Lost tea rooms that became 'synonymous' with famous Liverpool street

Martin Cooper, standing outside his cafe - restaurant, The Armadillo Tea Rooms in Mathew Street. June 21, 1982
-Credit: (Image: Mirrorpix)

A lost team room that opened nearly 50 years ago in the city centre became "synonymous" with a famous Liverpool street.

Opening in 1978, The Armadillo Tea Rooms was set up by restaurateur Martin Cooper at the Liverpool School in Mathew Street. A hub for punks, poets, musicians and artists from across the city, it served everything from tea and coffees to an array of vegetarian meals and more.

The year it opened, the Liverpool Daily Post reported how the venue was "housed delightfully in an unique centre of Scouse eccentricity, the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun." At the time, reporter Paul Jacot went to sample some of the food on offer, such as haricot bean soup and vegetable moussaka.

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He said: "The people are civilised here - and it’s hard not to be in such an ambience. I discovered this at lunch one day this week with a colleague, who is a regular habitué. And from now on, so shall I be…" He continued: "As you have to fetch your own food, there is a constant bustle of movement around. And constant temptation."

By 1982, The Armadillo Tea Rooms had been nominated as one of the best eating places in Britain as part of a new guide to restaurant guides. On June 21 that year, the ECHO reported how the venue had gone from "a vision to a success story."

Martin Cooper, standing outside his cafe - restaurant, The Armadillo Tea Rooms in Mathew Street. June 21, 1982
Martin Cooper, standing outside The Armadillo Tea Rooms in Mathew Street, 1982 -Credit:Mirrorpix

The article reads: "Martin Cooper is one of THE characters of Mathew Street. Some say he IS Mathew Street.

"The Armadillo Tea Rooms are his first love and lasting obsession. He is one of the most progressive restaurateurs in the city."

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At the time, Mr Cooper said: "The Tea Rooms aren't exactly a restaurant though. It's a sort of place where everyone can come and mingle and stay all day over a cup of coffee if they want to.

"I think the Armadillo has become synonymous with Mathew Street. I suppose, in a way, we are a success story and an example for others to follow.

"The thing I like about Mathew Street is the cosmopolitan atmosphere which you just don't get anywhere else." At the time, the venues' regular clientele included local rock groups, poets, artists, mingling with lunchtime shoppers and office workers.

The business was also set to move to another premises on Mathew Street. One images, courtesy of our archives Mirrorpix, offers a glimpse of life at The Armadillo Tea Rooms back in 1982.

Flanagan's Apple, pub. Mathew Street, Liverpool, Merseyside. 21st April 1992.
Flanagan's Apple pub, Mathew Street, 1992. -Credit:Mirrorpix

Unseen for years, it shows Martin Cooper smiling and the logo of an illustration of an armadillo outside. In 1985, the ECHO also referred to the business as "internationally renowned."

In November, the ECHO reported: "Self-service by day, waitress service in the evenings, it provides for everyone—even vegetarians, and those whose diets are dictated by their religion."

However, by the 1990s, Mathew Street said goodbye to The Armadillo Tea Rooms. Today, the Flanagan's Apple pub calls the site home, but many still have fond memories of the tea rooms and the buzzing 80s music scene that went on around it.

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