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The Vote: Are you brassed off by drinking dens on your doorstep?

Licensed premises in Lark Lane and Allerton Road, and their boozed-up revellers, have reached saturation point - in every sense

Published on September 24th 2009.


The Vote: Are you brassed off by drinking dens on your doorstep?
Yes: - 44%
No: - 56%

THEY have long been among the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city: Plenty of interesting shops, good schools, Victorian villas of all shapes and sizes to live in, and lots and lots of swishing, leafy trees.

Now they are said to be marred by late night rackets, urine splattered doorways and littered streets at dawn, a 75 per cent rise in criminal damage, and an increase in violence and assaults.

Welcome to Allerton Road and Lark Lane where residents are so fed up with the number of bars, pubs and restaurants that have moved in that action is being planned. And it will be a UK first.

Future applications for more bars and restaurants in the two south Liverpool districts could be blocked under council proposals being discussed next week at a licensing hearing.

The “cumulative impact policy” would allow people to insist, for the first time, that there are too many licensed premises in these areas and that they and their clientele are saturating the place, in every sense.

Up until now objectors could only put forward arguments about an individual application, but most of new bars were subsequently agreed.

There are 20 licensed premises on Lark Lane and 32 on Allerton Road (one in almost every third shop, says Richard Kemp, one of the councillors backing the move) with a further nine agreed for nearby Smithdown Place, Smithdown Road, Church Road, Penny Lane and Blenheim Road

But is this really necessary? Isn't it cracking a nut with a sledgehammer, punishing the majority of responsible patrons, who like to socialise in their local area, for the irresponsible actions of a few?

After all, at the start of the 1990s, there were no bars at all on Allerton Road, owing to a covenant stretching all the way down to Liverpool 8 prohibiting licensed premises. If you wanted a pint and didn't want to take your chances in the “colourful” Fogherty's off Smithdown, you were forced to get the bus into town. It was most inconvenient.

And let's consider the nightlife in Lark Lane. Hasn't it always been the reason people want to live there? And hasn't that driven up the property prices?

On the other hand, why should families have their peace and day to day life wrecked by opportunist incomer licensees allowing punters to get horribly spent up and drunk before spilling them out onto the quiet streets.

And if the council is really committed to cutting the number of bars, could it not reduce the business rates so that other types of traders could afford to open up in these locations?

All these questions. Vote on the homepage!

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

Hesketh GroveSeptember 3rd 2009.

Of course it's awful, which is why I moved out of Lark Lane in the mid-1980s when it became a drinking destination for the yoberati. I started to find bloodstains spattered onto my car on the mornings from fights, my landlords had three cars stolen in succession by drunken 'revellers' and the general ‘Ealing comedy’ atmosphere of faded gentility that made Lark Lane so attractive was rapidly becoming a memory. The two pubs were ‘made-over’ to catch the latest fad with depressing regularity.It is true that a booming night-life does attract people into the area and house prices rocket, but they are always the wrong kind of people and the property prices mean that the junkshops, general stores, stationers, chandlers, fishmongers, grocers, antique shops, bookshops, bakers, garages, etc. that made the area pleasant, attractive and convenient are priced out of the area, their premises invariably being turned into bars, restaurants and junk food sellers. I remember reading in the Echo during the bar boom of the 1990s that bars were popular enterprises with criminals because the tills could launder thousands of pounds worth of drug-trade cash without arousing suspicion. I don’t know if this still applies.

Penny LaneSeptember 3rd 2009.

If you wanted a drink near Allerton Road before 1990 you either walked to rather ‘nayce’ 'The Rose of Mossley' on Rose Lane which had been there since the 1930s, or to Derek Hatton’s rather more scally ‘Kascades’ bar that opened in the 1980s in the former premises of historic car dealership A.E. Reynolds also on Rose Lane. There were also new bars opening on Smithdown Road in former shop premises. It wasn't as inconvenient as the article would have you believe!

Sefton residentSeptember 3rd 2009.

I lived on Penny Lane in the 1990s and if you wanted just a drink it was either the Penny Lane Wine Bar, Fogherty's with all the loonies battering each other or The Tavern where you would be in the dark, or the extremely depressing and anodyne Dovedale Towers. Not a proper boozer among them (the Richmond is still awful) until you took a long walk down to the Willow Bank miles away or to Wavertree High Street. I take it it is still the same?

Rose LaneSeptember 3rd 2009.

I'm sure there was a British Legion or some other social club open to the public near Penny Lane, and there was The Brook House and The Willow Bank, both of which were at least Edwardian if not older, all within an easy walk of Allerton Road. Of course Allerton Road was much more upmarket in those days than the rowdy Skid Row it is now.

Sefton residentSeptember 3rd 2009.

Exactly, which is why I moved. Does Tommy the Brush still live there?

queeny eyeSeptember 3rd 2009.

I saw an excellent fight outside The Albert a couple of months ago. Bare knuckled men. It was like The Wire. In Keith's, where I was drinking (another toilet these days) they were playing some hip hop music which provided a most fitting "mood" soundtrack to the violent action across the road.

Rose LaneSeptember 3rd 2009.

I haven't seen Tommy the Brush since smoking was banned in the Everyman Bistro!

Time, gentleman please...September 3rd 2009.

Is the Richmond a newish place off Church Road where the landlord famously had his skull shattered with a bar stool? Last I heard it was my brother's favourite haunt.

Former Sefton ParkerSeptember 3rd 2009.

Was it my eyes or was Lark Lane featured in a full-page magazine advert for 'Fox Bingo' (whatever that is) in the last year or so?

Ay!Carmela!September 3rd 2009.

The days of Lark Lane being a delightful place to drink amongst a cast of amusing bohemian eccentrics and assorted musos have long gone. The atmosphere in The Albert can be downright evil with weasel-faced, shaven headed, North Face shell suited monkey men gracing the corridors.It's like drinking in a panzertruppen barracks circa 1938.

Ay!Indeed!September 3rd 2009.

I remember when Lark Lane was a proper bohemian area because flats could be rented cheaply. Students, lecturers, workers, artists tradesmen and theatre folk lived happily among Miss Havisham types and their retainers who had lived there all their lives. The Albert was a proper old man's pub then with original fittings, not the present fake ‘old’ fittings bought in when the owners decided that the 80s-style blue wallpaper, artificial flowers and chromium picture-frames put in only a few years before no longer fitted the bill. A real old man’s pub it had real old men in the bar and one evening in 1981 two of them had a hilarious fight in slow-motion as they were both so doddery and hammered it was the only way. All gone now, just so a lot of dreary owner-occupiers can smugly smirk about their property values in what they refer to as “the Aigburth Corridor, yeah?!”

Ay! 'appenSeptember 3rd 2009.

I notice that the Korova people have taken over 52 Lark Lane with a restaurant called "Low". New low. Oh dear.

Fran & ToneSeptember 3rd 2009.

'Low' - after the political cartoonist?

Liverpool wagSeptember 3rd 2009.

Low? What are you talking about?

Another Sefton residentSeptember 3rd 2009.

Idiots used to call South Road in Waterloo the Lark Lane of the North. That was rubbish of course because South Roadwas full of establishments run by "businessmen". Now you could call Lark Lane the South Road of the south. If that makes sense...

Hadassah GroveSeptember 3rd 2009.

The night-life definitely isn’t the reason people move to Lark Lane. I moved there because of the unique charm the place had in those days. Though it was in the city it had a curious atmosphere like an ideal street from the imagination, part ‘Passport to Pimlico’, part Rupert’s Nutwood. You could have imagined it as the subject of a Ladybird book. It had proper old-fashioned shops and small businesses, a Tesco and the shops of Aigburth Road (including a traditional sweetshop) at one end, Sevvie Park at the other. The Lane itself had two pubs, a cobbler’s, three greengrocer’s, hippy-run junkshops, ‘antique’ shops, a traditional open-fronted fishmonger’s, a barber’s, two chip shops, a bakery, two off-licences, a proper old-fashioned post office, an old garage that serviced Rolls Royces and sold petrol, a proper chandler’s that sold everything from teapots to Reckitt’s Blue and draught paraffin to heat your chilly Victorian abode, a Council depôt, a motor museum, a GPO depôt, a secondhand bookshop, a modish ‘deli’, a community centre in an old police station, a French restaurant, several grocers’ shops and Chinese restaurant. The thing is that all the time I lived there I drank in town on the traditional Cracke/Phil/Everyman/Caza circuit and only very rarely drank in the Lane itself, after all it was the suburbs. The newer places starting to open there were relatively expensive and attracted only spivs and idiots. I see that this is still the case.The nightlife wasn’t the reason people move to Lark Lane – it was popular with proper bohemians in the seventies and early eighties because it was cheap and very pleasant to live there, the exact opposite of today.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2009.

I used to love Lark Lane and although there are still some great places there - Elif's and the Moon & Pea amongst them, the rest has sadly gone down hill. Will Keith's EVER sort out those filthy toilets? The dirt in there has stopped me going in (along with the ear splitting music and the sullen staff) and the Albert is actually a disgrace, with the threat of violence ever present.Sort it out someone.On the up side - it's great that the book shop is back and some one is running a fruit and veg stall - the farmers' market is cool too - but, oh dear, the bars are terrible.I'm not a snob but I don't want to feel threatened when I'm having a quiet pint and I don't want to walk in on scally women taking coke in the bog!

Ay!Carmela!September 3rd 2009.

So where should I move to? Is there a quiet enclave of bohemian eccentricity that the residents are keeping very quiet about? A Walton Eco Village, perhaps?

WappingSeptember 3rd 2009.

Low is named after the title of one of David Bowie's dullest albums and the place is themed accordingly. Inside looks like it was laid out as a school project. A new Low indeed.

KnowledgeableSeptember 3rd 2009.

You should come up to Waterloo, our Ay! L17's finest have been coming up here for 10 years now. Bracing air, lovely houses, sea, sand and, best of all, no vile purple bins. Admitttedly, South Road's nightlife is as bad as Allerton Road, but you can help change that! You and Ay!

DigSeptember 3rd 2009.

South Road as bad as Allerton Road? That's an understatement. I'd rather drink in Mathew Street with a Manchester United top on. Although that cottage gaff on the corner isn't bad. The name of which evades me.

Liverpool wagSeptember 3rd 2009.

Do you like a bit of cottaging, Dig?

La vie BohemeSeptember 3rd 2009.

An old fart speaks: I remember when Lark Lane was two pubs, a chippy and a so-so Chinese, and that was that. Keith's was great when it started, l'Alouette and Marantos were useful additions to the scene, but now it's just bonkers.Tesco single-handedly destroyed the Allerton Road shops, and I suppose the bars and restaurants are better than having the place boarded up. But I'm glad I don't live there any moreNow it's come full circle and those wanting a congenial night out are reverting to Liverpool 8. What goes around, comes around, I suppose.Tommy the Brush spotted less than 24 hours ago in Peter Kavanaghs, by the way.

DigSeptember 3rd 2009.

Ha ha yeah I love it. Great around your way. Waterloo, the Lark Lane and Brighton of the north! I shouldn't joke like that. Somebody might take me serious and invite me to Liverpool Is Burning or something like that.

scrittipolittiSeptember 3rd 2009.

So where do all you "I remember whens" live now? It's not like Liverpool is overflowing with cafe culture. It's been the most systematically anti-bohemian city for a long while (apart from the North East) and it has never figured out that being a working class city doesn't mean you provide the citizens with undifferentiated crap to eat and drink. Lark Lane may not be how you remembered it but it's a lot better than most of this McDonaldised, Bargain Boozified, shopping mall we call contemporary Britain. Sefton Park is a jewel and this would be improved by one act of demolition: that brick lavatory that they call a Cafe -- how about a taste of the continent? It will scare the crackheads, and give me somewhere to read Sartre and think about being and nothingness -- you wanted the bohemians back didn't yer??

WappingSeptember 3rd 2009.

Hey scritti, we wanted bohos but we got bozos.

scrittipolittiSeptember 3rd 2009.

believe me, wapping, I can hum a mean "blowin in the wind". Are you telling me that Tony Crompton's crack fuelled poetic postcards are not signs that the informal economy of creative Liverpool is not alive and well in Lark lane....?

Liverpool wagSeptember 3rd 2009.

Yes, that's true, Scritti. It was all downhill after Trifle Pants.....

Recovering alcoholicSeptember 3rd 2009.

I was going to go home to the wife, but all this talk of saturated trousers, Lark Lane bohemians and bare knuckle fights is having an effect. Now I'm on the Central Station Platform. Sobriety and my new life in Hall Road? The People's Poet and obliteration down the lane?

Sefton ParkerSeptember 3rd 2009.

The Café in Sefton Park is one of the few surviving original buildings it has – the boathouse and pavilions were all burnt down or destroyed by vandals official or otherwise. As a little lad in the late 1960s I loved going to the aviary too. It was the Council's abolition of the Park Police that caused the park's degeneration.The Palm House was a splendid place until at least the mid 80s when the Council abandoned it to vandals and thieves who stole most of the statues and smashed all the glassThe café needs to be restored and run properly – and the clock fixed.

Sir Howard WaySeptember 3rd 2009.

Don't be daft, Scrittipolitti, real bohemians haven't been able to afford to live in Lark Lane for years. Even the most tediously money-grubbing of the bourgeois would have to be making a very good living to be able to afford to live there these days. Canning Street lasted a decade or so longer but that has gone the same way.

scrittipolittiSeptember 3rd 2009.

ah the "real bohemians" ... yes when the old Sefton park villas were full of DSS flats run by Slumlords and people were happy about being poor and in one of the 10,000 bands in L'pool. I remember that. Then I got a job. Nostalgia, what a wonderful place to be....

Sir Howard WaySeptember 3rd 2009.

Most people had jobs, but it was still the place to live. You're just an embittered, anti-smoking, bourgeois mysanthrope.

DigSeptember 3rd 2009.

Where is this Nostalgia I keep hearing so much about? Is it by Sefton Park? Are Nostalgians nice people?

scrittipolittiSeptember 3rd 2009.

Nostalgia is situated right in the middle of Sir Howard Way . . . . it's a long way from Bourgeois Misanthropy but they love smoke and all its charms...By the way, just cos I don't like you doesn't make me a misanthrope, Howard...

Beau HemianSeptember 3rd 2009.

Nostalgia has been badly hit by the recession with major job losses. My advice is move up the road to Jeopardy where I hear there are loads of jobs. Aye-thenk-you.

Miss Anne ThropeSeptember 3rd 2009.

Please keep me out of this.

Colomendy KidSeptember 3rd 2009.

To avoid trouble don't go to north Wales - I hear that Scrittipolitti and Sir Howard Way are at Loggerheads...

Angry of AigburthSeptember 3rd 2009.

But shittipolitti, you DON’T like anyone! In the past you have ranted on LivConf about how you relish the mass closures of traditional and community pubs (something that that distresses everybody else) how you hate the people that drink in pubs and how all smokers should be put to death, particularly those that go to pubs and keep them financially viable. Now you want to refashion Sefton Park in your own neo-Fascist image, no doubt with a statue of you in Starbucks in place of the old café you want demolished!

'Boozed up' L18 revellerSeptember 3rd 2009.

As a boozed up Allerton Road reveller (I'm 56) I watched two policewoman on horseback mount the pavement to 'herd' about seven people back into the bar as they were outside on a warm evening. Not exactly Millwall and West Ham but hey what do I know I was boozed up !

scrittipolittiSeptember 3rd 2009.

Angry of Aigburth, you're getting me mixed up with Green Gartside with the whiny high voice... Unlike the shiny eighties pop icon, I like the idea of community pubs but most of us find the fascism of smokers quite offensive....Ok it does mean that a substantial minority have been marginalised from all forms of social pleasure but the ban has meant that the majority get the right to choose whether we get lung cancer. Are you seriously telling me that you want to preserve that brick sh-thouse in Sefton Park? Maybe turn it into an exclusive smokers pub? Ok you're right it's an entrepreneurial opportunity to exploit angry smokers like yourself... The Black Lung...nice local Cains pub.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2009.

I agree with scrit, raze it to the ground and dance on its ashes.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2009.

And scuff your poncey overpriced trainers?

Old Nick's CaveSeptember 3rd 2009.

Why don't you lot clear off back to Bracknell or whichever Home Counties bumhole it was that spawned you?

Ay!Carmela!September 3rd 2009.

I can clear off back to County Road, is that alright?

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