A mosey ’round Merseyside (Liverpool #2)

The story so far…

Mum and I went to Liverpool over the Easter break. On Day 1 we did a Magical Mystery Tour, took the Ferry Across the Mersey, trawled through The Beatles Story and sweated it out at the Cavern Club. It was an excellent and very musically-themed beginning to our trip but there was much more to come. Here’s what happened next.

On Day 2, we started out with a City Explorer Bus Ride to orient ourselves with the other things to see and do in Liverpool. Our guide on the bus had a traditional Liverpudlian accent which Mum mentioned was sometimes hard to understand. Speaking of Mum here she is on the bus, taking photos (a common sight when one travels with my mother) and her version of rugging up against the blustery cold wind.

Mum in Liverpool

We then spent some time wandering around Albert Dock, taking more photos…

Albert Dock

Liverpool architecture

Top: The three graces of Liverpool Bottom: View from Albert Dock

…and visiting the International Slavery Museum.

Slave museum

We spent a couple of hours here. It was a great follow up to the Sugar and Slavery walking tour that I did in London in March and I must say that I left not only shocked by the legacy of the slave trade from the 15th and 16th centuries but devastated that slavery continues to prosper in places like India and Africa (just to name two).

We topped off our more leisurely day with a nanna nap back at the hotel before a fab dinner just around the corner at Jamie’s Italian (complete with a friendly waiter who had just returned from travelling in Australia).

Our final day dawned and with a mid-afternoon departure scheduled, we decided to spend our remaining time exploring on foot with a view to visiting Liverpool’s two cathedrals en route.

The streets behind the hotel yielded some interesting ‘art’…

Street scenes Liverpool

…but we did find our way to Chinatown…


…before heading to our first place of worship, the gothic-inspired Liverpool Cathedral.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral - exterior

It was magnificent, full of soaring arches and stained glass. I particularly loved the intimacy and quiet of the Lady Chapel and the series of windows dedicated to some of the important women in English history…

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral - Chapel windows

After a fortifying coffee in the cathedral cafe, where we gazed out over the nave spotted with coloured light from the windows, it was time to head up Hope Street…


…to the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

This is the seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool and while it may not have the same traditional look as its Anglican counterpart at the other end of Hope Street, Paddy’s Wigwam (as it is also known) is Grade II listed. Originally the cathedral was to be the largest in Europe, planned to be on a par with St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City but after several years and millions of pounds invested, only the crypt was completed and work stopped as the money dried up.

However, it was generally acknowledged that Liverpool still needed a cathedral and so Frederick Gibberd, winner of a world-wide design competition, built the existing cathedral between 1962 and 1967. He managed to do this within both the time period specified (five years) and the one million pound budget as well as preserving the crypt which is now used for all sorts of events and concerts.

After I got over my shock at its modernity, the space and light really grew on me and after wandering through the crypt as well, I left feeling more inspired by this unconventional tribute to faith than the traditional magnificence of the Anglican Cathedral at the bottom of the hill.

There was not much time left to explore so we headed back to the hotel to collect our things and made our way to Lime Street Station to catch our train back to London – just in time! But here are a few of the other places we saw on our final foray through the streets of Liverpool…

Liverpool street scenes 2

Clockwise from top left: The Everyman Theatre stands at the top end of Hope Street opposite the Metropolitan Cathedral; The Monro Gastropub in Duke Street, a former merchant’s house built in 1765, was named in honour of the first passenger service scheduled between Liverpool and New York in 1817; St Luke’s Church was built in the early 1800s and was badly damaged in the Liverpool Blitz of 1941 – the ruins are Grade II listed; the Philharmonic Pub on Hope Street, another Grade II listed building, was built for local brewer Robert Cain at the end of the 19th century.

And so that, my friends, was our Merseyside mosey. Liverpool turned out to be a great city with plenty to see and do so I hope you enjoyed the armchair tour.

A Liverpudlian Tipple…

I was in Liverpool for work last week (yes I know, this Gidday Gal’s been getting around a bit of late) and as part of the conference agenda was a Brewery Tour.

What? I hear you say. No Fab Four tour?

No, but ours was a magical mystery tour of a completely different kind.

Cains Brewery was started by young Irish immigrant, Robert Cain who bought his first pub in Limekiln Street, Liverpool at the tender age of 24. In 1858, just eight years later, Cain’s hard work enabled him to buy the site on the corner of Stanhope Street where his brewery still stands today – and is the site of our tour.

Twenty-five years later, Robert Cain was one of the wealthiest and most influential businessman in Liverpool, having built over 200 pubs Mersey-side (and a palatial mansion for himself) as well as a reputation for exceptional quality. Of beer I mean. I can’t speak for any of his other predelictions.

In 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, Cain began work on the red brick brewery and ornate tower that still in use today (I can attest to this personally) and remains a Liverpool landmark and upon his death in 1907 (at the age of 81) more than 3,000 mourners attended this ‘adopted local’ lad’s funeral.

But it’s been a checkered past for Cain’s. During the 1900s, the brewery changed hands 5 times. A merger with Walkers of Warrington in 1911 saw the newly formed business become one of Britain’s top 50 companies by 1918. Then in 1923, the Stanhope Brewery was sold to Higson’s. – Cain’s continued to flourish until Higson’s sold out to Boddington’s of Manchester in 1985. The company then faced a further change of ownership 5 years later as Boddington’s divested its breweries to Whitbread who then closed the landmark brewery. In 1990, the site was reopened by The Danish Brewery Group who renamed it Robert Cain & Co Ltd but despite brewing a popular Liverpudlian pint, in 2002 the business found itself on the brink of closure.

The current owners, the Dusanj brothers, were inspired by the ethos and tradition of Robert Cain & Company and believing that success could not only be found for the product in Liverpool but around the world, mounted a rescue operation. Under their stewardship, Cains now brews more than 120 million pints a year and is one of the fastest-growing brewers in the country.

One of the innovations brought to market by the brothers is Cain’s Fine Raisin Beer which has won a few awards including Winner of Tesco’s Autumn Beer Challenge in 2003, “Beer of the Festival” at the 2004 Liverpool CAMRA Festival and “World’s Best Fruit Beer” at the World Beer Awards in 2007.

So I tried it – well it seemed rude not to – and quite liked it. Although it does not taste like raisins. Whether this is good or bad, I will leave you to decide.

In true immigrant-made-good fashion, Robert Cain had become a legendary brewmaster, married the Liverpool Lord Mayor’s daughter (he’s a mover and shaker that one) and was enobled as Lord Brocket (although what he would have made of his great-great grandson’s antics on I’m a Celebrity… in 2004 we’ll never know!).

Photo courtesy of officialpubguide.com

The Brewery is open to the public for tours and apart from the history lesson, you get to see how all that lovely beer is made and then get yourself a little tipple or two on the house at the The Brewery Tap which adjoins the brewery.

Not bad for £7.99 eh? 

Sigh…I love my job!