Liverpool – a city always known for it’s history.
So often we can get carried away with what’s new. New places, new drinks and new plates of food. Why do we like new? Well, it’s exciting, we haven’t seen it before and we want to be first to experience it. Whilst the future of Liverpool is exciting, every now and then, you must marvel at the history. Take a breather, walk to the other side of the road and see what got us here and who paved the way for the Liverpool we see today. So it’s with this very blog we hope to create a little guide to the golden oldies of Liverpool. The ones, despite their age, could still run rings around the new kids on the block. They were doing latte art whilst the current baristas were in their diapers.
Rennie’s Art Gallery
A true legacy. Close to 40 years in business and they show no sign of stopping. They’ve been supplying all the city’s creatives, artists and dabblers with all their stationery needs for some time now and are revered for their customer service.
News From Nowhere
Liverpool’s favourite radical bookshop, News From Nowhere, has been a hive for subversive activity, alternative culture and an epicentre for social justice campaigns and literature since 1974. Through this time it has been a target for fascist groups and arson attacks in the early 80s, and has had 4 different homes, but it is still standing, selling its books and spreading its message. Iconic.
Just like friends and loved ones, shops come and go and it’s rare that one sticks around for more than three decades. But Matta’s is that rare place that has stood the test of time and probably does feel like a loved one to the many people of Liverpool. It first opened in 1984 in Granby, but relocated to Bold Street after a few years of trading. We hope they remain there for another 30 years.
A true taste of Liverpool. They opened their doors in 1996 and the husband and wife duo haven’t looked back. We can’t even begin to imagine how many pans of scouse have been dished out in the last twenty years.
Blink and you might miss it, The Baltic Fleet might be off the beaten track but good beer is worth walking for. The dockside pub has some fantastic history but isn’t left in the past as it is Liverpool’s only brewpub. In the cellar beneath the pub they brew Wapping beers, they’re fresh and elegant and there’s a certain romanticism about it being crafted just a few feet below your own.
Reid Of Liverpool
Nestled into Mt Pleasant, the first thing you notice when you walk in to Reid’s, and this could easily be intimidating, is the sheer height of the bookshelves. From floor to ceiling ageing hard and paper backs are stuffed wherever possible. Gerry, the 70 something book connoisseur looks after the books, and for a long time, they’ve looked after him too.
69A is a shop located in Liverpool City Centre, with an eclectic mix of stock from all ages and from most parts of the world. Make sure you give Murdoch, the resident ginger cat a stroke when you’re in. They first opened shop opened in the beginning of 1977 at 81 Renshaw Street, above David Land’s Wine Merchants, in the former offices of the legendary Merseybeat Newspaper.
The Playhouses’ building on Williamson Square began well over a century-ago in 1866 but it wasn’t until 1911 that the theatre itself was born. It was originally a music hall but as all great things do, evolved over time into something a lot more. An esteemed acting roster such as Michael Redgrave, Anthony Hopkins and Sir Ian McKellen gracing the Playhouses’ presence within the first half-century of it being open has led to a prestigious reputation, capturing the hearts of any who have found time to visit.
Known as Heebies to its devoted fans, if you live for the weekend then we guess you have ended up drunkenly stumbling out of a taxi in an attempt to head towards Seel Street. The bar holds a cult-like status within Liverpool but not many know it originally opened in the mid 90’s as a jazz bar.
Coffee, cocktails and cinema: Cafe Tabac is the closest to a continental experience you can get in Liverpool. The exterior is lit up with neon red signs, taking you away from Bold Street and onto the cobbled streets of Amsterdam. Tabac’s breakfasts are legendary and have helped the people of Liverpool fight off their hangovers for close to 40 years now. Here’s to forty more.
U N I
In a world full of gastronomical pretence, U N I is a refreshing haven for those who like to dive head first into Indian food. They’ve been going since 1970 so as well as being one of the longest serving restaurant in Liverpool, they’ve also perfected the art of Indian cuisine. Not only that, they’ve had the same chef since 1986. You could have eaten here in four separate decades and it is likely to have been cooked by him.
Established in 1968 at 29 Great George Street, a stone’s throw from its present premises, Yuh Ho Yau’s unique style of Northern Chinese Cuisine has impressed, delighted and pleased countless visitors to the Yuet Ben. The restaurant is today run by his daughter Theresa and her husband Terry Lim.
Founded in 1971 by Geoff Davies, the shop was originally located on Clarence Street, off Brownlow Hill with a second location soon opened in the basement of Silly Billies clothes shop. The shop relocated in 1976 to Button Street around the corner from Eric’s Club on Mathew Street and found itself at the centre of the city’s emerging punk and new wave music scene, acting as a supporter of local independent bands and musicians.
It’s an age old joke but there was a time in Liverpool where your options to eat out was deciding between Uncle Sam’s or Caesars Palace. Ribs and burgers are served in this American-styled restaurant with vintage posters and photos. They also specialise in food challenges so if you fancy taking on a burger stacked skyscraper high, this is the place.
Unity theatre is Liverpool’s small-scale theatre with big ambitions. Their work is challenging, innovative, risky and unusual. Their mission is to increase the quality and quantity of the performing arts available on Merseyside by encouraging creativity, participation, innovation and diversity. The Unity name is one of the last reminders of a national theatre movement that played an important role in the theatrical and political life of the country. Merseyside Left Theatre was formed in the 1930s and became Merseyside Unity Theatre in 1944.
The Royal Court Theatre we know now was opened on 17 October 1938. It had been totally rebuilt with a new Art Deco style, making it Liverpool’s number one theatre with all its splendour and grandeur. The interior of the building holds a nautical theme, which is in line with Liverpool’s seafaring traditions. The basement lounge has its design based on the Queen Mary liner. There are three viewing levels within the main auditorium: the Stalls, the Grand Circle and the Balcony.
A popular pub located on Rice Street, just off Hope Street with tonnes of history that hasn’t changed for years. Ye Cracke is in fact a 19th-century public house with a room called ‘The War Room’ is a small room in the pub, which is the oldest part of it. A collection of about 20 drawings of local buildings are displayed on the wall, and these all date from the late 1960s. It has historical connections with The Beatles (because it was frequented by John Lennon and his girlfriend Cynthia when they were at art school).
The Roscoe Head is a Liverpool institution where past and present comes together in a glorious whole. The Roscoe Head is a Liverpool pub institution — the only one on Merseyside that’s featured in every edition of Camra’s Good Beer Guide since the book’s debut in 1974. Given the attritional rate of pub closures and takeovers over the years, this is no mean feat. Well known for wholesome pub grub, this is a place for beer heads.
The Swan Inn
In the heart of the string of bars in Liverpool, a nice mix of different people of different ages all call Swan Inn their second home. This place is more than just a pub. It has been there since the early 1900’s and no matter the decade, the one constant was a good drink and good company.
Photo by Lionel Jones
The Cavern Club
Liverpool’s Cavern Club is the cradle of British pop music. Impressively, 55 years after its foundation, it survives and thrives as a contemporary music venue. Through seven eventful decades, before, during and after The Beatles this legendary cellar has seen its share of setbacks yet has played a role in each epoch of music, from 1950s jazz to 21st century indie rock.
The Philharmonic Hall is Liverpool’s fix for anything orchestral, cultural and comedic. The Philharmonic Hall is one of the most loved and recognisable landmarks in our city. It’s over 170 years old, making it older than the iconic Liver Buildings. Interestingly, the current Grade II listed concert hall is not actually the original hall – the original hall, built in the 1800s for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society (now the oldest surviving orchestra in the UK), was destroyed by a fire in the 1930s. But like a Phoenix, the art deco concert hall rose from its predecessor’s ashes.
Their current store boasts a two-storey presence in the Bohemian Quarter’s Bold Street. Founded in 1991 they started off as a small vintage clothes shop in the Quiggins arcade. From the loyal mods to the ultra-hipster, Resurrections offers a respite away from the humdrum high-street and no matter what your budget, you will always be able to leave with a new attire.
60 Hope Street, Puschka, Kellys Dispensery, Peter Kavanagh’s, Soul Cafe, Liver Grease, The Pilgrim, Quiggins, The Egg, Voodou.
Did we miss anything? Let us know and we’ll add it.
Fancy saving money at close to 100 of the best independents in Liverpool? Including places like Rennie’s, Resurrection and U N I? Check out the Independent Liverpool Membership Card. It is just £15 for a year (or £20 for two) of discounted discovery at some of Liverpool’s best independents. Shop local and save money, buy yours here.