About Blackburne House
Blackburne House is a beautiful Grade II listed building, situated in Liverpool’s famous Hope Street quarter, close to the city centre. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, our facilities include a thriving café bar, a women’s health suite, excellent conference facilities and a 30 place nursery.
The Women’s Technology And Education Centre (WTEC) was established in 1983. Our aim was to attract low paid or unemployed women and equip them with the skills to progress into employment in technical professions; an area in which women are traditionally under-represented. By 1991 the organisation had expanded considerably and it was therefore necessary to find new accommodation. Over £4 million was raised in order to refurbish Blackburne House.
A bit about our beautiful Building:
Blackburne House is believed to have been originally built between 1785 and 1790. It was constructed as the countryside residence of John Blackburne who was the Mayor of Liverpool in 1788, a position his Father, a wealthy merchant and dealer in the slave trade also named John held in 1760.
In 1844 a local merchant and ship owner called George Holt purchased the property. George was born in Rochdale and had moved to Liverpool in 1807, at the behest of his Father to strive to make his fortune. Beginning work as an apprentice to a local cotton broker in Water Street, George soon achieved his early ambitions and became a successful merchant whose family name still lives on in Liverpool. Holt Road and the former Holt School named in their honour. Two of Georges son’s also founded the Ocean Steamship Company and the Blue Funnel Line.
Blackburne House was one of many properties owned by George Holt and he offered the building to the directors of the nearby Mechanics Institute, later to become the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, in order that they set up a Girls School in honour of his Daughter Emma Jane.
Despite it being almost the mid 1800’s there was no Girls School established in Liverpool and so Blackburne House became the very first. It opened on the 5th August 1844 and Mrs Frances Elizabeth Davies was the school’s first Matron and Head Governess.
In 1874 the original house was rebuilt and enlarged and the school became the Liverpool Institute High School for Girls. It continued in this role until its closure in 1986, the building having been awarded a grade 2 listing in 1975. The school produced some notable luminaries during its time including Edwina Currie, Actor Tina Malone and Gill Reynolds MBE, and it was a sad day on which its doors were closed.
The building lay unused until 1992 when it was identified as an ideal location to house the Women’s Technology and Education Centre. Over £4 Million was raised over 3 years and with the help of local investors and funding programmes Blackburne House’s beautiful doors opened once again in September 1994.
Blackburne House Today
Today Blackburne House is a successful and vibrant organisation that has grown from a centre of education for women to being one of the UK’s leading and pioneering social enterprises. Thousands of visitors, students and businesses continue to use our services and the work we undertake enables individuals, organisations and businesses to positively impact on the local economy.
From the beginning, Blackburne House has successfully established a number of highly acclaimed and flourishing social enterprises which continue to support our educational aims and provide tangible examples of how new markets can be used to serve local communities.
The work we have done has received local, national and international recognition and our Chief Executive, Claire Dove MBE DL is the appointed Chair of the Social Enterprise Coalition which provides a national platform for showcasing the benefits of social enterprise.