The St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church Project is an exciting plan to bring facilities and attractions at an historic Victorian church to the wider community – children, young people and adults.

Based in a Grade II-listed active church shared by two congregations, the project involves a expanded community hub and new heritage centre focusing on four main themes:

Organ lessons and concerts
Bell-ringing tuition and demonstrations in the belfry.
Heritage of the building, principally the unique war memorial featuring an image of the iconic liner Lusitania with the ship’s tragic history.
The history of St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church and its support for St James’s Church building.
About 50 schools and colleges within a three-mile radius of the church are being contacted about the St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church Project with a view to pupil and staff involvement.

Installed in the late 19th century, the fully-working organ will be used for giving basic and advanced tuition to children and young adults. This will help address the severe shortage of church and concert organists under the age of 30, a national issue. In addition there will be concerts organised to demonstrate newly-acquired skills.

In tandem with organ lessons, there will be bell-ringing tuition using the peal of six bells cast by Mears and Stainbank of London. Installed in 1859, they range from a 5 cwt treble up to a 12 cwt tenor. The lessons will be carried out by members of the Liverpool Cathedral bell ringers, Lancashire Association of Change Ringers and others based at nearby St John’s Church, Tuebrook.

The Thornton Chapel will be used as a heritage centre with illustrated display boards compiled by the West Derby Society and others. The boards will tell the fascinating story of why St James’s Church was built by the Thornton family. It will explore the role of wealthy women patronesses in Victorian England when women had few property rights before the 1880s. The story will be brought up to the present day with the arrival of St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church and its support of this historic place.

The adjacent area dominated by the wall-mounted war memorial, refurbished in 2009, will be devoted to the story of the Lusitania and the mystery surrounding the placing of an image of the doomed liner. There will be models of Lusitania’s contemporary ships, on loan from National Museums Liverpool, on display.