Our History

In 1875, William Atkinson offered Southport Corporation £6,000 to build an art gallery and library for the town.

William Atkinson was a cotton manufacturer from Knaresborough who frequently visited Southport with his sick wife looking for the refreshing sea air. He eventually moved to Southport and generously donated approximately £40,000 to the town during his lifetime and played an active part in its development. The architects Waddington & Son of Burnley designed the Atkinson Art Gallery and Library, which opened in 1878.

The portrait of William Atkinson, currently on display in the local history gallery you can see the plans for the art gallery being held in his hands.

The Atkinson opened its doors in May 2013 and is now home to a theatre, studio, cafe, shop, exhibitions spaces, library and museum.

Did you know that Julius Caesar, Caratacus, Alfred the Great and Edward the Confessor surround The Atkinson’s clock tower?… Find out more about the Grade II Listed Building we call our home in this video by Adam Hughes.

Find out more about the history of the The Atkinson.