Work to redevelop the Grade II-listed Calderstones Mansion House has begun.
Hoardings and scaffolding have been erected around the building at the heart of the park as builders from John Turner Construction Group arrive on site to complete the multi-million-pound project which will transform the Mansion House into The Reader’s International Centre for Shared Reading.
The charity, which aims to get great literature into the hands of people who need it most, has been based in Calderstones Park since September 2014 and has secured major funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, Liverpool City Council and private funders to bring the Mansion House back to life as a community hub built on reading and well-being activity.
Phase One of this ambitious project was completed in 2015 with the opening of the much–loved children’s literature centre, The Storybarn, and The Reader Ice Cream Parlour, a new social enterprise, in the courtyard at Calderstones Park.
The Mansion House closed its doors to the public in early 2017 to allow Phase Two to get underway. Park users will have noticed an increase in activity on site in recent months as the popular Reader Café moved into a temporary building in the courtyard and the arrival of a temporary toilet block which will allow much-needed repairs to get underway at the Mansion House.
Dr Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader, said: “It’s fantastic to see fences up and builders on site. So much of the planning and the work so far has happened behind the scenes, now that park users can see the signs of progress, the excitement has gone up a notch.
“Now we can really focus on what Calderstones is going to be when the doors open again next year – a community based around readers, the rich heritage of the site and the experience of nature offered by the park. It will be a place where you can learn, get involved, meet other people, and build relationships.
“There will be readers and reading rooms, wellbeing activities, heritage, volunteering, food and fun all within a beautiful public park. And our social enterprises will continue to generate jobs and volunteering opportunities. All these things will be held together by the ideal of a warm, kind, connected, lively community of readers.”
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said: “We know that reading is crucial for a child’s development and that reading for pleasure can provide a wealth of opportunities for people, whatever their age or background.
“What The Reader is creating here at Calderstones Mansion House is fantastic – it will give people the chance to discover reading for pleasure and for better health and wellbeing, but it will also create jobs, volunteering and learning opportunities. It will be fantastic to see this beautiful building brought back to life.”
The International Centre for Shared Reading will celebrate the history and rich heritage of the Mansion House, built in 1828 for Joseph Need Walker and later owned by the McIver family of Cunard Shipping, and of the park itself.
The Reader can confirm that the Calder Stones, the internationally important Neolithic monuments which once formed part of a chambered tomb and give the park its name, will be temporarily taken off-site for conservation and cleaning work. The Stones, which are currently housed in a glasshouse in the park, will return to take pride of place at the centre of a new heritage offer in time for estimated project completion in Spring 2019.
With building work underway there will be an increase in traffic on site but wherever possible this will occur during quieter times in the park. The Reader hopes to keep disruption for park users to a minimum and welcome any questions or concerns from the local community. There are also opportunities for the local community to be apart of this project, The Reader invites anyone who is interested in supporting the project as a volunteer or donor to get in touch.