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The Adelphi Hotel

The Adelphi Hotel is a landmark building for everyone born in the city, we have all walked past and gazed at the magnificent building, some have attended function there over the years from Weddings to Christmas parties, but what of the history of this iconic building.

The Original Adelphi Hotel - 1860s

The first Adelphi Hotel on the present site was opened in 1826 by owner James Radley. It soon became the most popular hotel in the city, and gained a reputation throughout Britain and Europe.

This hotel was replaced by another hotel in 1876, which was bought in 1892 by the Midland Railway. The railway company replaced it between 1911 and 1914 with the present building.  Today’s building still reflects his care and ambition to make it one of the most luxurious in Europe, with solid marble walls in many of the bedrooms, a fine indoor heated swimming pool, sauna and full central heating. Luxury indeed!

The Adelphi under construction

The Adelphi in 1876
The Adelphi has for years done a flourishing trade as Liverpool’s arrival and departure point for passengers on the great liners to American and beyond. The bedroom doors were all unusually wide, in order to accommodate steamer trunks, for those guests stopping over before travelling on the liners.

Many famous people have stayed in the Adelphi, including Roy Rogers and his horse "Trigger", who were supposed to have made a grand entrance from the mezzanine floor to the main lounge. And of course, the hotel is closely associated with another internationally known event, the Grand National.

The hotel also survived the blitz which wreaked havoc in the area around it, enemy action. On Saturday May 3, 1941, more than 300 tons of high explosives were dropped on the city and surrounding areas, as Merseyside, most notably Liverpool and Bootle, became the most bombed area outside London. Lewis’s, Liverpool’s landmark department store with its roof menagerie was gutted after taking a direct hit but the Adelphi Hotel, just across the road survived with little damage.

The current Adelphi Hotel

The current hotel is constructed in Portland stone. It has seven stories, and its entrance front contains eleven bays. The central three bays of the ground floor comprise the entrance, which is enhanced by columns. The windows on the first floor are round-headed; the rest of the windows are rectangular. In the central three bays of the fourth and fifth floors is a recessed balcony with Ionic columns. There are similar columns on these floors in the second and tenth bays. Above the sixth floor is a cornice with a balustrade.


The Sefton Suite

The public rooms contain columns, marble panelling, and coffered arches. The Central Court is top-lit, and contains pink marble pilasters, glazed screens, and French doors opening into restaurants on its sides. Beyond this is the Hypostyle Hall, containing Empire-style decoration and four Ionic columns. Beyond this is the Fountain Court.

The Sefton Suite in the hotel is in fact a replica of the First Class Smoking Lounge on the ill fated "Titanic".

The lounge was used in the 1981 TV series Brideshead Revisited as the interior of an ocean liner.

The Adelphi Hotel shot to fame in 1997 when it became the star of our TV screen with the first in an ever lasting conveyer belt of docu-soaps.

The 8 part series documented the trials and trauma of the prestigious Adelphi hotel; from the indoor barbecue which smoked out the banqueting hall to the infamous verbal onslaughts between Chef and Deputy Manager Brian which produced the now famous catch phrase; "Just cook will yer!"

The phrase was to turn up on T-shirts, tea towels and even in the charts, with the release of Alternative Radio's single, Just Cook Will Yer. The single began life as a joke simply to test out their new sampler and was given to BBC Radio Merseyside, keen to publicise Liverpool's new found Adelphi stars. After a huge success locally, the single was released by an independent record company, and even Eileen Downey, ferocious hotel manager, was said to be pleased.

Eileen was not the only member of staff to be turned into an overnight star. After the success of the single, Rob Fennah of Alternative Radio, was keen to launch Chef David Smith, and Deputy Manager Brian Birchill as a television duo. Fortunately for Ant and Dec, the pair remained loyal to the Adelphi.

The series commanded an impressive 11 million viewers, and even after being branded the 'real-life' Fawlty Towers, hotel booking increased by 20%, Basil Fawlty, eat your heart out!

The Adelphi Hotel has been the location for numerous ghost hunts and ghost walks and is a favourite spot of many local paranormal groups. Some guests have reported seeing the ghost of a man known as George standing next to their bed during the night. Other guests have reported that the third floor of the hotel in particular is haunted.

With thanks to Peter Ellis

for additional information

By Robert F Edwards

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