Liverpool Historic Pub Walk

Discover historic pubs in the centre of Liverpool (1x Grade I, 1x Grade II*, 3x Grade II, and 1x unlisted).

Lion, 67 Moorfields, L2 2BP (corner of Tithebarn Street)

Listed Grade II

Originally built in 1865, but remodelled in the early twentieth century. Occupying a corner site, it has an unusual plan with the public bar in the angle, surrounded by a L-shaped corridor.

Although altered in the 1960s, it retains spectacular tilework, glass, and varnished woodwork. The current owner has carried out much careful conservation work.

Crown, 43 Lime Street, L1 1JQ (on eastern side of Lime Street station)

Listed Grade II

Built 1905 by Peter Walker & Co of Warrington, whose ales and the name of the pub are advertised on elaborate Art Nouveau panels on the upper storey of the building.

The ground floor is faced in polished marble; although altered, sufficient remains of the interior to show that this was very much intended as a showpiece.

There are now two rooms; the rear one appears intact, but the front one, judging by the number of external doors, was once at least three rooms.

The pub retains wooden panelling, original fireplaces, bar back, and copper-fronted bar counter, but the glory of the pub is the elaborate moulded plaster ceilings and cornices.

A staircase leads to the former billiard room, now a dining room, on the first floor.

The Vines, 81 Lime Street, L1 1JQ (opposite Adelphi Hotel)

Listed Grade II*

Built in 1907, designed by local architect Walter Thomas for the Liverpool brewer Robert Cain, it is hard to see it as anything other than a response to the building of the Crown (see above) by an out-of-town brewer.

The free Baroque exterior, with its corner clock tower, gabled upper storey and polished granite ground floor was clearly intended to overshadow its near neighbour. The interior, although altered in 1989, retains much of the multi-roomed interior, with much decorative glass, tiles and woodwork.

The ‘Smoke Room’ is one of the most ornate pub rooms in the country, with mahogany panelling, fixed seating divided into alcoves by elaborate screens, a fireplace featuring a coloured relief of a Viking ship, and a spectacular ceiling featuring the signs of the zodiac.

Roscoe Head, 24 Roscoe Street, L1 2SX (off Leece Street)

Not listed.

Proof that not all central Liverpool pubs were spectacular, this is a small back-street pub that was refitted in the 1930s, with a central drinking lobby (for those who liked to drink standing up) and four tiny rooms off it (for those who preferred to drink sitting down).

Several rooms retain fixed seating, contemporary fireplaces, and wall-mounted bell-pushes to summon waiter service.

Philharmonic, 36 Hope Street, L1 9BX (corner of Hardman Street)

Listed Grade I

In contrast, the Philharmonic is the most spectacular pub in England, if not the UK. It was built 1898-1900 to the designs of Walter Thomas for Liverpool brewer Robert Cain.

Much of the decoration was the product of a collaboration with the University’s Department of Architecture and Applied Art; the entrance gates on Hope Street, by H Bloomfield Bare, are an amazing display of Art Nouveau wrought iron and copper.

The building is in a free ‘Scottish baronial’ style, with stepped gables and oriel windows. It retains its multi-room layout on the ground floor, with a large drinking lobby at its heart, and the former ‘Philharmonic Dining Rooms’ on the first floor.

The interior is a riot of mosaic floors, varnished woodwork, elaborate fireplaces, and etched and engraved glass, all topped off with elaborate moulded plaster ceilings.

Peter Kavanagh's, 2-6 Egerton Street, L8 7LY

Listed Grade II

The original pub, situated at the end of a terrace of about 1840, was rebuilt in about 1877 and has a cream and burgundy tiled façade from around 1920.

The interior has a typical ‘Pennine’ layout of a drinking lobby with rooms to the front and rear of the building, each with fixed seating for those who prefer to drink sitting down.

The main interest is in the decorative scheme of 1929, with colourful stained glass windows in the front and rear rooms, each of which has murals by the Scottish artist Eric Robinson, the front (‘Pickwick’) room decorated with scenes from Dickens, and the rear (‘Hogarth’) room with 18th-century drinking scenes.