Interview with St Nick's Church

01 Nov 2019

St Nicks Church Liv Waters

Liverpool Parish Church (St Nick’s) has witnessed the growth and development of Liverpool since the 13th Century. The incredibly detailed records we have of church life date back to the 16th Century, showing the many ways in which St Nick’s has supported the population of the city over the years.

We spoke to The Revd Canon Dr Crispin Pailing, Rector of Liverpool, about how Liverpool Waters can support the fantastic work that the church does in its communities.

What do you think of the plans for the regeneration of the city’s northern docks?

“We’ve been watching the development for the last few years. It’s such an exciting and significant change on our doorstep. Given the impact that this regeneration is having on the city, we have begun conversations with Liverpool Waters about how we can serve the new population. It is difficult to list all the things we do in the city: as well as services and acts of worship, St Nick’s leads on social action to address the needs we see across the Liverpool.

“It is also a place where art and music thrive (the striking pair of legs overlooking Chapel Street is just one of the sculptures we have installed this year), and over the summer we even staged a theatre performance. From our point of view, this is all part of our service to the city, as we animate, provoke and inspire.

“Don’t forget, of course, that throughout the year dozens of couples get married at St Nick’s or bring their children for christenings. Liverpool Waters is going to bring a new population to a distinct area, and we want to explore how we can do what we already do in a new way for a new audience. Our ideas will grow as Liverpool Waters develops, but we are excited at the digital infrastructure which Peel L&P has already created to form intentional community amongst the new residents.

“At the moment, the vast empty spaces in the northern docks are not bringing economic benefit to the city, and they are not enhancing the lives of its residents. The piecemeal regeneration of the southern section of Liverpool’s historic docks has brought life and commerce: you only have to wander around Brunswick Dock to see the success. The northern docks will benefit from having a single plan behind the regeneration.

“Earlier this year Prof. Michael Parkinson from the University of Liverpool published his latest study of the regeneration of Liverpool, but he finishes with the challenge of the north of the city. There has rightly been considerable emphasis on enhancing the city centre, but the investment needs to move outwards and, in particular, northwards. As a city centre church, we see this need all the time. Liverpool Waters is part of the next phase of the city’s growth, and I hope it will extend the success of the city centre outwards.

Why is St Nick’s so important to the community?

“Liverpool Parish Church (St Nick’s) is the historic church of the city, and has witnessed the growth and development of Liverpool since the 13th Century. The incredibly detailed records we have of church life date back to the 16th Century, so we know the way that St Nick’s has supported the population of the city in different ways over the years.

“As well as being the oldest surviving institution in the City, we are also one of the best known. When visitors step off the cruise ships, we are the first open heritage building they encounter.

“Developing our role in the visitor economy, which has involved improving the offer to all those who enter the building, has increased our visibility. But as well as services, music, art, theatre, civic involvement, and any number of other things, we do a lot of less glamorous work as well. We have three Alcoholics Anonymous groups, and also Gamblers Anonymous. We run a Shared Reading group (with The Reader, based at Calderstones Mansion House), and we even have an orchestra-in-residence of young people drawn from across the region. The clergy are involved at Board/Trustee level with dozens of organisations which work with some of the most deprived communities.

“At the moment we are working with the Community Foundation for Lancashire and Merseyside to engage the business community in the solution to homelessness. This follows a Conference on homelessness which we ran in April with the support of both the Mayor Joe Anderson and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.”

 What are your aspirations for the future of St Nick’s and Liverpool Waters working together?

“Liverpool Waters is bringing dynamism and regeneration to a heritage site, and at St Nick’s we do much the same thing. We are proud of our heritage, but we need to keep refreshing our approach to make it relevant today. We have a shared aim with Liverpool Waters, which is to bring prosperity to all our communities, and we need to ensure that this is not at the expense of those who are most in need. I hope that we can work together to create an ethically aware community which will thrive.”


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The Liverpool Waters Team