Next on our Liverpool drinking agenda was the Good Beer Guide listed Bridewell pub. CAMRA’s Whatpub notes that it’s where the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood was formed and I note this having no idea whether that’s true, but I’m using this fun fact as I’m pleased that I’ve heard of a band.
One of the draws of the pub is its history and that’s evident from its name, it’s a former prison. The word ‘Bridewell’ comes from part of Bridewell Palace in Westminster was used as a jail. The former prison cells are part of the venue and we were hoping to be able to sit in one of them. The venue is very well reviewed on-line and it seemed to attract a diverse range of ages and a mixture of locals and visitors. I liked this review:
“Not allowed to play live or loud music what’s the point”
Good. Anyway, I digress.
The pub has a comprehensive history of their building on their web-site:
“The Bridewell – Argyle Street bridewell and fire station was built in the 1840’s at a cost of £2675 and was mainly used as a lock up, playing host to over refreshed and excitable seamen and dockers, there were 7 cells which housed over 100 “guests” each month, bread was free as was the floor – if you required use of a bed or better food then these would have to be paid for. Charles Dickens was sworn in as a special constable for one night only in 1860 whilst researching his novel “The Uncommercial Traveller”
The Building ceased to be used as a prison in 1932 but was brought back to life during the second world war by the US military – rumours of German POW and conscientious objectors – but as these activities were shrouded in mystery for fear of letting the enemy discover, any evidence has been lost in the passages of time.
A nightly bucket of Guinness was supplied to The Bridewell patrol from the Guinness boats that were tied up at the nearby Salthouse Docks, and there are tales of staff from the nearby Guinness bottling factory on Norfolk Street bringing buckets of Guinness to encourage the Sergeant to let their friends and family out.”
Here’s another of my Untappd photos. The beer is the Three Swords from Kirkstall and it was well kept and at the appropriate temperature, a reliable pale ale.
After a bit of waiting, we were able to sit inside a former cell and I then immediately decided it was too hot. I like to add my constant joy to proceedings. They clearly didn’t worry much about air conditioning for these prisoners in the nineteenth century.
Oooh, another Untappd photo. This beer is the True Grit from Millstone, a slightly thin pale ale where I couldn’t detect the grapefruit aroma that the brewer mentioned.
We got talking, or rather more accurately Bev got talking as is her wont, to a local who gave us a list of places that he thought we should visit. He was a friendly soul and keen to help, although many of his suggestions seemed to involve getting a train to somewhere else which seemed to take away a little from the point of visiting Liverpool. But I always enjoy getting some local insight and I’m impressed him briefly, for around ten seconds, with my knowledge of Everton football club in the 1980s. Always up-to-date I am…..
There were lots of elements to this visit that I liked, although I’ll put how busy and hot it was to one side as that’s not really the venue’s fault that they’re popular. Well, it is, but I can’t be negative about that. The heritage was of course exciting, it reminded me a little of the The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Keswick. The service was prompt and despite being busy the team members were mostly serving customers in turn, which often isn’t the case and it’s sometimes a little sub-optimal. The landlord was visible throughout the service, whether serving drinks, fixing things or trying to gather customers back in to his licensed area outside the front of the pub. It’s definitely a recommended venue as far as I’m concerned, I’d visit here again as it’s evidently very well run.