Of course, there are many mosques around the country which are fully compliant with planning law. But the first mosque in Britain – opened at Brougham Terrace in Liverpool in 1889 by Abdullah Quilliam, had fallen out of use as a mosque for almost a century. It is being brought back into use, alongside a restoration of its historic fabric, and our headline refers to the confirmation of planning and listed building consent for the project.
The building functioned as a mosque for about twenty years, under the leadership of the controversial lawyer Abdullah (originally William Henry) Quilliam until he was driven from Liverpool by an antagonistic public. The buildings were acquired by the City Council, and functioned as their Register Office until the beginning of the 21st century. When they moved out, a society was formed with the aim of preserving and restoring this important part of UK multicultural history. By the time they were granted control of the buildings, petty criminals had stripped off much of the lead from the roofs, and the interior was suffering from a great deal of wood rot and other damage.
G Squared Architecture has been involved throughout this process, developing the proposals for the buildings’ changing functions, as well as finding ways to preserve and restore the original fabric, or in some cases to devise sympathetic alterations. The buildings comprised 3 large (5 floor) interconnected terraced houses as well as the prayer hall, where a wide variety of fine details had survived until the rain got in. The complex planning approval involved coming to agreement with the city’s conservation experts on what must be preserved, what should be recreated and what could be changed to meet today’s demands.
The restoration work has proceeded alongside the approval process, and continues today.