Kirklands, Hardman Street – a lost Peter Ellis building, hiding in plain sight

Thought to date from 1888, our new research shows the building is actually from 1860. Assumed to be demolished, it’s actually another surviving building by the the acclaimed Liverpool architect Peter Ellis.

Image: Google Streetview

For the benefit of anyone not from Liverpool, or too young to remember, Kirklands was a famous cafe, bar and nightclub that ran from 1975 to 1999. It is now Fly in the loaf.

There was nowhere quite like it. The idea of a place to drink wine and eat exotic foods was so new to Liverpool it was a very big thing at the time – it really was a new one for Liverpool. It used to be a really fantastic bar.

Bernie Carroll, a doorman at Kirklands, Facebook page on Kirklands via Liverpool Echo

This treasured building features a beautifully ornate Victorian shopfront advertising Kirkland Brothers’ Vienna bakery and Scotch confectioners who opened the bakery in 1888. The frontage proclaims that the Kirkland brothers were bakers to the Queen no less, with a fancy royal warrant to prove it.

The surviving Victorian shopfront of Kirklands on Hardman Street.
Interior of the Fly in the Loaf. Image: Tonight in liverpool

Circa 1939, the Jennings family of bakers and confectioners took over the bakery and it became Kirkland Jennings and by the early 1960s it had become Scotts.

The last bakery on the site before becoming a nightclub in 1975. Image: LRO

The royal warrant is missing from the photograph above and has been replaced by a two dimensional sign. The photograph below shows the blank space left after the Scotts sign was removed.

1974 empty shop on Hardman Street, later to become Kirklands. Note that the Royal Warrant is missing. Pic: @angiesliverpool

Fortunately, the original crest was discovered by the owners of the wine bar who had it restored (or possibly remade) by Liverpool sculptor Jimmy McClaughlin in 1975.

A suitably 60s product from Scotts Bakery – the Ringo Roll.
Image: From the Connie and Dennis Dailey Monumental Beatles Collection. COA from Heritage.

Kirklands food and wine bar

The ‘wine and food bar’ was set up by Bernie Start, John Hewson and his wife Alexandra (Sandy) Hewson. Start and Hewson had began their business partnership with a fashion label called Looking Glass:-

With an indeterminate atmosphere somewhere between the heyday of Brighton Pier and the Paris of Toulouse- Lautrec, it is sober enough to entertain the more formal business customer and informal enough to encourage the student fraternity who can identify every one of the heavy rock rock drifting through the baskets of hanging ferns.

…the site’s potential was realised by two Liverpool fashion directors. Bernie Start and John Hewson were already trailblazing in the city with the “Looking Glass” label, their trademark at the city’s first boutique. With the designing talents of Johns wife, Sandy and a budget “in excess of £30.000” the old bakery took an a new lease of life, aiming to combine the atmosphere of the original with the taste of today. Virtually all the work was carried out over three months by the firm’s own shopfitting company.

Liverpool Echo – Friday 12 December 1975
20 baked potato specialities including prawns in curry sauce. Liverpool Echo – Tuesday 25 November 1975.
British Newspaper Archive
A choice of over 6o wines. Liverpool Echo – Friday 12 December 1975.
British Newspaper Archive

The logo featured on the advertisement above has been adapted from the mosaic-tiled entrance to the shop that dates from its time as a bakery.

Image credit
Clubbers at Kirklands feature on the cover of photographer Francesco Mellina’s book Revealed.

Film location
The Victorian shopfront was used as a filming location for the 1992-94 TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Nearby Falkner Street was used also.

The “Vienna Bakery” where Indy first spots Maggie (Susannah Doyle) and her friend was the Fly in the Loaf Pub at 13 Hardman Street in Liverpool. It was formerly the Kirkland Bros. Bakery, which the signage still reads.
Information and image from: Young Indy Film Locations

Bernie Start put the building up for sale in 1989 and it continued under new management until December 1999 and closed for good shortly afterwards.

Liverpool Echo – Monday 27 November 1989. British Newspaper Archive

Bernie Start then went on to open another legendary Liverpool clubbing venue on 26th October 1982 – the State in Dale Street.

Liverpool Echo – Wednesday 27 October 1982. British Newspaper Archive
Liverpool Echo 12 December 1996. British Newspaper Archive

Before the Kirkland bakery

Before the Kirkland brothers opening their bakery in 1888, the site was originally occupied by the Liverpool Homœopathic Dispensary. This had been designed by the visionary architect Peter Ellis in 1860.

Liverpool Daily Post 26 November 1860. British Newspaper Archive

Ellis’ Dispensary building is said to have been demolished in 1887 when the institution moved to new, larger premises on Hope Street, this survives and is a grade II listed building.

Peter Ellis, architect

Ellis (born at Shaw’s Brow, Liverpool in 1805) was an important architect, and not just locally, his innovative designs were decades ahead of his time and influential to the skyscrapers of America. Ellis’ masterpieces were Oriel Chambers (opened 1865) and 16 Cook Street (1866). Both featured designs that look more like 20th century buildings than mid 19th.

Oriel Chambers was widely condemned in its day as ugly and eccentric, and the experiment was not repeated, though Ellis did design the equally unconventional 16 Cook Street, with a five-storey façade like one giant window, and more curtain-glazing at the rear. Although he was unappreciated at home, there is an intriguing possibility that Ellis may have influenced the development of American high-rise offices: Oriel Chambers seems to anticipate the pioneering Chicago skyscrapers of John Wellborn Root, who was educated on Merseyside in the 1860s, where his uncle’s office was a stone’s throw from Ellis’s recently completed building.

Built on Commerce, Liverpool’s central business district, English Heritage, Joseph Sharples and John Stonard
Oriel Chambers, Water Street, 1864 (opened 1865) The Victorian Web
16 Cook Street, 1866. Photograph: Pat Neill, Liverpool Monuments
Looking more like something from the 1960s than the 1860s – Peter Ellis’ glass covered cast iron spiral staircase viewed from the courtyard, 16 Cook Street, Photograph: Dave Wood, Liverpool Monuments

Ellis’ Hardman Street building was much more traditional in appearance than Oriel Chambers or 16 Cook Street. Perhaps it was because it predated these two buildings? Another factor may have been the incredibly short time he completed it – less than a year.

As well as being an architect, in 1868 Ellis installed the world’s first working example of the Paternoster lift in Oriel Chambers (a chain of open compartments that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building without stopping).

Ellis’ office was at 9 Orange Court (from 1863), off Castle Street. It was from here that he oversaw the opening of Oriel Chambers (1864), the installation of the world’s first paternoser lift design (1868), and the construction of 16 Cook Street (1864-66).

Base map: Goad’s Fire Insurance Map of 1888

Another surviving Ellis building is this at 3 Upper Duke Street, currently the Yuet Ben restaurant, this was built circa 1873. This was discovered to have been designed by the architect in the publication Signatures of Peter Ellis, see below for more details.

3 Upper Duke Street is the white building on the right. Google Street view.
1873,22 . A view of ‘Berry Street, east side from Upper Duke Street looking northwards, 1897. Watercolour by J. Barter.’
LRO, ref. Barter Collection 33. Via: Signatures of Peter Ellis
A blue plaque marks Ellis’ home at 40 Falkner Square. Image: Liverpool Echo

For more information about the building above and others (some surviving) by Peter Ellis, we highly recommend In the Footsteps of Peter Ellis. Architect of Oriel Chambers and 16 Cook Street, Liverpool by Robert Ainsworth and Graham Jones, Liverpool History Society. Most libraries in Liverpool hold a copy. The supplement to the book, Signatures of Peter Ellis, is available as a free download and provides a wealth of information and fascinating discoveries.

Ellis’ original building demolished in 1887?

The aforementioned book In the Footsteps of Peter Ellis says of the demolition:-

With the tragic loss of the church, (St Phillip’s next door) the future of the dispensary was bound to be uncertain. Thankfully for Peter, the building outlived him for three years until it was demolished and replaced when the much larger Hahnemann Homoeopaphic Hospital was opened on Hope Street.

In the Footsteps of Peter Ellis, Graham Jones and Rob Ainsworth, Liverpool History Society, 2013

Our new research will demonstrate that this was not the case.
The building was not demolished, instead the Kirkland brothers adapted Ellis’ building to suit their requirements for a modern, hygienic bakery.

Why the building was thought to have been demolished

The reason the building was thought to have been demolished is completely understandable as a contemporary account appears to suggest that was the case. The newspaper clipping below is from 1888 and announces the opening of the Kirkland Brothers’ new bakery. No doubt the wording of this article was the cause of the confusion:

The new building, just erected for the firm on the site of the old Homœopathic Dispensary, has been specifically designed and constructed with the object of obtaining a perfectly sanitary bakehouse.

Image: British Newspaper Archive

The article states that the bakery was ‘just erected’, ‘on the site of the old Homœopathic Dispensary’ but it doesn’t actually say that the dispensary was demolished. The article also states that the building had solid concrete floors and exposed wrought iron beams.

Proof that Ellis’ building survived

Another article appeared in the same year that gave a completely different account. The Vienna Bakery was in fact in the same premises formerly used as the dispensary:

..the opening of the Vienna bakery, which has been established in the premises formerly used as the Hahnemann Hospital, in Hardmann Street

Liverpool Weekly Courier – Saturday 15 December 1888
Liverpool Weekly Courier – Saturday 15 December 1888

The pictorial evidence we show later further demonstrates that the shell of the building was retained but it was gutted internally and modified to take the weight of the ovens. The solid concrete floors had no cavities, so also prevented vermin.

The Liverpool Homœopathic Dispensary:-

The Liverpool Homœopathic Dispensary had been a Free Medical Charity from at least 1842 and consisted of the following dispensaries. The South End Homoeopathic Dispensary was established in 1841 at 41 Frederick Street by Dr Drysdale, later moving to a house in Benson Street, then to 2 Harford Street. Later, the Dispensary moved to a building in Hardman Street, erected by public subscription in 1860, and transferred to Hope Street when the Hahnemann Hospital was built in 1887.

Liverpool Hahnemann Hospital and Homœopathic Dispensaries. LRO via National Archives

Ellis took less than a year, from design to opening day
Peter Ellis completed the works at an impressive rate. From having the go-ahead in February 1860 the building was opened in November the same year.

Liverpool Mercury, 6 February 1860. British Newspaper Archives

The building featured a ‘heroic-sized’ statue of Samuel Hahnemann
This article below, printed when the dispensary was first opened, gives some fascinating details about the building. It says that inside the porch, via the Hardman Street entrance was:-

an heroic-sized statue of (Samuel) Hahnemann, the distinguished founder of the Homœopathic system, standing on a massive pedestal of polished Aberdeen granite.

The ground floor had a waiting room, a private room for a physician, the boardroom and three consulting rooms. Upstairs were beds for the patients. The doctors and subscribers used the Hardmann Street entrance while the patients used a side door in Baltimore Street. This still survives but has been blocked up (see further down in this post).

Liverpool Mercury, 26 November 1860. British Newspaper Archives

Pictorial evidence to prove that the original dispensary survives

Two watercolours from the 1860s depicting the adjacent St. Phillip’s church show glimpses of the Ellis’ original building. We are fortunate that these views of the hospital exist – from two decades before Kirklands opened their bakery. One shows it actually being erected and the other shows it completed. A comparison of this building with the Kirklands building shows that they are actually one and the same. The Kirkland brothers added the now iconic shop front but the building itself survived.

The principal subject of both paintings is the church of St. Phillip next door. This was one of the early 19th century cast iron churches made by foundry owner John Cragg. Ironically this was another building that was assumed to have been demolished long ago but was actually partially entombed within a later building, sadly now lost to make way for student accommodation.

St. Phillips church, Hardman Street in 1860. Between the wall and the church was the grave yard.
The dispensary is in the process of being built on the left.
Image: Herdman collection Liverpool Record Office. See also Liverpool 1207‘s fascinating blog post on the history of the church.
Now completed, the word ‘Dispensary’ can be seen above the window, ‘Liverpool Homœopathic’ would have preceded it.
Image: LRO via Liverpool 1207
Kirklands, Hardman Street, in 1979 (Image: handout via Liverpool Echo)

Luckily for us, the 1979 photograph was taken from the exact spot the artist stood in the 1860s. By overlaying these image we can see that there is no doubt they are the same building. The images are so closely matched even the stones on the corners of the building correspond with each other. Because of the transparency of the church image, these stones can be seen continuing through the Kirklands shop front. The ornate frieze is an exact match on both images.

This overlay of the Kirklands’ building with the 1860 watercolor matches perfectly and proves that the buildings are one and the same. ©Bygoneliverpool

This close up of a panoramic view of Liverpool from 1865 shows the dispensary – behind the steeple of St Luke’s church. Even though the artist took some artistic licence when depicting every single building in Liverpool, the side of the dispensary corresponds with the Baltimore Street side of the Kirklands building, although the roof was later modified (see below).

Image: Historic Liverpool coloured by Bygone Liverpool

Comparative notes on the architecture of the building

The two watercolours contradict each other slightly in regards to the stonework. The illustration showing the completed building depicts the stone as ashlar (smooth cut stone), yet the drawing showing the build in progress features he stone more like it is today, textured and rougher. This can be explained by artistic interpretation, and it must be remembered that the artists’ intended subject of both illustrations was the actually the church.

The article in the Liverpool Mercury on 26 November 1860 states ‘the walling being partially wrought’ – meaning shaped by hammering or beating to give a rusticated appearance. Exactly the same surface that survives today. Ellis used the same stone surface on 3 Upper Duke Street, combined with an Oriel Window that’s reminiscent of Oriel Chambers, but in this case the construction is more traditional.

Image: Credit

The two small attic windows on the frieze are a modern addition and do not feature on the 1979 photograph. The original building had two floors but another attic floor has been added and these small windows above the cornice light that space.

Image from 2020: Google Streetview
The modification to the roof can be seen on a 3d Google view. Compare this roof with that which can be seen on the 1865 panoramic view shown earlier.

What looks like a blocked-up window in the centre on the first floor was actually a granite tablet surround that held an inscription. Let’s return to the article that appeared in the Liverpool Mercury in 1860:

In the centre of the Hardman-street front is a granite tablet, on which is inscribed “Founded 1841. Supported by voluntary contributions. Erected on this site 1860”. This inscription is encircled by handsome mouldings.

Liverpool Mercury, on 26 November 1860

The frame appears on the watercolour showing the construction of the building and is unmistakable as the same that exists today. It’s quite possible that the inscribed tablet was of Aberdeen granite, the same as the statue of Hahnemann.


Shown below is how the tablet and the original lettering would have looked. The tablet would have been encircled top & bottom by two half-round mouldings which can be seen on the photo below. The tablet filled the whole space with the lettering positioned in the centre.


Perhaps this tablet was taken to the Hope Street hospital and still survives somewhere?

Also identical to the watercolours are the moulded frieze and the quoins – the masonry blocks on each corner of the walls.

From the Baltimore Street side of the building it can be seen that the quoins were cut into to accommodate the Kirkland bakery shop front. This strongly indicates that the building was not purposely designed for Kirkland and therefore predates the ornate front.

Image: Google Streetview

Another clue that the building was not made for the bakery is the misalignment of the entrance to the first floor tablet surround. This is because the original entrance was under the window on the right.

Image: Google Streetview

The patients’ entrance
The execution of the stonework of an old blocked-up entrance in Baltimore Street shows a very strong resemblance to the front entrance shown on the two watercolours. This side entrance was originally intended for the patients – the front door on Hardman Street was reserved for doctors and patrons of the dispensary.


No windows facing the church

A very interesting aspect of Ellis’ building was discovered when it’s neighbour was demolished. This side of the building had been hidden since next door was constructed for the Salvation Army in 1882/83. By using Google’s street view tool, and selecting 2018, we can go back in time and gain a clear view of this side. Note that the stone surface is continuous across the whole face of the building. Apart from slight damage cause by the demolition of next door, this side remains exactly as Ellis designed it.

Why have no windows on that side?
It would be assumed that a hospital would make use of as much light and fresh air as possible. But, the reason that side was enclosed may be found by looking at the site when the church was there. The south side of the dispensary not only overlooked the church, but also the graveyard.

1847 Ordnance Survey showing St. Philip’s church with its graveyard located in front and facing Hardman Street, The plot on the left is where the dispensary would be erected.

Although the artist has greatly exaggerated the extent, the panoramic view from 1865 shows the dispensary overlooking the grave yard. The majority of the burials took place before the dispensary was built, but two were laid to rest in the year it was constructed. Annie Burton of Sandon Terrace was buried as they were preparing the ground and Sarah Darlington of Falkner Street was buried a month after it was opened. A further seven would be buried there until 1876, including three more of Annie Burton’s family (probably related to Rev. C. H. Burton of the church).

Image: Historic Liverpool coloured by Bygone Liverpool

Watching people being buried is not the most comforting view from a sick bed, but the graveyard may have caused even further concern. It’s possible that harmful ‘Miasma’ or ‘bad air’ may have been thought to have been inhaled by the patients and staff. Before the germ theory was accepted in the late 1800s, it was believed that the foul smell emitted from causes such as corpses in shallow graves and sewers were the cause of ill health.

Dr William Duncan, the country’s first ever Medical Officer of Health, made huge steps in combating the cholera epidemic in Liverpool, by limiting the spread of infection. Even though Duncan believed it was a Miasma that caused the disease.

Samuel Hahnemann (1755 – 1843), the founder of Homeopathy and the inspiration for the dispensary, was the first person to use the term Miasma in medicine, although the concept and word itself was ancient:

If we clearly study the history, it is very clear that Hahnemann didn’t invent anything new, but he just follow the nature and made a shape to those proposed by ancestors and make them available in practice. Here also, Hahnemann didn’t invent the concept of miasma, but he is definitely the first one who to name them as miasma and changes its perception.

Miasm in The Light Of Modern Era

Hahnemann, during his lifetime, discovered that a “noxious agent” was responsible for the persistence of the disease condition. He named this a miasm. The chronic diseases originate on chronic parasite miasms or germs, now referred to as chronic parasitic microorganisms. (Tyler, 2007). In other words it is a contagion that can provide the foundation for chronic disease (Choudhury, 2007).

History and Development of Miasmatic Theory in Homeopathy, from Samuel Hahnemann to Nowadays

Ellis himself had a passion for Homeopathy:-

Peter Ellis worked with the Drysdales in the design of the Hardman Street Homeopathic Dispensary, opened in 1860. Peter Ellis was a keen supporter of homeopathic medicine and his death certificate was signed by John James Drysdale, the dispensary’s leading physician 

Sue Young histories, the Drysdale family and homeopathy

It’s therefore entirely plausible that part of Ellis’ brief was to have the church-side of the hospital protected from the assumed health hazard of the grave yard.

It also has to be said that Liverpool had a track record for unsanitary burials. Overcrowding in large towns and cities like Liverpool led to the dead having the shallowest of graves. Contemporary newspapers tell many stories of residents complaining of the foul smell. In the case of the suffering residents facing St James’ cemetery, this included the sight of partly decomposed bodies being clearly visible from their upper windows. The dead had been left for days while they were piled up in common graves – waiting until a sufficient number were crammed in before finally being covered up with earth. The complainants told of an eerie, foul-smelling mist that hovered over the open graves (probably more to do with pollution and it being sited on low ground – being an old quarry)

Kirkland brothers

Early life
The Hardman Street bakery was the fourth business venture by the Kirkland brothers of Airdrie, Scotland – Robert (1854 – 1924) and George (born 1857).

Baking, grocery and confectionery must have been a traditional occupation for the wider Kirkland family as many appear in the Scottish census records before George and Robert came to Liverpool. Another older George Kirkland (born 1816) is listed as a baker living at 96 Westbourne Street, Everton in 1871. It likely this family were related to the brothers and possibly encouraged them to settle here.

More baking-Kirklands are in Liverpool at the same time. There is Duncan, he was born in 1848 in Airdrie, the same town as Robert and George. Duncan was living in Camm Street, Toxteth Park in 1891 and 53 Hampden Street, Walton in 1911. Another Scottish manager of a bakery is James Kirkland who was born in 1857 and living at 36, Dumbarton Street in 1901.

A possible clue to their very early life may be the name of a cafe the brothers opened in Lord Street, Avondale circa 1920. In 1871 there is a Kirkland family living at Avondale, Lanarkshire and a George (born 1855) is a servant to a grocer named William Kirkland. The name must been of special relevance to the family.

Liverpool Echo, 21st March 1922. British Newspaper Archive

Robert Kirkland

John Kirkland’s 1907 publication The Modern Baker states that Robert Kirkland first entered business as a banker and gave this up to join his brother George. But, of Robert’s early banking career we could find no evidence. He would have been very young as he was already a confectioner in Liverpool aged just 24. His early career may have been an error as in later life he helped found the Lancashire Finance Association and was the chairman.

Robert was also Chairman of another baking firm named Fletcher’s Limited, Birmingham (started by Liverpool-born James Fletcher). In 1891 he was director of the Liverpool Caledonian football club:-

The wealthy Scotsman purchased a large house and grounds, called Woodcroft, on Smithdown Road and supervised the building of a football ground that was described as… all enclosed and a grandstand has been erected capable of seating 700 people. The pitch has been thoroughly drained, and everything is in “apple pie” order. (Liverpool Mercury.) The location, which was called Woodcroft Park, became the social centre for the Scottish community of Liverpool.

William Orr – The Boy from Gwladys Street, Tony Olslow, Toffee Web

The mystery of Woodcroft Park, Liverpool’s lost football ground

The location of Woodcroft Park, the ground of Liverpool Caledonian AFC, was unknown until October 2021. Local historians, led by Mike Chitty of the Wavertree Society, had been searching for it since 2014. We were able to finally locate it. You can read the story here.

By 1892 Kirkland was president of the Liverpool library Lyceum on Bold Street.

In 1895 Robert stood as the Liberal candidate for the Sefton Park ward but lost to the Conservative Francis Henderson. By 1911 he had moved to Blundellsands. He died in August 1924 and is buried in Allerton Cemetery.

Robert’s grave in Allerton Cemetery. Image: Steven Horton, Liverpool Hidden History

George Kirkland

On the 1881 census, the 24 year old George is living with his wife London-born Emily, their child William and a servant at their confectionery shop at 98 Bold Street. The 27 year old Robert is boarding at 2 Cressington Park, Garston. This may indicate that he had only recently moved to Liverpool and was yet to find permanent lodgings. Ten years later he is living in 12 East Albert Road with 4 children and two servants.

George is shot by accident
As well as having his own business, George Kirkland was a manager of Macalpine’s confectionery shop (see below). In 1879 George was in the news when he took his revolver into Thomas Ibbotson’s tool repair shop Whitechapel to get it exchanged – but he didn’t tell the shopkeeper it still had a bullet in one chamber. The gun went off and wounded George in the side. Luckily a doctor was nearby and George was treated at the scene and then taken to hospital by cab. He was able to make a quick recovery.

Liverpool businesses

By 1879 the brothers had Scotch bakeries at 11 Lord Street, 98 Bold Street and 1B Brunswick Road. This was a remarkable success for such young men.

Liverpool Echo, 6 December 1879. British Newspaper Archive.

The Lord Street shop had previously been Macalpine’s Scotch Bakery with George Kirkland as the manager. Macalpine & Co. was a Scotch confectionery shop with tea and dining rooms upstairs. The company had three branches and was started by Ronald McDougall, a Liberal MP and originator of London (Temperance) Tea Shops. McDougall’s Lord Street shop advertised that it sold ‘No intoxicants’.

In July 1879 Macalpine was bankrupt with debts of over £2000. The Kirkland brothers took over the Lord Street branch but Macalpine branches were still open in Renshaw Street and Aigburth Vale.

Macalpine’s shop can be seen on this photograph from the late 19th century. It is on the left side just before the building with the tall chimneys. It features a sign saying ‘Tea and Dining Rooms”
Liverpool Mercury – Thursday 16 September 1875. Image: BNA

The Kirklands open a new shop in Hardman Street

By 1882 the Kirkland brothers had expanded, opening a new Vienna bakery at 17 Hardman Street and moved to the surviving premises in December 1888.

The Kirklands meet Queen Victoria

In May 1886 the Kirkland’s had a working bakery at the Liverpool International Exhibition of Navigation, Commerce and Industry. This was held at the Edge Lane Hall Estate near Wavertree Park. The event was opened by Queen Victoria who stayed at Newsham House.

Liverpool Mercury, 18th May 1886. British Newspaper Archive.
Illustrated London News – Saturday 08 May 1886. British Newspaper Archive.
Illustrated London News – Saturday 22 May 1886. British Newspaper Archive.
The route taken by Queen Victoria, Newsham House can be seen on the right. The Graphic – Saturday 15 May 1886. British newspaper Archive.

The Kirklands also had their model bakery on show the following year at the ‘handsome and ornamental pavilion’ of the Jubilee exhibition. In 1888 the whole of the wood and glass pavilion was broken up and offered for sale.

Widnes Examiner – Saturday 21 July 1888. British Newspaper Archive

The steam powered oven the firm used was also up for sale. This was constructed by Renton Gibbs of Mill Street and measured 10′ x 8′ and was constructed of glazed bricks

Widnes Examiner – Saturday 10 March 1888. British Newspaper Archive

You can read about Renton Gibbs’ Mill Street works on The Victorian Engineers website, included are some amazing photographs of the site.

This building appears to have survived, here it is in November 2020:-

Google Streetview, November 2020

In the same year as the exhibition the Kirkland’s were awarded the Royal Warrant and added ‘Bakers to the Queen’ on their advertisements.

Liverpool Weekly Courier – Saturday 04 December 1886

The bakery would later have official approval from the King of Spain and the Emperor of Austria. Old photos of the Lord Street shop appear to show two royal warrants (See reconstruction further down this page).

Liverpool Evening Express – Monday 26 June 1911. British newspaper Archive.

In recent years a set of four medals presented to the company were up for sale on the Liverpool Medals website, and can be seen below.

Group of 4 Warrant Holders Medals to the Kirkland Brothers. Image: Liverpool Medals

The Lord Street shop

As we have seen, the Kirkland’s took over Macalpine’s business on Lord Street. This building was a 17th century town house that featured the coat-of-arms of Lord Molyneux. Originally called Lord Moyneux’s lane, Lord Street owes its origin to this family. The house had been updated in 1875 and Macalpine was one of the first tenants.

For another Bygone Liverpool post on Lord Molyneux’s house we recreated how this building would have looked. By studying images from the turn of the 19th century we were able to recreate how the Kirkland Brothers’ Lord Street shop looked when they took it over.

The Kirklands’ shop can be seen on the left side of the building coloured pink below. Kirklands’ shop can be seen on the left side of the building coloured pink below.

Image: Bygone Liverpool’s own collection.
Artists impression ©Bygone Liverpool

Another famous Liverpool company, Boodles, were in the same building on the opposite side of the entrance to Commerce Court. Boodles’ headquarters are still in Lord Street but a little further down the street.

How the original interiors may have looked

In 1907 John Kirkland (from the Irvine branch of Kirkland bakers, and head of the National Bakery school in London 1902-1927) produced several volumes of a publication entitled The modern baker, confectioner and caterer; a practical and scientific work for the baking and allied trades. Illustrations from the second volume gives us an idea of how the interior of the Hardman Street shop may have looked. The windows on the second illustration are similar to those on the Hardman Street shop, as is the counter location, being on the right hand side of the entrance.

A confectioner’s artistic tea room. The Modern Baker, John Kirkland
Interior of a high-class confectioner’s shop confectioner’s artistic tea room. The Modern Baker, John Kirkland

It appears that some of the original fittings from the bakery survive. The sumptuously decorated bar shares exactly the same design as the front windows.

Image of Fly in the loaf interior: Adam N
Image of Fly in the loaf interior: Mark Charrington

First World War

By 1915 the family business was in trouble, they had only made a profit of £1,000 but after outgoings they were in debt by £500. The reason was that over sixty of their staff had joined the army and the government had commandeered all their best horses to take to the front (Liverpool Daily Post, 28 July 1915). George stepped down as director due to ill health but stayed on as manager.

In the same year one of those members of staff was killed in action (it’s very likely there were others). Thomas Rehill was a confectioner with Kirkland Bros, he lived with his wife Jennie at 13 Burnard Street. Thomas had joined B Company, 8th (Irish) Battalion of the Kings Liverpool Regiment on March 1914 (Britain declared war on 4 August 1914). He was promoted to Corporal on the 22nd June 1915. On the 18th September 1915 Thomas was killed in the trenches leading a party of his men. He was buried at Aveluy Communal Cemetery.

Liverpool Echo – Monday 04 October 1915. British Newspaper Archive

In 1916 Liverpool Vienna Bakery Limited made a loss of of over £3,000. Not just that, a company they invested in named the Clerks’ Cafe company lost a further £13,258. The company’s losses in total was £18,339 (a value of approximately £1.6 million today).

The end of an era, the Vienna bakery is brown bread

The company survived the war but Liverpool Vienna Bakery Limited was finally wound up in December 1921 (London Gazette, 23 December 1921, page 0529). The Kirkland name continued through the 1920s under Kirklands Limited but by 1939 had become Kirkland, Jennings.

Liverpool Echo – Thursday 24 November 1921. British Newspaper Archive
Croissants for breakfast in 1922? Not for the vast majority of Liverpool people. Liverpool Echo – Thursday 01 June 1922. British Newspaper Archive

By the early 1960s the Hardman Street shop became Scotts Bakery and all traces of the Kirkland royal warrant was covered up with modern signs, only to be rediscovered in 1975 when it became the wine bar.

Samuel Hahnemann and Homeopathy

The ‘pseudoscientific, alternative medicine’ of homeopathy was conceived by a German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, and by the 19th century had gained popularity across the world.

Here comes the (non) science bit
A brief summary of the principles of Homeopathy:-

Hahnemann believed that if a patient had an illness, it could be cured by giving a medicine which, if given to a healthy person, would produce similar symptoms of that same illness but to a slighter degree. Thus, if a patient was suffering from severe nausea, he was given a medicine which in a healthy person would provoke mild nausea. By a process he called ‘proving’, Hahnemann claimed to be able to compile a selection of appropriate remedies. This led to his famous aphorism, ‘like cures like’, which is often called the ‘principle of similars’; and he cited Jenner’s use of cowpox vaccination to prevent smallpox as an example.

A brief history of homeopathy Irvine Loudon

Some of the chemicals Hahnemann used were poisonous so he greatly diluted his preparations to reduce their harm. Scientists argued that these dilutions were so great that often no molecule of the original chemical would have remained.

The Liverpool Hahnemann Hospital in Hope Street joined the National Health Service in 1969. The building closed in 1976. In 2017 the NHS stopped supporting the treatment when a report concluded that there was no evidence that the treatment worked, and had the same effect effect as placebos. In that year the NHS spent about £55,000 on just over 10,000 homeopathic prescriptions, in 1996 they had issued 170,000! Anyone wanting this apparent quackery now have to go private. Yet it still has the backing of Prince Charles who was crititised for becoming the patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy in 2019.

Not a listed building!

The Ellis/Kirkland building is part of a very exclusive club of surviving original Victorian or Edwardian shopfronts in the city centre (R. Jackson’s on Slater Street and Rennies on Bold Street are two others). Our research has now proven that it’s also one of the few surviving buildings by Peter Ellis. The Hardman Street building has huge cultural, historical and architectural significance to the city, and to the people of Liverpool, and must be protected for future generations.

It will therefore be a surprise to most people that it is not a listed building by Historic England. Bygone Liverpool contacted the organisation and no application has ever been made.

Listing marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system, so that it can be protected for future generations.

Historic England

The past owners of Kirklands, and now Fly in the loaf, should be highly commended for the work they have done for keeping this building alive and so faithful to the original structure. But with no listing, the building is not safeguarded for the future. Liverpool has lost far too many of its old buildings and this should be protected from developers – ever ready to demolish our heritage only to erect even more bland student accommodation.

We intend to make sure this building gets the protected status it deserves, we will keep you updated on our progress.

Further reading

Peter Ellis
Signatures of Peter Ellis, A supplement to the book, In the Footsteps of Peter Ellis. Architect of Oriel Chambers and 16 Cook Street, Liverpool, Robert Ainsworth and Graham Jones, Liverpool History Society, 2013.

Built on Commerce, Liverpool’s central business district, English Heritage, Joseph Sharples and John Stonard

Peter Ellis, Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History

Oriel Chambers, The Victorian Web

16 Cook Street, Engineering Timelines

A Liverpool Exemplar – Peter Ellis, Football Voice

The Rescue Man: a city built and destroyed,

Paternoster lift, Made up in Britain

The Kirkland Brothers
No flies in the loaf of Royal Bakers, Steven Houghton, Liverpool Hidden history. Also Robert Kirkland

St Philip’s Church, Hardman Street
An amazing piece of research into the church of Hardman Street which features a free downloadable pdf. Liverpool 1207

Lord Street from the 17th century
You can read more about the Kirkland brothers and the fascinating history of the 17th century Lord Street building on our post Lord Molyneux’s House and the early development of Lord Street, Liverpool

Robert Kirkland’s football team, Liverpool Caledonian and the mystery of Liverpool’s long-lost football ground

You are free to share the information but please credit the site and supply a link to the original post. The artists impression of the Lord Street building are ©Bygone Liverpool.

2 thoughts on “Kirklands, Hardman Street – a lost Peter Ellis building, hiding in plain sight

  1. Well done, fascinating research. Just a minor observation on ‘no windows facing St Philip’s church side’ – when city centre sites are/were developed and sub-divided it was common practice (and often legally prescribed/enforced ) to gave no windows along that common boundary. These days the ‘rights of light’ and fire resistance are enshrined in law, but in the past these were well-understood particularly reducing the value of sites.
    I went along when St Philip’s was uncovered when Atlantic House (think it wax called) was knocked down and viewed not only the remnants of Cragg’s ironwork (which was subject to a different article) and I noted that the side elevation of Kirklands was complete, apart from the (former) stone cornice that had been hacked off likely when in the late 1880’s the Salvation Army building was constructed.


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