We have been working within the Mansion House for 18 months since securing preferred bidder status from Liverpool City Council in January 2013. Since then, we’ve been welcoming thousands of visitors of all ages to enjoy shared reading groups, heritage tours and special events all aimed at creating a model reading community, the first of its kind in the UK – somewhere for people to read, learn, play, make new friends, find new opportunities and feel at home.
Other significant steps in the regeneration of the Mansion House have included opening a thriving social enterprise cafe, reopening the Gallery space to host passionate local artists and utilising the beautiful ‘secret garden’ of the Mansion House for theatre productions by Shakespeare’s Globe and other companies, as well as for our first Children’s Literature Festival. You can keep updated with all the current activity at Calderstones on our website: http://www.thereader.org.uk/calderstones
The signing of the lease means that we are able to start the next exciting stages of redevelopment, which will include working with members of the community to raise funds for vital mansion refurbishment, as well as working together to make sure local voices who feel a connection with the building are heard in the process. The project will need to acquire funding of £4 Million and has already secured a first stage Heritage Lottery Fund grant alongside a Social Investment Business feasibility grant.
We have been incredibly lucky to have the support of the community as well as Liverpool City Council in the first stage of this journey:
“This is a major step forward for the Reader Organisation’s plans for the Mansion House. It will enable them to press on with their exciting proposals to develop the building. We wanted the Mansion House to be taken over by an organisation that would bring it back into use in very positive manner and would protect its future. The work that the Reader Organisation are doing alongside us and the local community will ensure that happens. We are confident that by granting them this lease it will help the Reader Organisation go forward and make their proposals a reality to the enormous benefit of the city.” – Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Liverpool city council cabinet member for regeneration
We are thrilled to have reached this stage and continue to develop the prospects for the Mansion House, Stables and surrounding buildings. Current future plans include the possibility of a bistro, accommodation for literary residencies, and the restoration of the much loved garden theatre. The Mansion House will continue to be open to the public whilst it undergoes future changes, not only with its shared reading groups but with rentable offices, catered events spaces and regular seasonal events.
‘This is a key milestone in the development of The Reader at Calderstones. We are very pleased that Liverpool City Council have confidence in our vision for the Mansion House and have backed it with a 125 year lease. Whilst the building will undergo a significant refurbishment over the coming years – we are very much open for business – you can attend shared reading groups, visit the café and gallery, rent event and office spaces – please come and visit the house!’ Dr Jane Davis, Founder and Director, The Reader Organisation
We’re just about to move our Head Office to Calderstones, so all systems are go for a bright future to begin for Readers across Liverpool and the rest of the country.