Today, I headed to Toxteth, having noted a small number of targets overdue for a visit. Once again I was a little worried that on a Thursday afternoon I would find some or all of them shut.
My first objective was the Herculaneum Bridge:
Drat! The door was locked. It's also known as Peglegs, which is written on the outside as well as the formal name.
Just round the corner was the Beresford Arms, now long gone and replaced by housing. Here it is on the occasion of my last visit, in 2003, and today:
On to the Bleak House:
Like Peglegs, it looks operational, but not open at the moment.
Next, possibly the least likely target, as I've got Wilson's Tavern recorded as closed in my database:
As I approached it looked closed although the lights were on. I took a photo and then walked onwards, but wait! The side door is open. I entered the porch but the inside door was locked. So near and yet so far. Disappointed, I walked on, but then an angel of mercy emerged from the paper shop across the road and hurried towards me. "Are you waiting to go in? Sorry, I had to nip out"
She soon unlocked the door and let me in. Yippee!
Inside is a rather good two sided boozer, with walls and woodwork painted in the now popular shades of grey scheme. One side has a rather unusual performance area with a stage and dance floor, under a low arched roof. I can't remember much from my 2003 visit, but judging by the notes in my database it hasn't changed much.
Needless to say, I was the only customer, and I drank my Carling in splendid solitude, listening to Smooth Radio while the landlady read her newspaper.
Now, what's the name of this place? The faded paintwork outside still says Wilson's Tavern, but Google has it as the Phoenix, which is the original name I think. The NHS track and trace sign says Phoenix as well.
Next, a pub much more likely to be open, I think, the Britannia:
Last visited back in the last millennium (1999), when I described it as recently built, this comfortable food-oriented place in the Stonehouse chain hasn't changed much. It offers great views across the river from a slightly higgledy-piggeldy open interior, or from the tables outside. I stared longingly at the roasts available at the carvery, with help yourself vegetables.
Ticking over at three on a Thursday afternoon, I could see occasional meals emerging from the kitchen, I guess the sunny weather has brought out a number of people for a riverside walk.
Three handpumps but they didn't look like they had been used recently, so I chose Guinness.
The menu looks good value, fish and chips £8.29.
I wondered what to do next. If all the pubs had been open I would have finished here, and then looked for a bus or taken the short route back to the train. Perhaps I should take the longer way back to the station, retracing my steps to check if the Bleak House or the Herculaneum have opened. There's not much chance, but I don't want to make a special evening trip later in the year just for those two. It'll be four by the time I get back there, so maybe, just maybe...
Bleak House was still shut, although the lights and even the telly in the bar are on, so I'm fairly sure it's still operational. On to Peglegs, and YES, it's now open. Wonderfully, all the fantastic woodwork and tilework is just the same as last time I was here, back in 2012. I'm not sure what the listing status of this place is, but it certainly ought to be protected. Sadly, later researches show it's unlisted, but at least it's on CAMRA's list. They report it as having been built in 1901-2 by Cains Brewery.
Two other customers were chatting with the barman, until they went out for a smoke, allowing me the opportunity for an interior photo:
The two handpumps are obviously just for show, so it was back to Carling for me.
I walked past the former Wellington Vaults where I last had a drink in 2012. Here it is, then and now:
It achieved a brief period in the spotlight in May 2013 after Prince Charles, in the area to re-open the Florence Institute across the road, was invited in for an unscheduled drink. It closed a year later and has now been converted into flats.
Now I've ticked three, why don't I re-visit the only other pub that might be available in this end of Toxteth. Last visited in 2018, what's the chance that the Anglesey will be open?
It is. No good for anyone looking for an historic interior, because this place has been beautifully modernised, just about retaining its two sided heritage. Pretty much the same as when I was last here in 2018 but looking round it doesn't look four years old so I think good maintenance has occurred in the mean time.
Quite a few customers in at five, they all seemed to know each other and the staff, so presumably regulars. The sound of the telly - snooker - was pretty much drowned out by chatter. This is a great locals' boozer and I was glad to see it doing well.
I caught myself nodding off in my comfortable seat so definitely time to go home; only a short walk to Park Road and a suitable bus. Quite a successful day after a shaky start, I think, but I'll have to go back for the Bleak House.
Miles walked: 3
Maybe coming soon: Garswood