Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Liverpool

36 Hope Street
City Centre
L1 9BX
0151 707 2837

Traditional Town Pub, 3* Heritage Pub

The Philharmonic in Liverpool is one of very few pubs to have been awarded a Grade I listing by Historic England and is described by them as

….one of the finest public houses in England and the pinnacle of the ‘gin palace’ form of pub;

Or, in the words of Camra’s Pub Heritage website:

….the most spectacular pub in England – indeed, throughout the whole of the UK….

It was built in 1900 for Cains Brewery by architect Walter W. Thomas with much of the work carried out by craftsmen from the university architecture and arts faculty.

Outside it’s designed in exhuberant free style (Historic England) with a huge corner oriel window, two octagonal turrets and balconies on both the first and second floors (photo 1). The gates in front of the main entrance by the architect and designer Henry Bloomfield Bare are said to be the finest art nouveau metal work in the UK (photo 2).

Inside there is a whole wealth of extravagant features and fittings: intricate plasterwork, pictorial copper panels, stained and etched glass windows, carved woodwork, tiled walls, mahogany fireplaces and a magnificent marble gent’s toilets.

The northern style drinking lobby has a mosaic tiled floor and a wonderful tiled bar counter surrounded by wood and glass screens (photo 3). The first room on the left of the passageway is the Smoke Room, now called the Brahms Room. This has elaborate mahogany panelled walls and fireplace surround and a row of stained glass windows above (photo 5). Opposite is the Liszt Room (formerly the News Room), also mahogany panelled and with an elegant stained glass window showing St Cecilia, the patron saint of music (photo 6).

At the end of the passageway is the large and sumptuous former Billiards Room, now called the Grande Lounge. Here you will find more extravagant wood panelling incorporating cabinets and fireplaces. Above the panelling are gold painted plasterwork thistle designs and on the ceiling are two stained glass skylights. It must have been quite a place to play billiards (photo 7).

Last but not least are the most impressive gents toilets of any pub in the UK (photo 8). The urinals and washbasins are marble, the floor has mosaic tiling and the taps are brass.

The pub caters for tourists as much as locals but it does this well with meals all day in the bars and in the upstairs “dining rooms” of the pub name. The pub is managed by Nicholson’s and often has their house beers, but also up to seven changing cask ales from around the country. Keg beers and lagers include Camden Pale & Hells, Paulaner, Amstel, Peroni and Madri.

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