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Echoes and Origins of Liverpool Bluecoat History explored in new project

Liverpool’s Bluecoat is launching a new project which invites young people to explore its origins and the city’s colonial legacy and how that then connects to life today.

Echoes and Origins will create opportunities for a dance artist, creative writers and young people, as well as a new project facilitator role.

The Blue Coat Hospital School was co-founded by Bryan Blundell and the Rev Robert Styth in 1708 as a charity school for orphaned boys. The school moved into the Bluecoat Chambers in 1717, and the School Lane building is now the oldest still existing in the city centre.

Blundell, who was the school’s principal benefactor, was a master mariner and slave trader, and later Mayor of Liverpool.

Bryan Biggs, Bluecoat’s Director of Cultural Legacies, said: “Echoes and Origins will illuminate how stories from Liverpool’s trading and philanthropic heritage resonate today.

“It will bring 300 years of history into the present and give a group of young people an opportunity to share their different perspectives and alternative ways of looking at history.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund-backed Echoes and Origins will be split into two parts, with the first strand focusing on Colonial Legacies.

Its starting point is the grade I listed building’s connections to the sea through the Liverpool merchants who supported the school using profits derived from trade with Africa and the British colonies, including the transatlantic slave trade and goods grown and harvested by slaves.

Bluecoat will work with young people from the Greenhouse Project in Toxteth to explore some of the stories of the building including colonialism and the empire, slavery, migration, diaspora, independence, race and identity, carried out through discussions, creative activities and research.

The project will culminate in a public programme of events and activities staged at Bluecoat, Greenhouse and online in early 2022.

The second strand will focus on Looked After Children, considering Bluecoat’s original philanthropic purpose as an educational institution set up to help the town’s poor and destitute children.

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