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Bar Essentials: Liverpool One Bridewell

We meet the people who are great behind bars in Liverpool's newest pub

Written by . Published on May 27th 2011.

Bar Essentials: Liverpool One Bridewell

What's the story?
Located within the cluster of warehouses in the Duke Street area, the Bridewell, or Police Station, dates from the 1850s. Grade II Listed, this solid brick built building is on two storeys, all closely surrounded by a 12ft high wall.

In the 19th century, this was a place for bad people. Pimps, vagabonds, murderers, thieves... if they got their collar felt, they could look forward to a night in here as the guest of Her Majesty Queen Victoria before going before the beak in the morning.

5628889900_c2317a74b7_b.jpgAye, they didn't take any prisoners in those days.
Oh yes they did. First stop, here. Last stop Botany Bay, picking up scabies and sea shanties on the way.

What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?
They locked them up as well. The Bridewell wasn't built near the docks, near the main lodging areas for merchant seamen, for nothing.

It sounds all very Dickensian
In every sense. Charles Dickens was once made a special constable here for one day in 1860 while researching a book.

Enough history. Bring me up to date please
In more recent times the Bridewell has been used as a rather fancy restaurant, first by Colin McKeown, the TV producer, and then by Jalons. Both ventures came, in the end, to nothing. Now the venue has been taken over by chef/musician Paul Fitzgerald and his four ale-loving pals, not as an eating place, but as a pub, the Liverpool One Bridewell. It opened just six weeks ago.

20052011564.jpgWho goes there?
They are aiming for “everyone between the ages of 18 and 80,” says Paul (right). The pub is nothing to do with Liverpool One, but it's near enough to the hustle and bustle of the shops and the offices there to attract a varying crowd.

It is also smack in the middle of the old Kent Gardens area, now newbuild apartments for single bearded types (that's just the women) and the maturing council houses created in the Degsy days. So on our visit we saw couples in their twenties, pensioners and people who work at the nearby cop shop in Canning Place – no doubt drawn to their spiritual clink.

What's yours?
Here's the USP. The Bridewell is owned by the people who operate the Liverpool One Brewery. This isn't anything to do with Grosvenor either, but a micro outfit in Vauxhall. Four local lads who have worked in the licensed trade for many years.

They say “We enjoy good quality local beer at reasonable prices so decided to open up our own brewery.” Head Brewer Gary Rice has spent over ten years as a licensee in Liverpool managing a number of pubs and bars including the Baltic Fleet, where most of the staff here have come from. Now there's a good reference.

20052011568.jpgExpect at least five real ales on the bar from the brewery, such as Liverpool Ginger, a light and citrussy brew which depicts the city's most formidable gingers, Ann Robinson and Cilla Black on the pump clips. The Three Graces, a straw coloured light ale, hopped three times with Super Styrians to provide an intense bitter bite and a new lager called Ein Stein.

Also on draught is Leifman's Fruitesse (£4.60 a pint) which went down extremely well on this spring evening after work. Who said nothing of note ever came out of Belgium?

Speaking of which, there's a big stock of continental beers in bottles, poured in their characteristic glassware. Plus, from the kegs, Erdinger Weiss Bier, Becks Vier, Stella Artois & Kronenbourg 1664 as well as Gaymers Cider & Murphys Irish Stout. 

Last but not least,  a real ale called  The Governor - a recipe of Marco Pierre White's. Did it contain Knorr stock cubes? No, we were firmly told, it's bootiful.

Grub up
The food, all cooked on the premises and served up until 7.45pm, was pretty good too.

Paul used to be in a band called Eat My Dog, but he swears, as he goes back in the kitchen to make it, that there is nothing wuff aout the burgers.

A substantial breaded "fish finger" was sandwiched in a lovely, soft ciabatta (£7) with salad and plenty of creamy tartare sauce. Then there was a  bowl of thick, steaming and tasty scouse (£6.50),  and a super home made steak and dark ale pie (£7.50).

It's all traditional pub fodder. They don't want to be a gastropub, says Paul. It's all about honest beer and honest food at honest prices with no pretensions.

Why go there?
It's in the city centre, it is off the beaten track, the setting is unique and lends itself perfectly to a pub space, and it is doing something in that end of town that nobody else is. And, apart from the bits of ill-fitting bling left over from the Jalons days - which, they vow will eventually go - it was all in the best possible taste. Could one day be classified under “hidden urban gems” this place. Could be...

20052011569.jpgWhat's the craic?
Live music once a fortnight, barbecues outside in the summer, an upstairs dining room open at weekends.... The main feature of the Bridewell, however, is not the cellars, but the cells which you can book for a meal or park yourself in for quiet pint in while doing the crossword.

But we liked the cool, York stone floors, the outside courtyard, the knowledgeable staff,  the good-for-a-gab punters who have already discovered it and the sunlight streaming in through those iron-barred windows.

Not to mention the beer, which is, obviously, in good nick.

Ein Stein a go-go.

Where again?
Liverpool One Bridewell, 1 Campbell Square, Liverpool. 0151 709 7000.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mark McNultyMay 27th 2011.

Went last week and it was fantastic!

Martin FouldsMay 27th 2011.

I agree Mark. This is a real find and I am glad the Bridewell has got people in there who seem to give an honest toss about it. Just happened across it ourselves a couple of weeks ago. Excellent beer and setting.

AnonymousMay 27th 2011.


Alan HirdMay 27th 2011.

It all sounds fantastic, so the original brewery Cains now has a local rivalry. It's good to know whilst around most of Britain pubs are going under, new pubs are opening in Liverpool. Must result in some people in Liverpool saying "recession what what recession"?

Elliott BMay 27th 2011.

Cains bitter is not much good at all these days. Landlords are cancelling it in pubs all over the city. It doesn't travel well. Distribution centre is in Warrington. Shame. Nobody is even sure if it is being brewed in Stanhope Street any more....

1 Response: Reply To This...
Alan HirdMay 28th 2011.

What about Cains Export Lager or Cains Formidable Ale. Formidable Ale still tastes good in Dr.Duncan's certainly the last time I was in there last December.
Cains distribution centre in Warrington??? time to e-mail info@cains.co.uk me thinks.

Reader XxxAugust 20th 2011.

Cracking location, beer and food. I copied the review from here for one of my shots. Credited and linked: www.flickr.com/…/photostream…

Elaine ParsonageApril 7th 2012.

I visited last year and again last week. I love the history of the place, and the staff were friendly, as well as good drinks.We thoroughly enjoyed the live music. We will be back soon. Thanks everyone.

AnonymousApril 8th 2012.

Deffo gonna try this, sounds great. Ref Cains; Anyone tried the double Bock? In bottles from Tesco, absolute nectar!

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