Liverpool’s Florence Institute was announced as the winner of the Best Rescue of a Historic Building or Place award, sponsored by Keymer, at the Historic England Angel Awards 2018. The award recognises volunteers and professionals, individuals and groups who have rescued a historic building, place, landscape or site.
As the oldest surviving purpose-built boys’ club in Britain, The Florrie provided safe recreation to boys from poor communities in south Liverpool for a century, from 1889. These same communities led the long struggle to not only facilitate the restoration of the building to its original grandeur, but to make the building usable for local people once again.
The Florence Institute Trust Ltd was set up in 2005, chaired by the bishop of Liverpool, the Reverend James Jones. He led the campaign to reopen The Florrie as a community training and events venue. In 2006, the Prince of Wales pledged his support through a donation from the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. Following this, Purcell was commissioned to repair, restore and conserve the fire-damaged Victorian building.
Denise Bernard, former chair of the trust, told Historic England: “Contractors were able to restore so much of the building to its former state with no former plans/blueprints and from just photographs and Florrie old boy memories; in spite of the devastating fire, [and] being open to the elements for decades...”