The Crown Hotel                                                           The Vines                                                            Doctor Duncans  

Liverpool is another city which is well provided with real ale houses, together with fine pub architecture, with too many bars to mention here. However, if you are staying over and visiting for more than just the day, I would recommend you carry out further research to this page. In addition to my own visits, I have gained advice from a friend, and more regular visitor, another Steve, though I won't let on which team he supports.  


Both Everton FC and Liverpool FC have grounds that are well outside of the city centre. I am assured it is a good idea to enjoy refreshment before and after matches nearer to Lime Street station, and catch either public transport or a taxi to the stadium, ie after enjoying the delights of the following establishments.  


On leaving Lime Street railway station you immediately reach The Crown Hotel, 43 Lime Street, L1 1JQ (0151 707 6027). The Crown is a mid-19th century building, and is a fine example of the Victorian 'gin palace'. It has a highly decorative exterior featuring decorative stucco friezes with ornate gold lettering and copper panels. There is an art nouveau interior, with fine plaster detail on the ceiling and an impressive staircase with a glass cupola roof window overhead. There is a good selection of real ales and a good value food menu too.  


On leaving the Crown you soon reach The Vines, 81 Lime Street, L1 1JQ (0151 709 3977). This is another Victorian building, but its interior was altered between 1906 and 1907 for Cain's Brewery, and it is known locally as the “Big House”. The impressive outside clock is from the same company that provided the clock tower at the Westminster Parliament building that houses 'Big Ben'.   


Inside The Vines, you enter an Edwardian baroque version of the 'gin palace', featuring mahogany pillars and carvings, plaster friezes and copper work. The interior spreads over 3 floors and the rarely open Heritage Room, with its own bar, has an impressive stained glass cupola. Features include cut glass windows, magnificent fireplaces, and 2 striking female figures in mahogany either side of a beaten copper panel. This is somewhere you can discover something new every visit.   


On leaving the Vines, you need to come back on yourself and take St John's Lane, the road up to the left from Lime Street station, where you reach Doctor Duncan's, 1-2 St John's Lane, L1 1HF (0151 709 5100). Doctor Duncan's is named in honour of the locally born William Henry Duncan, who was the first appointed Chief Medical Officer of Health in the UK. The building was built in a Gothic revival style in 1901. Inside, the huge back room has tiled walls with a mosaic floor, and there is a medical theme to the exhibits on display. Always good value, Cain's beers are on sale, and a large number of continental beers are available in bottle, a food menu is provided. 


                            Ship & Mitre                                                                 Vernon Arms                                                           The Philharmonic          

From Doctor Duncan’s you head further away from the station until you reach the junction with Churchill Way South. Turn left and the road soon becomes Dale Street, which has a further 2 of our suggestions. First, is the superb art deco Ship & Mitre, 133 Dale Street, L2 2JH (0151 236 0859), which was built in 1935, with the exterior maintaining its original character. However, the downstairs interior was altered in 1985, and you have to visit the upstairs lounge to witness part of the original art deco interior. Downstairs was decorated by shipbuilders, apparently, giving it a nautical theme. There are 12 ever-changing real ales, draught cider, a large selection of Belgian and German bottled beers, and home cooked food 12-2pm and 5-9pm daily. The Ship & Mitre is a particular favourite of my local contact, and myself, which he admits to being his 'local' by choice, which is a great accolade considering the number of excellent pubs in the city.    

Finally, if you ignore my additional suggestions, we reach the Vernon Arms, 69 Dale Street, L2 2HJ (0151 236 6132), which has developed excellently since its reopening in April 2009. There are 2 regular ales (Rev Jones and Johnnie Handsome) and 4 ever-changing guest ales, guest ciders, Belgian beers and a good value food menu (Mon-Thurs 12-7pm, Fri-Sun 12-4pm).    

I have to add yet another pub, if you have sufficient time after leaving the Vines and before going to Doctor Duncan's, that is, the Philharmonic, or Philharmonic Dining Rooms(upstairs), 36 Hope Street, L1 9BX (0151 707 2837). This is opposite the Philharmonic Hall, and is a majestic building with imposing rooms and ornate decoration, a great range of real ales, and reputedly fine dining too. There are not many pubs where it is recommended to visit the gents toilets, but people are positively encouraged to visit them here because of the uniquely preserved original decoration (the Princess Louise in London is the only other pub I can think of with a similar recommendation). Indeed, I have received many reports supporting what a fine establishment this is since first writing about it.   

A further recommendation has been received from Rob, many thanks, the friendly Lion Tavern, 67 Moorfields, L2 2BP (0151 236 1734), close to Moorfield railway station, which had a particularly good Salopian Oracle on tap, and with reasonably priced food, eg homemade pork pies and sandwiches.  

If you want to visit a Weatherspoons at any time, Liverpool provides you with the Richard John Blackler, Units 1&2 Charlotte Row, Great Charlotte Street, L1 1HU (0151 709 4802). As a Weatherspoons, you know the usual menu, and that there will be good value real ales etc...