View of the docks and church of St. Nicholas. Notice how close the water's edge is to the church.
A short history of Liverpool
And The Monro's place in it
WHAT IS THE "POOL" IN LIVERPOOL?
In old English, ‘Pool’ means an inlet of water. On both the painting and map, you can see the inlet that came in from the River Mersey.
This inlet would have been useful to pull into with a sailing barge to unload goods at the small dock.
The first part of the name is thought to be derived from the Welsh word ‘Llif’, meaning flood. The name Liverpool, therefore, literally means a flooding pool or inlet.
THE CASTLE OF LIVERPOOL
The castle, pictured clearly on the painting and map, was built in 1247 but was a ruin from the 1700s.
To the right of the pool were fields and Park Road, which would have taken you to the King’s deer hunting grounds of Toxteth Park. The road still exists today.
The area to the right of the pool is where The Monro now stands. But why was that side of the pool developed?
THE WORLD’S FIRST ENCLOSED DOCK BUILT IN 1715
In 1715 the pool was encased in stone around the edges while the upper reaches were filled in. Designed by Thomas Steers, it became the world’s first-ever enclosed dock.
Within 50 years, the increase in trade from the new dock led to the right-hand side of the new enclosed dock being developed.
The Monro appeared for the first time on a map in 1750 but as two merchants’ homes.
Next to The Monro were green fields owned by Mrs Colquitt (Colquitt Street is named after her.). There would have been fine views of the dock from The Monro, allowing the
merchants to see what was going on.
This is why in the very early days Duke Street became full of merchants homes like the ones in Williamson Square.
The castle can clearly be seen in the centre. Still open country on the right side of the map where The Monro now stands.
The castle as seen in this painting can also be seen on the map as a square. It was demolished in 1726.
View of the original old dock with the Customs House added in 1780. Sadly demolished in 1948.
The creation of the dock brought on a Georgian building boom across Liverpool.
Who lived at The Monro?
A famous former resident of The Monro was John Bolton (1756-1837)
The wealthiest merchant and shipowner of his generation, we would look out of his front door to the docks beyond and watch his ships sailing into the old Liverpool dock.
John was friends with George Canning (of Canning Street fame) and William Husskison (of Husskison Dock).
Both would have been visitors to The Monro when it was his home.
John Bolton’s other famous friends included the poet William Wordsworth and many other celebrities of the day.
His wealth grew so much that he bought a country mansion in Cumbria, Storrs Hall on the shores of Lake Windermere.
Now a hotel, you can go for a coffee and see his former luxury home. (www.storrshall.com)
John Bolton lived at The Monro when it was a merchants home. He fought the last dual with pistols - and won at Otterspool.
The Monro is born in 1817
By the turn of the century, Duke Street had been transformed into a bustling area which served the shipping industry.
The merchants later moved further out to the parklands of Toxteth and the fine views of Everton.
Duke Street had several public houses and beer houses. Beer houses sold, well, beer, and could be set up in your front room. Public houses sold spirits as well as beer, with or without overnight rooms.
The Monro started off as a beer, wine & spirit merchant.
You can see from the advert that we used to sell ales and deliver them to the fine houses in the local area.
Even at that time, there were mansions with gardens nearby.
HOW WE GOT OUR NAME
The Monro is named after the 3 masted sailing ship "The James Monro”.
Part of the famous Black Ball Line, formed in 1817, The Monro was in turn named after then-US President, James Monro(e).
The Monro packet ship was the first regular scheduled transatlantic ship service between Liverpool and New York. It carried various non-bulk cargoes like apples and hops.
She would also have carried passengers to the New World and stayed in service until 1850.
The M.V, Monro launched in 1817
Shipping advert from 1818
Original pub advert from the Liverpool Mercury 1868
The sad decline of our great city
Cargo ships continued to grow in size and, eventually, the old dock was filled in. New docks were built to the north and south of the city.
By the 1970s & 80s, many of the docks were derelict as the container ships docked at the new port in Seaforth.
For another 30 years, The Monro struggled on. Duke Street was largely abandoned, the pub itself filth and mostly derelict.
The whole area around The Monro was filled with tall, slim warehouses that were made redundant by containerisation.
Then and now
In 2003, current owner Will Lyons & Ops Manager Nikos had the idea of creating a ‘new-fangled’ gastropub at The Monro.
So they took a train to London to see what it was all about. What they found would shock
them, to say the least.
The London gastropubs served great food but the pubs were rundown. “You have one of those” quipped Nikos at the time.
Will was equally unimpressed, "Is this what all the fuss is about? Great food while sitting on a slashed bench
seat? There’s no way that would work in Liverpool.”
They knew at the time any future customers would want to eat in a spotless, cosy environment.
So they restored and refurbished, blending the classic with the contemporary. They also went about recreating the architectural detail that had been lost through the years.
The next mission was to make, bake and create genuinely fresh food.
London had its fresh food markets but Liverpool didn’t.
Another plan was needed, then, to bring fresh ingredients to The Monro, as this was long before farmers markets became
So using copies of the Yellow Pages (remember them?) Will and Nikos arranged long drives to visit farms and unique suppliers.
This commitment to freshness became part of The Monro’s DNA.
Our commitment still exists today.
Check out our Liverpool gallery
Taking you from 1600's to the present day.
Painting circa 1868 not the newly built M&S, left side of painting at the back, which was originally a hotel.