'Proper ale house' people travel over 600 miles to visit where karaoke never stops

Coopers Townhouse on a busy weekday afternoon
Coopers Townhouse on a busy weekday afternoon -Credit:Liverpool ECHO

Tucked away from the main stretch of pubs on Ranelagh Street sits Coopers Townhouse. A small unassuming pub nestled at the corner of Cases Street, a short stretch of road outside Clayton Square.

At first glance, Coopers is a humble pub, one that could easily pass you by. But that couldn't be further from the truth. What happens inside of its four walls has kept customers coming back for decades.

It’s a Tuesday afternoon when I visit Coopers and many of the pubs in the area are quiet at this time of week. The only sounds heard when walking by are small murmurs and glasses clinking here and there. But Coopers is a pub you can hear before you can see it, no matter what day of the week. And this is down to its most popular feature - the famous karaoke.

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It’s 5pm and a woman is having the time of her life singing a rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’. Some tables are singing along while others are seemingly so used to the karaoke they have become lost in their own conversations.

There is not one empty seat in the whole pub and even standing space is limited. The pub is only getting busier the later it gets and it is the type of place where you can't just stay for one drink, you never know what you might miss. Last week a couple got engaged inside Coopers, a video which was uploaded to social media showed the heart-warming moment.

It is not yet 6pm but people are packed together as they are serenaded by the uninterrupted flow of karaoke singers who couldn’t care less what they sound like as they try their hand at hits from a range of genres, from heavy metal to Motown.

People enjoying themselves inside Coopers
People enjoying themselves inside Coopers -Credit:Liverpool ECHO

The manager of the pub, Maria Azzopardi, has been in charge of Coopers for 10 years but has been a member of staff for 28 years. She thanks the likes of TikTok for keeping the unique atmosphere that is hard to come by in any other venue located across the city centre, particularly during the week.

Coopers has a live stream running across all of its social media pages for the majority of the day, meaning people from across the globe can tune in to catch a small glimpse of this unique Liverpool pub and all it has to offer. Maria said: ‘’TikTok has a big influence on the pub at the minute and trade is really good.’’

People will come from far and wide to visit Coopers and Maria thinks this is not only down to TikTok but word of mouth too. A couple had recently visited the pub from Germany after they watched a video of the karaoke online. They booked flights that same night to arrive in Liverpool first thing in the morning and booked the last flight home. They spent the whole day in Coopers and even got up for a song or two.

Others will get the ferry over to Liverpool just to spend the day in Coopers. Maria added: ‘’We have girls that travel every fortnight from the Isle of Man, they get here about half eleven and are still here at around six before catching the last ferry home.’’

This was a pub no bigger than the size of a living room but this only made the atmosphere feel alive as there was no choice but to talk to those around you.

Maria believes the one thing customers enjoy the most about the Coopers' experience is the karaoke and said they were the first pub in Liverpool to do karaoke properly and the only pub that ‘’does all day entertainment, ten hours every single day from 1pm until 11pm.’’

Customers enjoying karaoke at Coopers
Customers enjoying karaoke at Coopers -Credit:Liverpool ECHO

While you may think of Coopers as a pub that has a certain clientele there has been a big increase in younger people coming in and mixing with the older regulars and the staff say a lot of this is down to the huge influence social media has had on them.

One of the regulars, Tommy, is standing alone at the back of the bar and has been coming to the pub for over 30 years now. He remembers coming as a kid and says not much has changed over the years and it is the best pub in Liverpool ‘’because of the karaoke.’’

But it wasn’t only regulars in here on a Tuesday afternoon there was a group who had visited from St Helens for St George’s Day. Colin Scott was on a pub crawl with five other friends and said: ‘’It’s always busy here. We don't come in very often as we drink around St Helens but when we come to Liverpool we will come to Coopers and it’s memorable every time.’’

Rhys Mclarrigan, also on the pub crawl, said he probably comes to Coopers once a month for a ‘’good laugh and a good time’’ he believes what sets it apart from other venues in Liverpool is its atmosphere. Rhys was waiting in line for karaoke where he was set to take on Harry Styles’ hit, Watermelon Sugar.

Group of friends from St Helens visited Coopers for St George's Day (Colin Scott centre / Rhys Mclarrigan right)
Group of friends from St Helens visited Coopers for St George's Day (Colin Scott centre / Rhys Mclarrigan right) -Credit:Liverpool ECHO

For three decades, Steve Keegan, 60, has been a familiar face in the pub. Working as the entertainment manager he has seen a lot of changes in his long tenure. He recognises the changes are something to be celebrated with the ‘’dynamic of the pub changing due to a bigger cross-section of people coming in.'' The only complaint Steve had was that when he joined thirty years ago it was a ''pound a pint pub''.

He jokingly admits six days a week doing entertainment isn’t enough for some people as they moan if he doesn’t live stream across social media. He added: ‘’For many people who don’t have the money to come down or live too far away, it’s just a chance to sit in the comfort of your own home and feel like you're part of something.''

Despite being so close to the army of traditional pubs and Irish bars facing Central Station, Coopers has never felt in the shadow of its neighbours. Steve and Maria both agree that it is great to be in an area where there is a lot going on and everyone is in "the same boat" yet each pub offers its customers a different experience.

Coopers is a small pub with a massive heart and everyone who walks through its doors will understand why it continues to be such a successful little pub, decades after it first opened its doors.

Amid the singing, dancing, laughter and the rest of the madness, one customer summed Coopers up perfectly by describing it as a place ''every Scouser must visit at least once in their lives.''

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