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Shopped: Turmeaus Tobacconist, Fenwick Street

Ben Patey thinks about taking up cigar smoking after a trip to this ancient emporium, but a free puff makes him gag very badly (and we don't just mean the jokes)

Published on June 1st 2009.


Shopped: Turmeaus Tobacconist, Fenwick Street

Where
Turmeaus Tobacconist
34 Fenwick Street
Liverpool
L2 7NB
0151 236 3802

History
The Mayans of Central America are thought to have been the first people to use tobacco almost 2,000 years ago. Way before it caught on with the Europeans, the early American-Indians designed a Y-shaped nose pipe. The bottom end of the tube was placed into a small pile of burning tobacco leaves and the smoker inhaled the smoke up their nostrils. This explains the plethora of Red Indians in and outside the store on Fenwick Street.

Today, Turmeaus Tobacconists are the second oldest tobacconists in the country. The French Turmeaus brothers who started the business in 1817 once ran a chain of six shops across the city. The shop opened on Castle Street (site of the old National West building) then onto Water Street where it stayed until May last year when it moved to its current location due to the foreseen upheaval that renovation work would cause.

Over the years cigars have been popularised by the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Winston Churchill, Fidel Castro and of course Lieutenant Colombo who only needed a puff from his cigar before rendering a murderer as good as jailed.

What does it sell?
As you'd expect the place is a tobacco enthusiast's sweet shop. The many varieties are lined up in the same jars that you'd have bought your jelly babies from. Strawberry tobacco, cherry, vanilla... The jars even read like those in a confectionery store.

That said, there are many tobaccos you can buy here that don't contain any chemicals. American Spirit is one such additive free brand.

Turmeaus also sells snuff for clearing the airways with, every cigar under the sun, continental cigarettes (Cohiba,

Cogue, Gaulois) as well as the boring English and American varieties and also lots and lots of pipes and pipe accessories.

Who shops there?
While you'd be right in guessing that the average customer is over the half-century mark, we're also informed that there are punters much younger who do inhale and prefer a classier kind of fag.

Why shop there?
We wouldn't recommend starting up a new hobby now. However, for those already in the grip, Turmeaus have the finest and most enticing range of tobacco, cigars and cigarettes for commercial sale seen since we encountered an enterprising Bootle chap and his backpack in a city centre pub recently.

And did you know... Turmeaus is one of only 20 stores in England, where it's legally OK to smoke cigars or pipe tobacco on the premises - a place where you can smoke without taking your butt outside, so to speak.

The prices are competitive - £5-£6 for a middle range cigar and just under £8 for the most expensive cigarettes (Subranie Cocktail)

Future
Despite the relocations, new owners, smoking campaigns and smoking bans, the shop remains defiant and business shows no signs of disappearing into ashes just yet.

Verdict
A striking light

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

Jim Morrisons ghostJuly 21st 2008.

I recommend the Salvia Divinorum blend.

The Smoking Gobelin!July 21st 2008.

I have been smoking a pipe for over 40 years even though according to the Anti-smokers, I should have passed over to the great ashtray in the sky 20 years ago..But I am still around, and plan to haunt turmeaus when I do move on, as I love the place!! So be warned...be nice to the girls in the shop.....

University FlakeJuly 21st 2008.

Since I took up pipe smoking I have had phenomenal success with the ladies and my life has been transformed.

Alfred NestorJuly 21st 2008.

In my last posts on this section, I was under the name of, 'The Smoking Gobelin', and everything I said there, still stands.We are supposed to be living in a 'free' Country, but I am starting to wonder. The Anti-Smokers shout and scream about us smokers spoiling their 'clean' air, and making them ill...I wish people would stop to think for a change. If people have good manners, they would never smoke in an area where people are eating their food, nor in a Hospital, for example. Good manners, that's all. But, what is so wrong with having 'smoking area's' in pubs or other area's? The staff who work there, would 'know' that its a smoking area, and if they don't like it...well..don't work there...after all its ' Free Country' or is it?Where will all this 'anti-smoking' end? Are they going to shoot all smokers..on sight? or put us in prison? No of course not, after all the Government get lots of tax of us, as they do from all the things that we enjoy doing, so they are not going to make it illegal, other than make us smokers 'feel' unclean, and give 'lip service' to the anti-smokers. How about a little common sense for a change, and allow people to enjoy themselves.

surrealistbeautyfairyJuly 21st 2008.

dear asbo, esq- i dont smoke and there is nothing in my pipe except the imagined labyrinths of hazy mazes full of frock coat men that are all like jeremy irons. egads you pipe- ttes! x me

60 Year-Old Jeremy IronsJuly 21st 2008.

Eh? What the...?

Ålsbo BlackJuly 21st 2008.

Are you sure that is proper tobacco in your meerschaum, Young Miss?

The Smoking Gobelin!July 21st 2008.

You are right Denys, but the Fenwick Street shop is smaller than when they were at Water Street, though the window is larger, so the girls have to use what they have! But its still the same regards content as in the old shop. If you go in first thing in the morning, you get a wonderful aroma of tobacco, which takes me back to the 'Good Old Days'. I just 'love' it! Mind you, if you listen to all the 'experts' no doubt even 'that' is bad for you...Its a wonder that all us 'old' people are living so much longer, after all...everything we ever enjoyed, such as smoking, eating and drinking, is very bad for us...I wonder how many of the young people will get to our advanced ages, breathing in the healthy diesel fumes from the buses, eating the modern foods treated with 'healthy' chemicals, and smoking their 'legal' drugs.....Maybe thats what the experts want! Not so many 'old' folks around in the future?

90 Year-Old ManJuly 21st 2008.

Ooh! What a lovely girl you are!

DigJuly 21st 2008.

It's expensive but definately worth purchasing some common sense. What has your life been like without it Leon?

surrealistbeautyfairyJuly 21st 2008.

oh how i wish there were elegant men a walking down bold st who offer a be gloved hand still attached of course to their wrist to this charming brunette beauty who was born in the wrong age and maybe elegantly smoke a meershaum pipe or better a cigarette in a holder in a sort of fay alluringly effete way. like jeremy irons. exquisite man that he is. turn of the century man is better than squeaky voice beckham. behold the pipe shop for it is one of the few quirky old world things left here. and i dont smoke either. i fume sometimes when 90 year old men stare at me dribbling and say what a lovely girl i am. or when primark is crammed with the brethren of liverpool in their charming push and shove manner.

Mr PateyJuly 21st 2008.

Is there a particular tobacco you could recommend for a beginner please Lord Street? Also whilst smoking a pipe, what attire would you suggest? I want to look the part you see

surrealistbeautyfairyJuly 21st 2008.

oh how i wish there were elegant men a walking down bold st who offer a be gloved hand still attached of course to their wrist to this charming brunette beauty who was born in the wrong age and maybe elegantly smoke a meershaum pipe or better a cigarette in a holder in a sort of fay alluringly effete way. like jeremy irons. exquisite man that he is. turn of the century man is better than squeaky voice beckham. behold the pipe shop for it is one of the few quirky old world things left here. and i dont smoke either. i fume sometimes when 90 year old men stare at me dribbling and say what a lovely girl i am. or when primark is crammed with the brethren of liverpool in their charming push and shove manner.

Lord StreetJuly 21st 2008.

Try a pipe, Mr. Patey! Unlike a cigar you can choose the tobacco to suit your tastes and 'break you in gently'. Also you can smoke a bowlful in 'instalments', something to consider in our Big Brother society and smoking bans in our former hostelries!

Dunhill CavendishJuly 21st 2008.

Hear hear, I have a pipe-smoking chum of nineteen!

DenysJuly 21st 2008.

Marvellous shop. But the old shop front as shown in the picture looks FAR more enticing. The plastiky looking new one somehow doesnt go with the aura of tobacco, pipes etc. And Liverpool really needs more speciality shops like this. Good luck to it.

leon kayJuly 21st 2008.

hurray Ill be a customer. a vote for common sense shops.Stick that in your pipe you anti smoking barstewards

surrealistbeautyfairyJuly 21st 2008.

oh how i wish there were elegant men a walking down bold st who offer a be gloved hand still attached of course to their wrist to this charming brunette beauty who was born in the wrong age and maybe elegantly smoke a meershaum pipe or better a cigarette in a holder in a sort of fay alluringly effete way. like jeremy irons. exquisite man that he is. turn of the century man is better than squeaky voice beckham. behold the pipe shop for it is one of the few quirky old world things left here. and i dont smoke either. i fume sometimes when 90 year old men stare at me dribbling and say what a lovely girl i am. or when primark is crammed with the brethren of liverpool in their charming push and shove manner.

AnonymousMarch 14th 2014.

How my husband - John Turmeau would have loved to visit your shop in Liverpool. He was a pipe smoker.

AnonymousMarch 14th 2014.

It's a little known fact that "turmeau" is ancient Navajo Indian for "slow lingering death looking like a shrivelled prune while thinking 'I wish I'd never got hooked on this cancerous shit'

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