"Throughout its history Pembroke Place has been home to a number of different types of leisure activities, from roller-skating rinks to zoos. It probably comes as no surprise that a series of public houses and hotels also thrived in the area. Some of our researchers have been investigating the night-life of Pembroke Place and the history of its establishments.
The Pembroke Hotel was pre-eminent, with mentions of its events appearing in both the local and national press. Throughout the late-Victorian Era, this local fixture hosted numerous gatherings attended by local dignitaries.
Jacob Reuben Grant, the owner of prominent local business Globe Furnishings, was given a reception by local tradesmen and councillors, both Liberal and Conservative, to celebrate his election to the City Council in 1890. He was presented with an ‘illuminated address of congratulations’ from his neighbours and fellow-councillors.
Grant’s relationship to the venue continued, as he hosted a ‘smoking concert’ (a gathering of men who would smoke and talk about politics while listening to live music) there in December 1899, just two months after the outbreak of the Boer War. Patriotic speeches were given, songs were sung, and funds were collected to be distributed to the wives and children of active servicemen. The Hotel also witnessed the birth of peculiar political movements; ‘The National Personal Liberty League’, a campaigning organisation which briefly flourished in late 19th Century Liverpool and dedicated itself to countering the rise of the Temperance Movement, held its first annual dinner at the Hotel in 1895. The Odd Fellows, a fraternal organisation dedicated to the principles of liberty and charity, would hold several dinners and lodge meetings in its large hall.
The Hotel’s reputation was such that in 1929, James Edgar William Wells, an out-of-work engineer, claimed to a Northampton boarding-house landlady to be a wealthy business-owner who had previously been staying at the Pembroke Hotel, using its prestige to land himself several days’ free food and board before his ruse was discovered.
Other venues flourished in the area. 61-3 Pembroke Place was home to the Pembroke Billiard Hall, a venture started by Edwin Haigh between 1905 and 1908. Haigh, the son of a railway porter who would go on to become an alderman on Liverpool City Council, capitalised on a growing public interest in billiards by opening venues in Liverpool, Huddersfield and Manchester. His fortunes fluctuated during the course of WWI, and after the war the venue was bought out by E.P. Riley’s. The Stag’s Head at 40 Pembroke Place operated for close to 70 years, run for most of that time by Charles Blackburn, a former lightweight boxing champion who encouraged the local branch of the Boxers’ Union to make use of his premises.
Our research into the various pubs and hotels of the area is coming along but we’d like your help to bring it to life. We’re currently looking into:
If you used to frequent any of these venues, or know anyone who did, if you have memories from or photographs of these pubs and hotels, we’d love to hear about it in the comments on this blog."