by Bob Thurlow and David Wrightson - £19.99 The Bluecoat Press (2011)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781908457042 | ISBN 10: 190845704x
When Bob Thurlow wrote Inn Liverpool over 40 years ago, Liverpool was going through a decade of rapid change. The city centre was being restructured and many familiar buildings were demolished to make way for the new. Among the many losses were dozens of public houses that had been trading since the nineteenth century.
Bob recognised the importance of the city’s magnificent pub heritage and embarked on a mission to record the many bars that still populated the centre. Too late for those that had succumbed to the catastrophic reshaping of the 1960s, he was in time to document many great pubs that have since closed or been demolished. In a stroke of inspiration, he commissioned David Wrightson, whose photographs lit up Quentin Hughes’s seminal book Seaport, to make a stunning visual record of the places he was writing so passionately about.
Inn Liverpool is more than just a record; it is a poem to the craftsmanship that created the cut-glass mirrors and windows, buttoned-leather seats, mahogany and teak counters, exquisitely plastered ceilings and all the other fittings that made the Liverpool public house so special. From showpiece gin palaces like the Philharmonic Hotel and The Vines to more humble taverns, Inn Liverpool highlights what has been lost and what is still with us to appreciate and enjoy. It is an important book, a cautionary tale about valuing our heritage for what it is, not real estate to be sold off to the highest bidder but an essential part of our communal history and memory.
In the 40 years that have passed since Bob completed his manuscript and left it half-forgotten in a drawer, even more change has taken place and property developers circle the city looking for the next opportunity. A book so long in the publishing may seem an anachronism but, in the light of what is happening, it could not be a more apposite time to remind us of the important part the public house has played in Liverpool’s social history.
(Price & availability last checked: June 2019)