300 years at the heart of Liverpool

In 2017, when we celebrated the 300th anniversary of our building, we created a special website with a wealth of archival treasures to indulge your curiosity.

Many of you enjoy delving into the My Bluecoat website, and through this regular newsletter we are highlighting some of its fascinating features and content. 

There is lots to explore here, including images from the old school, historic documents and collections of posters and programmes.

You can revisit a favourite exhibition, or discover a new one. And if there is anything you’d like to share with us, you can get in touch using this 


Bluecoat is a special place for many people. We have collected some of their stories for the website. Ruth Gould (now Ruth Fabby) established and directed deaf and disability arts festival DaDaFest, which has been based at Bluecoat since 2008 and in an ongoing programming partnership with us long before that.

A film on her Bluecoat story was made before Ruth moved to direct Disability Arts Cymru last year. Watch the film here to find out more about her relationship with Bluecoat. 

Discover Ruth's Story
If you have your own Bluecoat story or material that you’d like to share, you can submit it here.

Imagining the Bluecoat building in 1769

Ed Farrell creates incredible ‘aerial landscapes’ of Liverpool at different stages of its history, using old maps as source material.

In this recently recorded video conference, he talks to Bluecoat’s Artistic Director Bryan Biggs and Head of Participation Laura Yates about how he creates detailed paintings that bring Liverpool’s past to life. The main focus is on the Bluecoat building in 1769.

You can see Ed's paintings in greater detail and the maps they are based on, with accompanying notes, in this blogRead a transcription of the video conference here.

Not just a pretty façade

Bluecoat is the oldest building in central Liverpool and the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This website collection charts the architectural changes that have taken place over 300 years. It contains images from 1718 to 2008, and an animation of what the building might look like in a post-apocalyptic world! You can read our building conservation plan and an analysis of architectural drawings for the post-war restoration.

There are rare images of architects at work in the building, interior details including the ancient wooden staircase, and speculation on who built Bluecoat.   

To discover more about the building’s philanthropic origins and educational life, explore The Blue Coat School collection here
Another collection focuses on the building’s relationship to transatlantic slavery and artists who have interrogated this history.
See that collection here.


This week, our Artistic Director Bryan Biggs has selected posters for poetry and spoken word events at Bluecoat in the 1980s and 1990s.

The artists represented range from well-known names like Adrian Henri and Linton Kwesi Johnson, to emerging talent like Patience Agbabi, while there is an emphasis on spoken word’s interaction with music.

Read about Bryan's selection here.

You can explore the Bluecoat Posters collection here. If you find one you especially like tell us on Twitter for a chance for it to be featured in our next Newsletter.

Maps are a great way of exploring new places whilst staying safe at home. Have you ever had a go at making your own map?

Follow along with our 'Scatter Cities' video to learn how to make your own imaginary city. 

There are more learning resources here.

These were developed in 2017 for use in schools but contain some interesting information and learning activities. 

There are 300 facts on the site about Bluecoat’s fascinating history.

This week’s fact relates to a series of startling interventions into the building’s architecture by artist Nina Saunders.

Can you find out more about her exhibition in 1997? Go to the Menu and use the Search the Archive function.
As a charity, we rely on the income generated by our cafe, bistro and events programme. While our building remains closed in line with guidance from Public Health England, we're losing a huge portion of our income. 
Do you regularly visit Bluecoat for a coffee or lunch? We would be so grateful if you could consider donating what you might have spent. Your support will help us to reopen as soon as possible after the restrictions are lifted. 
We need your help now more than ever. 
Thank you for your support
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Image Credits: Ed Farrell, Liverpool in 1769; University of Liverpool architecture exhibition at Bluecoat, 2017.
Copyright © 2020 Bluecoat, All rights reserved.

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