Long history of The Monro as a famous pub set to reopen

Outside The Monro on Duke Street, in October 1983
-Credit: (Image: Courtesy of Liverpool Central Library and Archives)

The Monro is set to reopen after it was "forced to close" last October - but did you know that the site itself has been in the city for well over two centuries?

For decades, The Monro has attracted locals and tourists alike, with its traditional pub atmosphere and maritime theme and later its popular Sunday roast and more recently, Greek food menu. But its life in the city began way before the pub we've come to know today.

The world's first enclosed dock was built in Liverpool in 1715, designed by Thomas Steers. Within 50 years, the increase in trade from the new dock led to the right-hand side of the new enclosed dock being developed.

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The Monro venue is said to have appeared for the first time on a map in 1750 but as two merchants' homes. At that time, the city centre would have looked very different, having mansions with gardens nearby.

One former resident of The Monro was John Bolton, a wealthy merchant and slave trader. According to National Museums Liverpool, Bolton was a supporter of the Liberal Tories George Canning and William Huskisson and their headquarters were based at Bolton’s residence in Duke Street.

The Monro is said to have started as a beer, wine and spirit merchant, selling and delivering ales to the fine houses in the local area. The pub itself, once known as The Monro Tavern, is named after the first scheduled passenger service to run from Liverpool to New York, The James Monro.

Outside The Monro on Duke Street, in 1968
Outside The Monro on Duke Street, 1968 -Credit:Courtesy of Liverpool Central Library and Archives

Part of the famous Black Ball Line, formed in 1817, the three-masted sailing ship was in turn named after then-US President, James Monro. Later transforming into a more traditional pub that locals have come to know today, for decades, thousands from the city and beyond have come to The Monro to socialise and enjoy a drink.

These photos, courtesy of Liverpool Central Library and Archives, offer a glimpse into what The Monro looked like in bygone years and many will remember the site as it looks here. One image, taken in 1968, shows outside the pub, when it had the Walkers' lettering on the building, whereas another, taken in 1983, shows pedestrians and the site when it was a Tetley pub.

Have you ever visited The Monro pub on Duke Street? Let us know in the comments section below.

First listed in March 1975, The Monro is Grade II and has become one of the city's most famous pubs. By 2003, the site saw a major change as it was turned into a gastro pub.

Over 20 years ago, the owner restored and refurbished the site, while recreating some of the architectural detail that had been lost through the years. In 2022, owner Will Lyons made the decision to move away from its usual gastropub grub, instead offering Greek food and an extensive cocktail menu.

At the time, Will told the ECHO that the changes ultimately boiled down to the cost of living and keeping The Monro open and thriving. But a year on, last October, he announced that The Monro was "forced to close."

The Monro on Duke Street is set to close
The Monro on Duke Street is now closed -Credit:Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

At the time, a statement published on behalf of Will Lyons and the team at The Monro read: "After 20 wonderful years at The Monro, it is with great sadness we announce that we have been forced to close.

"Despite our best efforts to keep the doors open until Christmas, the situation is beyond our control. As such, we must leave the premises by Friday, October 13th. Our wish was to honour the bookings our loyal customers have made and go out in style at the end of the year. Sadly, in business, wishes don't always come true.

"We know many of you have bookings for the coming days, weeks and months and have paid deposits. We will contact customers about your reservation as soon as possible.

"As you can imagine, this news has been a massive shock to all of us, our families and loved ones. All of whom are now without jobs in the lead-up to Christmas. It's a shame to end on this note, but here we are. We are grateful for your support and loyalty over the years. It's people like you that made it all worthwhile."

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The bar above, called The Oracle, relocated to Seel Street in December while, to the delight of many, The Monro will now return this summer after it was acquired by the 1936 Pub Company.

The 1936 Pub Company is behind the renovations of city centre pubs including The Vines, The White Hart, The Red Lion and The Queen of Hope Street. The new Monro will join the collection when it reopens its doors in July as a statement shared on Instagram said it will be "returning with a bang".

The venue's transformation is being charted on Instagram.

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