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The Vines public house

A Grade II* Listed Building in Central, Liverpool

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Latitude: 53.4057 / 53°24'20"N

Longitude: -2.9782 / 2°58'41"W

OS Eastings: 335067

OS Northings: 390324

OS Grid: SJ350903

Mapcode National: GBR 75P.R4

Mapcode Global: WH877.7N2G

Plus Code: 9C5VC24C+7P

Entry Name: The Vines public house

Listing Date: 14 March 1975

Last Amended: 30 January 2020

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1084210

English Heritage Legacy ID: 359023

Location: Central, Liverpool, L1

County: Liverpool

Electoral Ward/Division: Central

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Liverpool

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: St Luke in the City Team

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

Tagged with: Pub

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Public house, 1907, by Walter Thomas for Robert Cain & Sons. Neo-Baroque style.


Public house, 1907, by Walter W Thomas for Robert Cain & Sons. Neo-Baroque style.

MATERIALS: sandstone ashlar with a pink-granite ground floor, slate roof coverings.

PLAN: The Vines has a V-shaped plan with a north corner in-filled at ground-floor level by a former billiards room. It occupies a corner plot at the junction of Copperas Hill and Lime Street with principal elevations onto both streets. It is bounded by Copperas Hill to the south-east, Lime Street to the south-west, and adjoining buildings to the north-east and north-west.

EXTERIOR: The Vines is of three-storeys plus attic and basement with a nine-bay elevation onto Lime Street, a canted south corner bay, and a six-bay return on Copperas Hill, and entrances on each elevation. The pub has a steep slate roof set behind ornate Dutch gables and a balustraded parapet, and the ground floor has banded rustication to the pink-granite facings. The ground floor is lit by large bow windows containing original patterned brilliant-cut glass and replaced etched glass, whilst the upper-floors have casement windows set within carved surrounds. A cornice projects out from the main face of the building above the ground floor and stood atop it to both the Lime Street and Copperas Hill elevations are later gold letters that read 'WALKERS WARRINGTON ALES', with additional letters to Lime Street that read 'THE VINES'. Above the first floor is a stringcourse interrupted by segmental floating cornices over some of the windows, and in between the windows are floriated drops attached to corbelled pedestals that support Ionic engaged columns between the second-floor windows. The Lime Street elevation has two large Dutch gables with scroll detailing, elaborate finials, paired casement windows with elaborate surrounds, and oculi to the gable apexes, whilst the Copperas Hill elevation has a single gable in the same style. Projecting out from the right gable on Lime Street is a large bracketed clock.

The south corner has a tall doorway to the ground floor accessing the public bar with a decorative wrought-iron and gilded-copper gate with a vestibule behind containing a patterned mosaic floor incorporating the lettering 'RCS' (Robert Cain & Sons) and two partly-glazed and panelled doors; that to the right is no longer in use. The entrance doorway itself is flanked by engaged Ionic columns with copper capitals and drops, and above are large triple keystones and a segmental open pediment, all exaggerated in size. Inscribed to the central keystone is 'The Vines' in gilded lettering. To the south corner's first floor is a glazed oculi with a festoon above incorporating a figurative head keystone, whilst the second-floor window mirrors that of the other elevations. Rising from the top of the corner bay behind the parapet and sandwiched by the Dutch gables on Lime Street and Copperas Hill is a tall round tower topped by a dome with a squat obelisk finial.

The Lime Street elevation incorporates a further entrance to the centre of the ground floor, which is identically styled to that to the south corner, but the lower section of the original gate has been removed and replaced by late-C20 concertina gates. The vestibule behind is lined with pink granite and has a decorative plasterwork ceiling and a small bow-shaped window (possibly an off-sales opening originally and in 2019 now covered with an advertising sign) directly opposite the doorway with a multipaned segmental overlight above. Partly-glazed panelled doors to each side lead into the lounge and public bar to the left and right respectively; both doors are multipaned to their upper halves with panes of brilliant-cut glass. To the left of the main building on Lime Street is an additional lower, rendered single-bay that comprises 79 Lime Street; part of an earlier (now demolished) building that was partly raised, altered and re-used in the early C20 to house The Vines' main accommodation stair. It has a tall doorway to the ground floor flanked by Corinthian columns with two panelled doors with overlights; that to the left previously served a now-demolished part of the building to the left whilst that to the right accesses the stair for The Vines. Single plate-glass sash windows exist to the right on two floors above; that to the second floor has been altered and made smaller, presumably when the stair was inserted internally. Corresponding windows to the left have been blocked up, but are partly visible internally.

The ground floor of the pub's Copperas Hill elevation also has a number of entrances, including one with a doorway incorporating a scrolled floating cornice and prominent keystone that leads into the public bar and originally also a former snug (now altered into a kitchenette). A plainer doorway to the right leads to a stair accessing the upper floors at this end of the building. A single-storey flat-roofed section to the far right of the elevation with a plain recessed doorway is a later addition and provides external access to the former billiards room.

The rear (north-east and north-west) elevations are plainer and of brick with large casement windows, some of which incorporate Art Nouveau stained glass. The entire rear yard area is occupied by a flat-roofed billiards room with a large lantern roof over a stained-glass dome visible internally. A cast-iron fire escape provides access down onto the roof of the billiards room.

INTERIOR: internally the pub has a linear sequence of rooms from south-east to north-west formed by a public bar, lounge and smoke room, with a large former billiards room at the rear. There are high ceilings and carved mahogany woodwork throughout the ground floor, and plasterwork by the Bromsgrove Guild and H Gustave Hiller.

The south corner entrance leads into a large public bar with a richly moulded plasterwork ceiling and a panelled mahogany bar counter to the north corner that originally ran down the north-east side of the room, but was shortened in 1989. Rising from the bar counter are short mirror-panelled piers supporting a pot shelf surmounted by three twin-armed brass lamps, and in front of the counter is a brass foot rail. The bar-back behind forms part of a carved, arcaded and panelled screen that runs down the north-east side of the public bar and incorporates stained, leaded, and cut glass, and two openings; the opening to the right has lost its original panelled infill, which would have been in similar style to the bar-back, whilst that to the left is an original open doorway with a broken segmental pediment above containing a clock face that gives the appearance of an outsized grandfather clock with the doorway through the pendulum case. The screen separates the public bar from a rear corridor cum drinking lobby that accesses toilets and leads through to the lounge and smoke room at the opposite end of the pub. Bench seating and a mahogany and tiled fireplace with a carved overmantel exist to the public bar's south-west wall, and a small late-C20 stage has been inserted at the south-east end of the room. At the north-west end of the room adjacent to the Lime Street entrance is a panelled and stained-glass arcaded screen with an integral drinking shelf that conceals the bar service area, possible off-sales and basement access from view. In the eastern corner of the bar adjacent to a lobby off the Copperas Hill entrance is an altered glazed screen covered with modern signage chalkboards that probably originally led through to another small room/snug, which is now a kitchenette.

Behind the public bar the corridor/drinking lobby's north-east wall is panelled and incorporates a wide arched opening to the centre with early-C20 signage plaques with incised and gilded lettering and arrows pointing towards the ladies and gents lavatories, which are accessed through an inner screen with Art Nouveau stained glass and a vestibule with panelled doors. Off to the right is a doorway through to the altered snug and access to a stair leading up to the first floor.

The lounge is accessed from the Lime Street entrance and shares a bar servery with the public bar, although the bar counter in the lounge is set within a wide arched opening and is more elaborate and wave-shaped with a decorative beaten-copper front. Above the counter are brass lighting rails with paired globe lights. Ornate carved and fluted Corinthian columns stood atop panelled pedestals support the room's ceiling, which continues the same richly decorated plasterwork as the public bar. Similarly detailed pilasters also exist to the walls, which are panelled. To the room's north-west wall is a tall mahogany and marble fireplace with a decorative beaten-copper panel depicting torches and swags, and a beaten-copper Art Nouveau fire hood, and large caryatids to each side supporting an entablature and segmental pediment above. Two doorways either side of the fireplace with their doors removed (one of the doors with an etched-glass upper panel that reads 'SMOKE ROOM' survives on the second floor in the Lime Street range) lead through into the smoke room, which has a back-to-back fireplace with the lounge.

The smoke room has booth seating set around three walls separated by baffles with Art Nouveau stained-glass panels and fluted octagonal uprights surmounted by paired lamps. The walls above the seating have highly decorative mahogany panelling with fluted pilasters, carved mouldings, marquetry detailing and built-in bell pushes set within decorative plates. To the top of the walls, and set below a coffered ceiling that incorporates a large plasterwork oval to the centre depicting the signs of the zodiac, is a deep plasterwork frieze depicting putti in various Arcadian scenes. The room's elaborate fireplace is also of mahogany, marble and beaten copper, with a semi-circular panel depicting Viking ships in relief and flanking fluted octagonal columns with Art Nouveau floriate capitals supporting an entablature.

At the rear (north-east side) of the ground floor, and accessed from the lounge and rear corridor, is a vast room (probably a billiards room originally and now known as the Heritage Suite) with an exposed floorboard floor, wall panelling incorporating doorcases with shaped heads, giant Corinthian pilasters, carved festoons and cartouches, and a coffered ceiling with a massive, oval, stained-glass domed skylight to the centre with a plasterwork frieze at its base depicting apples, foliage and lion's heads. To the south-west wall is an elaborate carved mahogany and marble fireplace with a large mirror built into the panelling above and surviving to the south-east wall is original built-in bench seating. At the north-west end of the room is a later panelled bar counter with a substantial bar-back behind incorporating Roman Doric columns supporting a deep entablature and flanked by later shelving. A doorway in the east corner leads through to an altered entrance foyer off Copperas Hill.

A steep, narrow stair off Copperas Hill leads up to the first floor and rooms in the south corner and south-east end of the building. The stair has modern tread coverings and has lost its balusters, but an original newel post and handrail survive. The main accommodation stair serving the upper floors in the Lime Street range is contained within the neighbouring single-bay property of 79 Lime Street and rises from a ground-floor foyer with later inserted partitioning. The stair is a wide dog-leg stair with substantial carved newel posts and balusters, pendant drops, a closed string, and a glazed-tiled dado.

The upper floor rooms at the south-east end of the building have been modernised to accommodate en-suite bathrooms and toilets, but the floor plan largely survives with only minor alteration, including boxing-in on the second-floor landing. The rooms and landings retain plain moulded cornicing and door architraves, and a mixture of original four-panel and modern doors. Chimneybreasts also survive, and most rooms retain Art Nouveau cast-iron and tiled fireplaces. A stair flight up to the second floor survives with closed strings and turned balusters and newel posts. On each of the first and second floor landings is a doorway through to the upper-floor rooms facing onto Lime Street, which are no longer in use. These spaces, except for the main stair at the north-west end, have been altered and modernised, along with the attic rooms.

The attic at the south-east end of the building and the basement were not inspected.


The Vines was constructed in 1907 to the designs of Walter W Thomas for the Liverpool brewery Robert Cain & Sons and replaced an early-C19 pub operated by Albert B Vines from 1867; hence the current pub's name. The interior decoration includes works by the Bromsgrove Guild and H Gustave Hiller.

Walter W Thomas (1849-1912) was a Liverpool architect who is best known for his public house designs, but who also produced designs for Owen Owen's department store known as Audley House, and houses around Sefton Park. As well as The Vines, Thomas also designed The Philharmonic Dining Rooms (1898-1900, Grade I) on Hope Street for Robert Cain & Sons, and rebuilt The Crown (1905, Grade II) for Walkers Brewery of Warrington, which is also on Lime Street.

Robert Cain (1826-1907) was born in Ireland but grew up in Liverpool. As a teenager he became an apprentice to a cooper on board a ship carrying palm oil from West Africa and after returning to Liverpool in 1844 he established himself first as a cooper, and then subsequently as a brewer in 1848. Cain began brewing at a pub on Limekiln Lane, but soon moved to larger premises on Wilton Street, and finally to the Mersey Brewery on Stanhope Street in 1858, which Cain extended in the late C19 and early C20. As well as brewing Cain also invested in property, built pubs, and ran a hotel adjacent to the Mersey Brewery. As his brewery business grew (known as Robert Cain & Sons from 1896) it bought out smaller brewers and took control of their pubs, evolving into a company that owned over 200 pubs in Liverpool by the late 1880s. In 1921 Robert Cain & Sons merged with Walkers Brewery to become Walker Cains and the Liverpool brewery at Stanhope Street was sold to Higsons in 1923. After a succession of owners from the 1980s onwards the brewery is being converted for mixed use.

The Bromsgrove Guild of Fine Arts was established in 1898 by Walter Gilbert as a means of promoting high-qualify craftsmanship in metal casting, woodcarving and embroidery in the style of a medieval guild, and included the creation of apprenticeships. The Guild subsequently expanded into other areas of art and design, including jewellery, enamelling, and decorative plasterwork, and recruited the best craftsmen. In 1900 the Guild was showcased at the British Pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in Paris and in 1908 it received a royal warrant. Famous works included the gates at Buckingham Palace, interior decoration on RMS Lusitania and RMS Queen Mary, and the Liver bird statues on the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool. Although the Guild survived the loss of key craftsmen and the Great Depression of the late 1920s it was finally wound up in the 1960s.

Henry Gustave Hiller (1864-1946) was a Liverpool-based designer and manufacturer of stained glass who trained at the Manchester School of Art under Walter Crane. He established a studio in Liverpool in around 1904 and retired in 1940. Although primarily known for his stained glass he worked in a wide variety of mediums, including plasterwork.

Reasons for Listing

The Vines, constructed in 1907 to the designs of Walter W Thomas for Robert Cain & Sons, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it has an impressive neo-Baroque design with flamboyant principal elevations that maximise its prominent corner location;

* its imposing composition and highly ornate interior reflect the status, wealth and ambition of Robert Cain who sought to create public houses of great beauty;

* the interior decoration is of a superior quality and includes plasterwork by the Bromsgrove Guild and H Gustave Hiller, carved mahogany woodwork throughout, repousse copper panels, and a stained-glass dome in the former billiards room;

* the interior retains high-quality original fixtures and fittings, including elaborate fireplaces, carved baffles with Art Nouveau stained glass, ornate wall panelling, arcaded screens, a striking wave-shaped beaten-copper bar counter in the lounge, and Art Nouveau fireplaces in the upper-floor accommodation.

Group value:

* it has strong group value with its sister building, the nearby Grade I-listed Philharmonic Dining Rooms, which was also designed by Walter W Thomas for Robert Cain & Sons, as well as other listed buildings on Lime Street and Ranelagh Place, including the Grade II-listed Crown Hotel, Adelphi Hotel and former Lewis's department store.

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