02 January 2009

England's first mosque to be rebuilt.

Ask most people the location of England's first mosque and you will get a blank expression. Some will probably say it is the Shah Jehan in Woking. In fact a small decrepit building on Brougham Terrace, Liverpool was the site of Britain's first mosque.

Although it has not been used as a place of worship for at least a century the historical site is to be rebuilt and restored by the Abdullah Quilliam Society. Henry William Quilliam (left) opened the mosque on Christmas day in 1889. He converted to Islam in 1887 after a visit to Morocco, adopting the name Abdullah. The building of his Islamic centre also included an orphanage as well as a printing press in the basement.

The new structure, when work is completed in 2011, will include the restored mosque, a new mosque, a courtyard, museum, art gallery, learning centre for interfaith work, library and cafe. Work is expected to start this month.

The mosque ceased to function when Quillam decided to go travelling in 1908. But almost 90 years later, Mohammad Akbar Ali, a retired doctor, decided to restore the historical structure and created the Abdullah Quilliam Society. Galib Khan, who is the current chairman of the Abdullah Quilliam Society said he hoped part of the building could be opened within the next six months.

He said: "It's a heritage site for us. This truly is the birthplace of Islam in England. We will start on the refurbishment once we have finalised the lease arrangements with the city council and want to make it into a heritage centre for Islamic culture and interfaith dialogue." A spokesman for English Heritage, the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment, said: "It is an immensely important monument to Islam in Britain and it is believed to be England's earliest mosque."

The refurbishment work is due to begin this month


YTSL said...

Interesting post. Would have thought that Britain's first mosque was the one at Regent's Park as it's the one I've heard the most about getting built!

Kay Dennison said...

How fascinating!!!!

jams o donnell said...

Thanks. It is one of those stories that piques my interest

Anonymous said...

England's first mosque yes, but Britain's first mosque was recorded in Cardiff in 1860

jams o donnell said...

Thanks, you're quite right Anonymous. I've amended the post