections for the next hundred years and beyond. Thanks to this grant, we can investigate the best way to do this.”   

She set up the archive in 2003, acquiring boxes of unsorted papers, photographs, and service sheets from various Cathedral departments and offices. This collection covers the Cathedral from 1900 to the present day, with material regularly added. For instance, a paper dove from our recent mass-participation art installation, ‘Peace Doves’, by Peter Walker in 2021.  

The collection consists of a vast array of records: photographs, architectural drawings, service booklets, letters, audio files, sheet music, and objects. From original Edward Carter Preston 20th century statue maquettes to over 4000 architectural drawings from 1904 to the 1970s, reflecting the evolving architectural process. The earliest of these are hand-drawn and signed by Scott and Bodley, the original architects; while later ones are computer-generated.  

There are also facsimile prints of the 1904 architectural competition entries, which Giles Gilbert Scott won. Around 50 boxes containing black and white photographs by Stewart Bale document the building of the Cathedral; totalling over 30,000 individual images.  

Our archives hold significant visitors’ books and books of condolence, including the Hillsborough disaster and the death of Princess Diana. There is also a collection of ecclesiastical embroidery housed in a special gallery.  

Some archive items have been digitised. This includes 750 large original architectural drawings and around 15,000 of the Stewart Bale photographic collection. Our archive team chose these items for digitisation because of their fragile nature and historical significance.  

We are one of just three organisations to receive an Archives Revealed scoping grant in March 2022. This grant is awarded by The National Archive with support from funders: the Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation. Other successful bidders were Deaf History Scotland and The Scottish Music Centre. 

The grant enables us to appoint a verified consultant who will produce a report after assessing the archives to see how Liverpool can ensure they are maintained and are accessible to the public.