The history of the iconic former Littlewoods building on Edge Lane is set to be forever captured by Liverpool John Moores University and Metal, in collaboration with CAPITAL&CENTRIC.
With funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will document the building’s rich and fascinating social history telling the story of working life in the 20th century.
Built in 1938, and still a striking landmark at the gateway to the city, the building was home to the Littlewoods Pools for 60 years.
Over 30,000 employees worked for the family-run business at its peak, rendering it integral to the heart and history of the local community. John and Cecil Moores garnered a reputation for genuinely caring for their workforce, ensuring that they were paid the highest wage in Liverpool and organising mass employee outings to seaside resorts.
The Edge Lane building was commandeered during World War II when, other than the American military, it became the largest global manufacturer of parachutes and printed 17 million conscription documents. It was also used to intercept all international mail leaving and entering the UK, in an attempt to break enemy codes and protect national secrets.
Having laid derelict for years, the building was purchased by the city council and then sold to developers CAPITAL&CENTRIC so it could become the new home for the big and small screen with plans to create a Hollywood standard filming complex.
CAPITAL&CENTRIC, owners of the building, are planning the £50 million ‘Littlewoods Studios’ with the UK’s oldest film studios, Twickenham, the anchor tenant.
Despite a fire that devastated part of the building last year, the plans for new development alongside the restored art deco building are on track with work expected to start on site by the end of the year.
The planned intergenerational heritage project will record and interpret the rich history of the building, which is at risk of being forgotten. Thanks to National Lottery players and a £48,100 grant, a team of academics, artists, volunteers and former employees will revivify the building’s past through interviews, workshops, events and screenings.
The heritage will be preserved on a website and smart technology will be installed on-site, enabling access to incredible stories of the building’s past; stories which still resonate today.
Ruth Doughty, Liverpool John Moores University said: “The Littlewoods empire has left an important legacy in Liverpool and beyond. The building itself reveals how working life transformed throughout the 20th Century. So many local people have a personal connection to the building. We’re looking to record memories from former employees; stories that reveal what it was like to work for Littlewoods at the Edge Lane site. It is important that we capture these memories before this history is lost.”
A launch event will be held at the Redmond Building, Liverpool John Moores University on 4th July 6-8pm. This free event is open to all former employees and those with an interest in the project. For more information and to register https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/littlewoods-heritage-project-launch-tickets-63648902581
As part of the project arts organisation Metal are leading an open call for a filmmaker, who will collaborate with local writer Jeff Young, to create a new artwork for the Littlewoods Studios launch. For more information and to apply visit www.metalculture.com/projects/Littlewoods
Jenny Porter, Metal Culture said: “We’re delighted to be involved in celebrating the history of the Littlewoods building. This is a community project and we’re looking for local filmmakers to get involved and help create an artwork that will be on display in the new Littlewoods Studios.”
John Moffat, CAPITAL&CENTRIC said: “As we set about restoring the building it’s always been really important to us that we celebrate its amazing history. Littlewoods is one of Liverpool’s most loved buildings and we can’t wait to create something that gives it the same buzz and excitement that it used to have. We’ll be creating jobs and opportunities for generations to come, helping to regenerate this part of the city and give the building the future it deserves.”
Lynne McCarrick, who worked for Littlewoods in the 1960s said: “Littlewoods is in the DNA of many generations in this country. Everyone knows, or knows of, someone who worked there. So many are actually related to former employees, whose stories of the fun and care we enjoyed at Littlewoods, continue to be shared down the generations. I feel it is essential that we preserve the memories as well as the building, the details as well as the bricks.”
Got a Littlewoods memory? Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/LittlewoodsHeritage/