Bluecoat celebrated the 300th anniversary of the laying of the building’s foundation stone on Tuesday 3 May 2016. The date marked 300 years since construction began on the iconic building in 1716.
The historical event was celebrated with a visit from special guests including the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Tony Concepcion, and the Rector of Liverpool, Reverend Dr Crispin Pailing. The visitors represented their early eighteenth-century counterparts William Squire, who was Lord Mayor, and Reverend Thomas Bell, Rector of Liverpool.
It was Bell’s predecessor, Reverend Robert Styth, who together with master mariner Bryan Blundell founded the school in 1708 on a site opposite the present building. Blundell largely funded construction of the new building and continued to support the school for the rest of his life.
The event preceded 2017 when Bluecoat will celebrate 300 years since the dedication of its building in 1717, which began as a charity school and went on to become the UK’s first arts centre. The tercentenary will be commemorated with a celebratory programme of special exhibitions and events over a period of 300 days throughout 2017, running from 4 February to 29 November.
Ahead of the 2017 celebrations Bluecoat will also invite the public to share their own memories of the building as part of an ambitious project called My Bluecoat. Thanks to National Lottery funding, this major initiative will digitise the archives held at Bluecoat, Liverpool Record Office, the current Blue Coat School in Wavertree, and elsewhere, bringing these fascinating records together for the first time alongside memories from the public. Visitors can share their memories of Bluecoat by filling in a card at the venue, or via Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #MyBluecoat.
Gavin Davenport, Project Manager for My Bluecoat said: “It was very exciting to welcome Tony Concepcion and Crispin Pailing to Bluecoat, as their counterparts played such an important role in founding the building. Bluecoat is a very special building that has reflected many of the changes Liverpool as a city has gone through over the years, and the anniversary of the laying of its foundation stone is a great opportunity to celebrate its significance and its history.
“It’s also very exciting for us to begin gathering people’s memories of Bluecoat through the My Bluecoat project, ahead of our tercentenary celebrations in 2017. We know people will have many varied and interesting recollections of the building, and we hope to use these to help build a rich and comprehensive history of Bluecoat.”
Bluecoat is Liverpool city centre’s oldest building, Grade One Listed and located
within the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built in the Queen Anne-style, Bluecoat has been in almost continuous use since
1717. As a charity school for nearly 200 years, then a centre for the arts for over 100
years, the building has a long, symbiotic relationship to Liverpool and its people. It is
an active symbol of the city’s cultural heritage, its presence a reminder of the port’s
origins and mercantile, maritime growth.
My Bluecoat is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Since it was founded in 1994, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £6.8billion to over 39,000 projects. HLF was set up to distribute money raised by the National Lottery to projects that make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities. A further £182,600 has been earmarked by HLF for My Bluecoat, to be awarded at a later date and subject to a second round application.