Peter Kavanagh's pub, including 4 & 6 Egerton Street and associated cast-iron railings
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Location Description:
- Statutory Address:
- 2-6 Egerton Street, Liverpool, L8 7LY
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- Statutory Address:
- 2-6 Egerton Street, Liverpool, L8 7LY
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Location Description:
- Liverpool (Metropolitan Authority)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
Public house, originally constructed in the early 1840s as three houses forming part of a residential terrace. Number 2 became a public house in 1854 and was rebuilt and enlarged in around 1877, with further alterations in the early-mid-C20. Numbers 4 and 6 were altered and incorporated into the pub in 1963 and 1976 respectively.
Reasons for Designation
Peter Kavanagh's pub, including 4 & 6 Egerton Street and associated cast-iron railings, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* it is a unique legacy of one man's vision, capturing the eccentricities, inventiveness and character of Peter Kavanagh who was landlord from 1897 to 1950.
* its distinctive exterior incorporating faiencework, stained glass, pilasters and shallow oriel windows provides the pub with a strong visual identity, whilst the domestic origins of numbers 4 and 6 remain clearly legible;
* the interior, which was re-designed by Kavanagh in 1929, is a tour-de-force of eccentricity and quirkiness that references both gentlemen's clubs and ships' cabins in its design with curved walls, carved oak fireplaces, leaded glazing, and Tiffany-style lights, and the later additions of numbers 4 and 6 have been incorporated sympathetically;
* the interior incorporates artistic depictions of Kavanagh and the pub's patrons throughout the physical fabric, which can be seen in wall paintings of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers and various Hogarth-influenced scenes where figures are designed in the locals' likeness, as well as humorous caricatured versions in the carved woodwork; * 1920s features survive throughout and Kavanagh's status as an inventor is highlighted by the survival of his fixed pedestal tables with channels for spilt drinks, tilting table tops, and built-in ash trays and bell pushes.
* it has strong group value with the adjoining terrace of 8-32 Egerton Street and the terrace on the north side of Egerton Street, both listed at Grade II.
2-6 Egerton Street were originally constructed in the early 1840s as houses forming part of a terrace on the south side of Egerton Street (the rest of the terrace is separately listed at Grade II), but in 1854 number 2 became a licensed premises/public house known as The Liver. The pub was rebuilt and enlarged in around 1877 to form a larger bay-fronted three-storey building and renamed the Liver Hotel. In 1892 the pub was sold and its name changed to 'The Grapes' and Peter Kavanagh was installed as licensee from 1897. In 1903 the pub was sold to the Whittle Springs Brewery and became brewery owned for the first time in its history until Peter Kavanagh bought the pub in 1928, after which time it became known as 'Peter's'.
Peter Kavanagh was a publican, politician, floral artist, fundraiser for the Catholic Church, public benefactor, and also an inventor who patented a number of inventions, including a design for a tramcar, as well as tables and chairs. Whilst under Kavanagh's tenure oriel windows were added to the side of the pub in around 1911, and faience was added to part of the exterior in the early 1920s. In 1929 the interior was altered and re-designed by Kavanagh himself with an eclectic scheme.
After Kavanagh's death in 1950 his family sold the pub to Joshua Tetley & Son in 1952 and the pub's name reverted back to The Grapes. Number 4 Egerton Street, which had been bought by Kavanagh in the mid-1920s and later used as a beer store, was altered internally and incorporated into the interior of the pub in 1964, with further alterations occurring in 1976 when it was knocked through to number 6, and the latter building also incorporated into the pub. Despite its name reversion back to The Grapes the pub had remained locally known as 'Peter Kavanagh's' and its name was officially changed to this in 1977.
In around 2015 the pub was refurbished, including restoring some of the windows and refurbishing the toilets.
Public house, originally constructed in the early 1840s as three houses forming part of a residential terrace. Number 2 became a public house in 1854 and was rebuilt and enlarged in around 1877, with further alterations in the early-mid C20. Numbers 4 and 6 were altered and incorporated into the pub in 1963 and 1976 respectively.
MATERIALS: stucco to the front and west side elevations, and plain render to the rear, slate roof coverings, brick and stucco chimneystacks.
PLAN: the pub sits at the western end of a linear terrace aligned roughly east-west.
EXTERIOR: numbers 2, 4 and 6 Egerton Street comprise the Peter Kavanagh's public house, with number 2 forming the original part of the pub. Number 2 is at the far west end of the south Egerton Street terrace and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1877, thus projecting further forward than the rest of the terrace and also infilling its former rear yard area. It is of a tall two-storeys plus attic and basement, with tall chimneystacks and casement windows containing leaded glazing with stained and painted glass, including Art Deco sunbursts to the first floor and attic windows. Protective secondary glazing has been installed on the outside of the ground-floor windows and on the inside of the upper floors, and timber shutters were added to most of the ground-floor windows in the 1960s/1970s.
Number 2 is of a wide two-bays and has cream and burgundy-coloured faience to the ground floor on the front elevation and a canted two-storey bay to the right with a dentilled cornice. The faience was added in the early 1920s and some of the original cream elements have now also been over-painted in burgundy. The faience-work incorporates detailing, including pilaster-style decoration to the ground floor with Ionic capitals, keystones above the windows, and moulded surrounds to the first-floor windows. Above and behind the canted bay is a gable to the attic storey with applied half timberwork and a wide, shallow oriel window. The left bay contains the main entrance, which has a semi-circular flat hood that projects out from two pilasters to the doorway's jambs; that to the left is chamfered with a giant stop to the top. The doorway has a panelled door with the bottom section arranged in a cross shape and an overlight with cross-shaped glazing bars. In front of the entrance and leading into the vestibule behind is a black and white mosaic floor with a Greek-key border that was added as part of the 1929 works when the pub's ground floor was lowered internally and which originally continued as a path down to the pavement. The mosaic-work continues into the entrance vestibule where a section of modern mosaic-work has been installed in the doormat recess that reads 'Rita's' in black lettering in respect to the pub's current (2019) landlady.
Number 2's west side elevation is of a long three-bays with two large windows to the ground floor that light the bar servery and former smoke room and were introduced by Kavanagh in 1929 to bring more light into the pub, and a further smaller window at the right end that lights the former gentlemen's toilets; late C20 shutters have been removed from the smoke room's window, but remain to the others. To the first floor are two canted, slightly recessed oriel windows with tiled hipped roofs, with two oriel windows to the attic above that rise through the eaves line in a form of half-dormer; all were added in around 1911. The first floor and attic both also have windows to the right bay, which are believed to be survivors from the 1877 rebuild works with detailing added to their surrounds in around 1911.
Numbers 4 and 6, which lie to the left of number 2, are of two-storeys plus basement and a narrower two-bays, and retain the line of the rest of the attached Egerton Street terrace, which is separately listed at Grade II. However, the stucco of number 2 has been carried over and across numbers 4 and 6 and their first-floor blind window recesses infilled. They have also lost their doorcases and the entrance of number 4 has been lowered, reflecting the fact that the ground floor of number 4 was lowered internally in 1964 to mirror that of number 2, which had been lowered in 1929. Both former houses have replaced multi-paned timber casements to both floors that are styled to look like sash windows, and their basement windows have been removed. Chimneystacks survive to the roofs; those to number 4 have been raised. The cast-iron railings set upon a sandstone plinth that are present in front of the rest of the terrace also survive in front of numbers 4 and 6, although those flanking the entrance pathway to number 4 have been removed.
The rear gable end of number 2 is of a plain render with a doorway to the ground-floor right with a boarded window opening to the right (originally the location of the rear door and an off-sales until the early C20) and a canopied hood above. To the left are two windows with angled sills that previously lit the 1929 gentleman's toilets and to the first floor right is a partly leaded sash window. To the attic are two casement windows, one of which to the left is much smaller and lights a bathroom, and rising from the roof is a truncated ridge stack. The rear elevations of numbers 4 and 6 are also of plain render with a first-floor casement window to each former house. The rear yard areas have been infilled with later single-storey extensions.
GROUND FLOOR OF NUMBER 2 Internally the pub has three main areas with a linear plan from the front to the rear of number 2 that consists of a front room, a central drinking lobby/bar servery incorporating a linking corridor along the east side, and a rear room, all with a 1929 interior decorative scheme. The pub's entrance vestibule has panelling to the side walls that mirrors that of the main entrance door and an inner door with a glazed upper panel and a slender leaded overlight above with 'Peter's' in white Vitrolite lettering.
All three main areas have boarded ceilings with Tiffany-style ceiling lights as well as leaded-glazed lantern wall lights. The woodwork throughout the ground floor is of oak and includes various humorous references. Much of the woodwork was painted black in the 1970s, but the paint was removed in 1997.
The stained and painted glass within the pub is by William English and includes depictions of a lighthouse, a pair of oars and a galleon in the front room that reference Peter Kavanagh's love of things nautical and maritime and also the maritime history of Liverpool. The west side window lighting the former smoke room at the rear of the pub depicts Stephenson's 'Rocket', a coach and horses, and the coat of arms of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, whilst the window in the bar servery (now hidden by later optics and shutters on the exterior) depicts a car, a biplane, and the coat of arms of the universities of St Andrews and Trinity College Dublin.
The bar servery and corridor has a hexagonal-patterned black and white tile floor covering installed in 2015 that also carries through into number 4, which is accessed through an inserted doorway near to the entrance vestibule. The bar servery also has a leather-clad east wall with in-built display cabinets and also applied mock-Tudor timberwork to the top of the wall. The bar counter has a simple panelled front and a brass foot rail in front.
In 1929 the front room was known as the bar parlour and admittance was only by permission of Peter Kavanagh, whilst the rear room, which was known as the smoke room, was by Kavanagh's invitation only. Both the front and rear rooms have curved corner walls facing into the drinking lobby/bar servery with leaded lights to the top in the style of clerestory inner windows and leather-cladding on the drinking lobby side. The curved walls were designed by Kavanagh to be reminiscent of ships' cabins. The rooms are entered off the bar servery, and also from the bar service area, through partly leaded-glazed panelled doors. Both rooms have fixed-bench seating with carved portrayals of Peter Kavanagh's caricatured head at the end of the bench armrests, and wall panelling above incorporating murals by Eric Harold Macbeth Robinson. The murals in the front room depict scenes from Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, and some of the characters are believed to be modelled on Peter Kavanagh, Eric Robinson and the pub's patrons. The murals in the rear room depict various scenes inspired by the works of William Hogarth. To the top of the wall panelling in each room, and also in the bar servery, is a display shelf for objets d'art, antiques and memorabilia supported by brackets and carved grotesque corbels believed to be caricatures of the pub's patrons in 1929, with further collectables hanging from the ceilings throughout the ground floor. The grotesques are said to have been carved by craftsmen working on the construction of the Anglican cathedral, which was still ongoing in 1929.
Both front and rear rooms contain tall carved-oak fireplaces with tiled and arched inserts, carved relief panels depicting humorous drinking scenes of past centuries, inset diamond and square-shaped mirrors to their overmantels, and display shelves supported by carved heads of the Green Man. Both fireplaces have modern coal-effect gas fires. Each room also has six circular brass, steel and timber pedestal tables fixed to the floor that were invented, designed and patented by Kavanagh in 1938. The tables, which were intended for ships (hence being screwed to the floor), have a table top with inset leather panels and brass channels that carry liquid from spilt drinks into a central bowl concealed underneath the table by a latticed grille; the bowl also doubles as an ash tray for cigarettes. Bell pushes (no longer in use) exist to the brass column of each table and near to the base are paired brass arms with small cups (some cups are missing) that look like foot rests but were designed for stubbing out cigars and pipes. The table tops tilt upwards to enable the ashtray to be cleaned out and are fixed with a locking mechanism underneath.
To the rear of the ground floor the bar servery's linking corridor narrows towards a rear doorway (now a fire exit) flanked by a sliding door on the left that conceals a stair leading up to the first-floor landlord's accommodation, and on the right by a former telephone cupboard/booth added in 1929 with a leaded-glazed panelled door with lettering reading 'TELEPHONE', which is now used as a store. Also to the rear right of the pub is the former gentleman's toilets that has decorative patterned overlights above its entrance and cubicle within and retains its 1929 glazed-tile walls and coloured Vitrolite panelling, but has lost its sanitary ware and is now also used as a store. To the rear left of the pub is a panelled door with a large glazed upper panel that leads to a basement stair with terrazzo steps and Vitrolite panels down the side that were added as part of the 1929 works to access a ladies toilet installed at the southern end of the basement. The toilet has lost its sanitary ware (modern toilets are located in the infilled rear yard of number 4) but retains its terrazzo floor. The rest of the basement is plain but retains a barrel chute.
NUMBERS 4 AND 6 Following the 1960s and 1970s works in numbers 4 and 6 the original stairs and chimneybreasts have been removed and the ground floor has been opened up to form a space with boarded ceilings, fixed bench seating, and a raised seating area in number 6 with brass rails and ceiling-support poles that is accessed up a short flight of steps, with a bar and a kitchen at the rear. Above the seating in number 4 is boarded wall panelling up to picture rail height with a display shelf to the top, and the same panelling exists to the bar inserted in number 6. A 1970s stair flight has been inserted at the eastern end inside the entrance of number 6, which leads up to the first-floor accommodation that has been amalgamated with that of number 2. The former rear yard of number 4 has been infilled to provide modern toilets, which are accessed off the bar servery/drinking lobby corridor in number 2.
UPPER FLOORS The upper floors form the landlord's accommodation, which now also includes the first floor of numbers 4 and 6. The first floor has generally been modernised and the first-floor rooms of numbers 4 and 6 have been incorporated into number 2, but the plan form appears to survive, along with numerous features in number 2, such as a panelled dado in the front lounge, oak window architraves, panelling and shelves, and built-in cupboards and drawers. Fireplaces have been removed or replaced, but chimneybreasts survive. The attic of number 2 is (2019) a disused self-contained flat and is accessed via a dog-leg stair up from the first floor with stick balusters and a carved handrail.
Books and journals
Brandwood, G, Britain's Best Real Heritage Pubs. Pub Interiors of Outstanding Historic Interest, (2016), 126
Kavanagh, P A, Peter Kavanagh's: A 150 year history of a Liverpool pub, (2000)
Pye, K, Liverpool Pubs, (2015), 73-77
Sharples, J, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Liverpool, (2004), 250
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing