We did it! The Reader secures £2m HLF Funding.

The Reader at Calderstones secures £1.99million Heritage Lottery Fund investment

The Reader will begin work on creating their flagship International Centre for Reading inside Calderstones Mansion House in 2016, having secured a confirmed grant of £1.99million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Building on work that has already taken place on the site since 2013, the Reader at Calderstones project will restore and showcase the heritage of the Grade II listed Mansion House and the Neolithic monoliths known as The Calderstones. These forgotten treasures are older than the Pyramids and will now be brought back into the heart of Calderstones Park and their condition will be significantly improved. Liverpool City Council, National Museums Liverpool and Manchester University have all been consulted as part of the process.
Initial work will begin to secure the building which over the years has fallen into a state of disrepair. Currently hidden architecturally significant elements will be carefully revealed and restored, bringing the building back to life.
The finished building will house a heritage room which will show how one of the rooms may have looked in 1880 with visitors having the opportunity to interact with objects and learn about the history of the house at that time. There will also be four key reading rooms allowing The Reader to continue their shared reading groups, bringing people together to read great literature out loud as a practical way of improving wellbeing, building stronger communities and extending reading pleasure. A newly created bistro will also allow visitors to relax after their visit and soak up and reflect on the atmosphere of the house.
Dr Jane Davis, Director of The Reader says “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. It will allow us to grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something truly special at Calderstones for the city of Liverpool and beyond. Not only will this mean we can offer more of our reading groups and continue to grow our wellbeing initiatives here but we can carefully bring The Calderstones themselves back to their rightful place at the heart of the park to be enjoyed and cherished by visitors”
Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said: “The Reader is a real Liverpool success story that helps thousands of people get together to share their love of reading. We were hugely impressed by these proposals that will bring an exciting new use to the 19th century Mansion House and help many more people discover the history of the 4000 year old Calderstones. Special thanks must go to National Lottery players for making our investment possible.”

Lord Mayor calls on Liverpool to help bring Mansion House back to life

The people of Liverpool are being asked to volunteer their time, skills, and support to help The Reader transform Calderstones Mansion House into The International Centre for Shared Reading.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Gary Millar, co-hosted a special lunch event at the Mansion House bringing together professionals from the business, educational and cultural sectors to pledge their support and make the regeneration project a city-wide collaboration.

Liverpool City Council awarded The Reader ‘preferred bidder status’ for the building in January 2013 and they plan to regenerate it as a community hub where people from across Liverpool and beyond can come together to enjoy reading and wellbeing activities.

The Lord Mayor said:

“I was one of the 1200 people who visited Calderstones in April, when The Reader opened the doors for the first time in 30 years, and I am thrilled to see this much-loved building being brought back to life by a local social enterprise.

Reading is vital to our chances in life and everyone deserves the opportunity to discover the power of great books for themselves. The Reader will make this happen and the people of Liverpool are key to helping them achieve this.”

The Reader, who recently won the ‘Growth’ award at the Social Enterprise Network Powerful Together Awards, have already hosted touring performances from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a summer fair, and run four free shared reading groups a week for both adults and children at the Mansion House. They are the official partners in Mayor Joe Anderson’s City of Readers Campaign.

The funds for the project will be secured through social investors and national funding bodies, as well as the organisation’s own social enterprise activities. Creating local jobs and volunteering opportunities through sustainable not-for-profit businesses are central to their plans to develop an internationally recognised centre based on reading.

Jane Davis, MBE, founder and director of The Reader said:

“Our vision for Calderstones is a place with volunteering at its heart, where everyone can read, work, play, make new friends and find new opportunities.

The people of Liverpool have so much to offer, from donating books and unwanted furniture, sharing their skills, or simply giving an hour of their time. Together, we can create a Liverpool landmark which changes lives.”

International Centre for Shared Reading gets green light for development in Liverpool

The Reader, a national charitable social enterprise have this week signed a lease with Liverpool City Council for Calderstones Mansion House giving them residency for 125 years. The organisation, an award-winning charitable social enterprise works across the UK to connect people with great literature and with each other. They are dedicated to making it possible for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to enjoy and actively engage with literature on a deep and personal level.

Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Liverpool city council cabinet member for regeneration, said

“This is a major step forward for the Reader’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 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 go forward and make their proposals a reality to the enormous benefit of the city.”

The Reader have been working from within the building for 18 months after securing preferable bidder status in 2013. They have been welcoming visitors in their thousands including their readers alongside members of the community to events within the house such as their children’s literature festival, heritage tours and weekly shared reading groups.

They have also opened a thriving social enterprise café, re-opened both the garden theatre alongside the gallery, welcoming a variety of passionate local artists. However the signing of a lease means that they can now move ahead with their plans to develop the Mansion into an International Centre for Shared Reading, a home for readers.

The first phase of the development 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.

The Reader 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