Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Thursday, 1 January 2009

Revamp for England's first mosque

Number 8 Brougham Terrace in Liverpool
The mosque closed in 1908

A 3m project to refurbish what is believed to be England's first mosque gets under way this month.

The restoration of the Grade II listed building at Number 8 Brougham Terrace in Liverpool will begin after emergency repairs to the roof are completed.

The mosque was opened on Christmas Day 1889 by Henry William Quilliam, who converted to Islam in 1887, adopting the name Abdullah Quilliam.

The mosque stopped running in 1908 when Abdullah Quilliam went travelling.

Dr Mohammad Akbar Ali, 85, set up the Abdullah Quilliam Society in 1997 with the intention of restoring the mosque to its former glory.

Galib Khan, the current chairman of the Abdullah Quilliam Society, said he hoped part of the building would be opened in the next six months.

What the new mosque in Liverpool will look like
About 2.5m still needs to be raised

He said: "It's a heritage site for us. This truly is the birthplace of Islam in Britain.

"We want to make it into a heritage centre for Islamic culture and interfaith dialogue.

"We will start on the refurbishment once we have finalised the lease arrangements with the city council."

The emergency repairs to the roof cost about 100,000 and 2.5m still needs to be raised towards the restoration project.

Mumin Khan, chief executive of the Abdullah Quilliam Society, said: "We have reached a milestone and breakthrough by raising more than a quarter of a million pounds in pledges for the work with one of the Bangladeshi-language channels, Channel S.

"This allows us to start the refurbishment phase of the project while carrying out further fundraising."

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.

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