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National Museums Podcast explores how St Luke’s ‘Bombed out Church’ went from ‘ruin to renaissance’

2 months ago

National Museums Podcast explores how St Luke’s ‘Bombed out Church’ went from ‘ruin to renaissance’

In the latest episode, the National Museums Liverpool Podcast looks at the story of how a group of punk rockers saved St Luke’s church, with former caretaker and creative director Ambrose Reynolds.

St. Luke’s Church, or as it is commonly known in Liverpool, the Bombed Out Church, is a focal point in the city centre for summer drinks, markets, film screenings and theatre shows, all under open skies.

Consecrated in 1831, the church suffered huge damage during the May Blitz of 1941, with the interior and roof structure almost entirely destroyed. Fast forward to 1965 and the still dilapidated church would often catch the eye of our guest, musician and artist, Ambrose Reynolds.  

This is the story of how Reynolds and his band, Urban Strawberry Lunch, turned a ‘managed ruin’ into a thriving cultural hub; a public space that embodied the principles of equality, fraternity, and liberty.

Ambrose Reynolds is an English musician and artist who formed part of the 70s and 80s musical scene in Liverpool, playing bass in various bands. This included O’Boogie Brothers with Ian Broudie, Big in Japan and Pete Burns’ Nightmares on Wax. He also formed Ded Byrds, Pink Industry and a band with Holly Johnson called Frankie Goes to Hollywood, before Johnson went on to form the famous band of the same name.

In 1987, Reynolds formed Urban Strawberry Lunch with BF Tin, specialising in making and playing music on recycled materials. Urban Strawberry Lunch have gone through many line-up changes but Reynolds is still active in the band.

Between 2003 and 2014, Reynolds and Urban Strawberry Lunch worked in Liverpool’s Bombed out Church, St. Luke’s, regenerating the ruined building through the arts, presenting music, exhibitions, poetry, dance, outdoor film screenings and weddings.

In this episode, Ambrose talks about taking over and maintaining the building, working with the homeless community, inviting international artists to the church and keeping a Liverpool landmark alive.

Bombed Out Church: from ruin to renaissance is available here, or search ‘National Museums Podcast’ on other podcast platforms.

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