Liverpool pub ‘The Phil’ toasts new Grade I listed status

A magnificent Liverpool drinking institution has become the first Victorian purpose-built English pub to be given Grade I listed status.

The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, known locally as “The Phil”, is considered a “cathedral among pubs” because of its spectacular architecture and highly ornate “gin palace” interior.

A favourite haunt of The Beatles, John Lennon once said the biggest drag about being in the Fab Four was “not being able to have a pint in the Phil”.

Philharmonic Dining Rooms
Philharmonic Dining Rooms

Built in 1898 for local brewer Richard Cain by architect Walter W Thomas, the pub aimed to reflect the wealth and ambition of the Age of Empire.

Millions of pints later, it has now been upgraded from Grade II* to Grade I on the advice of Historic England, joining the likes of Buckingham Palace, Chatsworth House and Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral in the top 2.5% of England’s protected historic buildings.

Though other inns and taverns have Grade I status, it becomes the first purpose-built ale house erected during the “golden age” of Victorian pub-building to achieve the highest status.

The Phil was in the spotlight in 2018 when Sir Paul McCartney performed a surprise show there for James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.

Philharmonic Dining Rooms
Philharmonic Dining Rooms

Built in an exuberant free style, the Phil boasts stepped and shaped gables with obelisk finials, tall chimneystacks, turrets with copper ogee domes, and a corbelled balustraded balcony that wraps around the second floor.

The decorative entrance gates are widely considered to be among the finest Art Nouveau metalwork in England.

Inside, the horseshoe public bar and snugs feature eclectic decoration by Charles John Allen and Henry Bloomfield Bare, with elaborate plasterwork and ceramics, repousse copper work, finely detailed stained glass, mahogany fireplaces and intricately carved woodwork.

Even the gentleman’s toilets are a sight to behold, with decorative mosaic floor and patterned glazed-tiled walls incorporating Art Nouveau mosaic panels and frieze, and original sanitary ware of pink-marble basins and pink imitation-marble urinal surrounds.

Philharmonic Dining Rooms listed status
Philharmonic Dining Rooms listed status

The Phil was one of 11 historic pubs to have their heritage status reassessed, including two Grade II* and eight Grade II listed pubs from across the country having their listings updated following recent inspections to include further information about their important historic interiors.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “We are proud that the Liverpool Philharmonic pub, a remarkable survival from the Victorian era, has been given a Grade I listing, which will help maintain and preserve its outstanding interior fittings and exterior fabric for the future.”

Heritage Minister Helen Whately said: “For centuries, the local pub has been a place for people to come together.

“The 11 protected today are each original and important in their own way, and their updated listings will help to protect their cultural and historical heritage for years to come.”