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A look back at Ma Boyle’s as it celebrates 50 years at Tower Gardens

1 month ago

By Chris Grundy

A look back at Ma Boyle’s as it celebrates 50 years at Tower Gardens
Ma Boyle's is celebrating 50 years at Tower Gardens

Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery holds a storied history dating back to 1860 when it was originally opened by the original landlady, Kay Boyle.

Beginning as a humble coffee shop, it later transformed into an oyster bar before evolving into the beloved institution it is today—Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery.

Located in the iconic Tower Building since 1974, Ma Boyle’s has been a cornerstone of Liverpool’s social scene for over five decades. Situated just a stone’s throw away from the Albert Dock, Pier Head, and Liverpool’s Cruise Liner Terminal, Ma Boyle’s is perfectly positioned to cater to both visitors to the city and local professionals alike.

Kay Boyle
Kay Boyle

Throughout its history, the alehouse has played host to a diverse array of patrons, initially serving professional traders dealing in fine goods before establishing itself as a favourite haunt for legal and professional services due to its proximity to the business district.

As the waterfront location gears up to celebrate its 50 years at Tower Gardens this month, it’s worth reflecting on the fascinating journey that has shaped this iconic establishment.

Ma Boyle's - back in time
Ma Boyle’s – back in time

From its origins on Old Hall Street to serving oysters by the bucket load, Ma Boyle’s has remained at the forefront of innovation, being one of the first-ever ‘no smoking bars’ in the city.

Its entrance, much like its Tower Building counterpart, was unassuming and discreetly tucked away down a side street. Inside was again a basement bar but with triple height ceilings with its trademark beautiful marble-topped bar and world famous for its seafood and oysters.

For over a century, Old Hall Street was the cherished home of Ma Boyle’s until its closure on New Year’s Eve in 1973. The closure came as the building was slated for demolition to make room for the construction of the new underground Merseyrail Moorfields station.

Liverpool Daily Post - 5th January 1974
Liverpool Daily Post – 5th January 1974

While the physical structure of the original location is no more, a precious relic remains—a magnificent Royal Imperial mirror that once adorned the bar at Old Hall Street. Now proudly displayed in the main bar area of Ma Boyle’s current Tower Gardens location, this mirror serves as a poignant reminder of the establishment’s rich history and enduring legacy.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Ma Boyle’s history lies beneath its surface. The basement lounge of Ma Boyle’s now sits upon the catacombs of the original Liverpool gaol, adding an extra layer of intrigue to this historic venue.

Ma Boyle's - Old Hall Street mural
Ma Boyle’s – Old Hall Street mural

A testament to its enduring legacy, a stunning mosaic tribute was commissioned by renowned ceramics artist Jean Powell for the opening of the Tower Gardens Ma Boyle’s in 1974.

This mosaic, featuring Old Hall Street, Liverpool docks, and the business district, still stands as the centerpiece in the entrance area of the bar today, serving as a reminder of Ma Boyle’s rich heritage and timeless charm.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary Ma Boyle’s on Wednesday (31 January, 2024), they’ve got a 2-4-1 Scouse offer on all through the day! So get yourselves booked in to celebrate with them.

Ma Boyle's 50th anniversary
Ma Boyle’s 50th anniversary

Current owner Iain Hoskins, who rescued Ma Boyle’s from permanent closure in 2015, said:

“We all love how Ma’s is richly steeped in history, and when we found out that January 2024 was 50 years of being in Tower Gardens we wanted to share this wonderful story. It’s fascinating to see how the heart and soul of Ma’s has remained essentially the same – a much loved place to socialise, celebrate and party, and it’s this DNA we still have in the present day.

“We’re tucked away off Water Street and nestled by the beautiful St Nick’s church gardens and as Ma’s has seen the city change it’s always stayed true to its maritime roots. Since I took over Ma’s we’ve sought to enhance and refine the splendid space as a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city and a place to escape in. It’s been a wonderful 9 years for me and the team and a lot has happened during this time as we have developed and honoured the legend of Ma’s.

“Every time I walk in the walls resonate with its storied past and how it came to be here. The pandemic was tough and we questioned whether Ma Boyle’s would have a future in the new realities of people working from home. I’m happy to say that she’s bounced back stronger and her future is assured.” 

Iain added:

“I knew Ma Boyle’s was special when I first saw the site and understood its history and heritage. As a port city and famous trading centre, just imagine all the conversations, stories and energy which unfolded here. It really has a special place in the city’s lore. You can’t buy history like that, which makes Ma’s truly one of Liverpool’s longest running names in hospitality.

“And I feel the story is set to continue. We’re offering our famous Scouse on Wednesday 31st January to honour the fabulous history of Ma Boyle’s.”

The award-winning Ma Boyle’s serves breakfast brunches, liquid lunches and its brilliant bistro food, a place where groups of friends meet, couples catch up and meetings are made. Sumptuous food is complimented by a wonderful range of drinks and irresistible cocktails.

Incredibly it reached its 150th anniversary in 2020, which it celebrated properly in 2021 – a year late, due to the pandemic.

Across a century and half Ma Boyle’s has witnessed Liverpool evolve into a magnificent modern city.

A city known for its vibrant culture and rich history, Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery stands as an institution, welcoming visitors and locals alike to experience its unique blend of tradition, innovation, and warm hospitality.

For more info on Ma Boyle’s click here. For the latest news in Liverpool click here.

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