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The Cornmarket, Liverpool city centre; this week.

Byline: Mike Chapple at the bar..

WITH the credit crunch bean counters baying, the Pub Column took a sentimental journey this week.

To an alehouse that was once a favourite with hacks before empty wallets and the politically correct made the dinner time pint a sin akin to putting Gary Glitter's brick back in the Cavern's Wall of Fame.

The Cornmarket on Fenwick Street is the building Hitler's Luftwaffe couldn't level in one of the oldest areas of downtown Liverpool. Its sumptuously intimate interior, a wealth of wood and leather, was a favourite with The Plod, legal briefs and newspaper scribes who would use it as the perfect place to exchange clandestine tips away from the beady eye of Mr and Mrs Scall, during lunchtime breaks from the dock at the nearby crown courts in Derby Square.

Now those days have mostly gone but this lovely boozer is still popular with shoppers and the business crowd alike.

They're attracted by the gentlemen's club style ambience and its real ale, the pub having made a welcome return to the latest edition of the alternative Bible, the Camra Good Beer Guide.

It's also a favoured watering hole of photographer Terry Mealey, one of the last of the great old school of press snappers.

After bumping into him over a pint of Bombardier, Yours Truly told him of a comment made recently by another golden oldie, Di Poulson, the esteemed former women's editor of the Post's sister paper, the Echo.

"You know, Mike, we saw the best of times," she said wistfully with a side dish of sadness.

Terry, an ebullient Scouser with machine gun fire deadpan wit, responded with a heartfelt "Too right!" - the words naturally interspersed with one of his favourite expletives - before reeling off a list of journalistic anecdotes which would have turned the PC brigade in any human resources unit white with fright.

Landlord Kevin Smith, who has run the pub with wife Barbara for a marathon 18 years, treasures customers such as Terry like an antiques collector would an old portrait although it's disguised behind a wall of Liverpudlian irreverence.

When asked if a pub with such a vintage heritage had the ubiquitous ghostly horror haunting it, Kevin replied laconically: "Only Terry."

He's rightly proud of the Market which is an amalgam of two pubs, the other formerly called the Bull's Head before it was swallowed up. Much of its wooden interior is made up of material from the dying embers of another golden age, Liverpool's era as one of the mightiest maritime cities.

For instance the wooden panelling once graced the SS Reina del Pacific, one of the most luxurious ocean liners which regularly sailed from Liverpool to the west coast of the Americas. The wood, with its fireplace, was bought before it was scrapped in Wales in 1958.

He also trumpets its open food servery, whose excellent home made dishes punters can pick and instantly take on their plate to a table.

"That's what people want in these days when no-one seems to be allowed time for a proper lunch break," explained Kevin.

Which, in a way, is where we came in.


The Corn Market, off Fenwick Street
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 15, 2008
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