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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Liverpool

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Inside Mosque
© Liverpool Records Office
The 'little mosque'

For years, council employees at Brougham Terrace, Liverpool, referred to the strong room at the back of the building as the 'little mosque', but no one knew why.

Sitting on the edge of West Derby Road, just east of the city centre, the rather elegant old Georgian terrace now looks decidedly frayed around the edges.

Built in 1830, by Joseph Allanson Picton the original building was made up of 12 terrace houses. It was named after prominent, Liverpool-based lawyer and Whig politician, Henry Peter, 1st Baron of Brougham and Vaux. A Scotsman, Brougham served as Lord Chancellor between 1830 and 1834.

The terrace initially was housing for Liverpool's well-heeled merchants. In 1900 numbers one to seven were demolished to make way for the West Derby Union building. But it was in numbers 8 to 12 that history was made.

On Christmas Day 1889, the Liverpool solicitor and Muslim convert William Abdullah Quilliam opened the doors of what is England's first mosque.

Listen to Somaia McTeer on how Abdullah Quilliam embraced the Liverpool community.

Abdullah Quilliam
© Liverpool Records Office
Quilliam was the son of a wealthy watch manufacturer. At 17, and newly qualified as a solicitor, he was sent to Morocco to recuperate from illness. By the time he returned a year later, he had taken his 'Shahadah' - a Muslim declaration of faith. He changed his name from William to Abdullah.

A famously charismatic man, he initially held lectures on Islam in the Temperance League Hall on Mount Vernon Street in Liverpool.

Listen to Patricia Gordon's memories of her grandfather Abdullah Quilliam.

As the number of converts began to grow, Quilliam purchased number 8 Brougham Terrace. With his architect, Joseph McGovern, he made adjustments to the building named the 'Liverpool Muslim Institute'.

Words: Louise Sardais

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