The Philharmonic Dining Rooms (1)
Corner of Hardman Street / Hope Street, Liverpool L1

Picture by Carly Neill
 
Designer: Walter Thomas
Gates: Henry Bloomfield Bare
Copperwork: Bloomfield Bare & Thomas Huson
Plaster work: C.J. Allen
 
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This remarkable public house (of national architectural significance) was designed by Walter Thomas who also built The Vines on Lime Street. According to Pevsner this was built for Robert Cain but according to Lewis it was built for Andrew Walker (who had funded the building of The Walker Art Gallery). Thomas engaged Paul Neil and Arthur Stratton of The University Art School to oversee decoration and employed ship's carpenters and designers to fit out the interior with rich sculptural carpentry, marble fixtures, a mosaic floor, decorated bar panels and both etched and stained glass. On the Hardman Street elevation there are two carved medallions above the former doorways beneath broken arches, each is surrounded by musical instruments, mandolin, organ pipes and a harp in one, violin, cornet and perhaps a lyre in the other. Under the schematic leadership of Neil & Stratton, Henry Bloomfield Bare designed the elaborate gates in wrought iron and gilded copper. A Phoenix rises from flames upon a shield supported by antelopes surrounded by tendril drapery encompassing many female heads. Bare also designed much of the repousse copper work (copper panels beaten from behind into the desired shape). In the main bar there are seven copper reliefs of various composition, all showing musicians in concert.

There is a large room to the right (between the smaller Brahms and Lizst rooms), it is variously described as The Grand Lounge, The Billiards Room or in the 1970s, The Cocktail Bar. In this larger room there is a series of twenty four copper reliefs. Sixteen, of animals and flowers are by Bare, the remaining eight are by Thomas Huson and show various maritime scenes, those to the immediate left of the door back into the main bar are said to be of New Brighton and Liverpool. Also in the Grand Lounge, above the doorway, is a plaster relief by C.J. Allen showing two attendants crowning Apollo. Facing this across the room above the original fireplace (later a bar) is The Murmur Of The Sea, by C.J. Allen, a plasterwork nude boy attended by two robed women and said by Allen to represent 'the songs of the deep'. The famous marble urinals have suffered grievous insult at some point in the past, a plumbing misrepair now camouflaged but not entirely hidden. One feels that only the frequent incursion of escorted females sees the facilities maintained to a minimum level.

Sources:
Pevsner Architectural Guides; Liverpool by Joseph Sharples
The Public Sculpture Of Liverpool by Terry Cavanagh
Walks Through History: Liverpool by David Lewis
The Little Book Of Liver Birds by David Cottrell
Seaport by Quentin Hughes

Alan Maycock 2008

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