A.J. Walker



The White Hart: and The Engineer

I’d such a soft spot for the Keystone and I was so disappointed when it closed back in May 2022 (see a short blog on its farewell here). I remember being at the last drinks in there with a few of the regulars, and it was the feeling of a wake: sadness tinged with smiles for the memories. The follow up place was more food focused and didn’t hang around long at all. Last week the latest incarnation which appeared from the flames of the phoenix erupted onto the Liverpool scene as the White Hart and, its smaller sister pub, The Engineer. And I can report that they both look and feel fab. If you don't know where they are the White Hart is on Hope Street sandwiched between the Everyman and the Casa, and the entrance for the Engineer is on Arrad Street, which is parallel to Hope Street behind the WH (although the Engineer can also be accessed through the WH) Another sister pub—the Queen of Hope Street—is a few doors down on the corner opposite both the Philharmonic Pub and the Philharmonic Hall.

The White Hart, Hope Street

Those familiar Keystone/White Hart steps

As a sister pub to the Red Lion, Vines, Queen of Hope Street et al it has much of the same form of decoration with dark wood, plenty of paintings & prints, stuffed birds and animals and the like along with the candles and wood fires. The White Hart in particular looks like it has been there, in its current form, for years—much like the Red Lion did when that appeared on Slater Street. They’ve put up plenty of dark wood and some shelving around the edges of the rooms so there’s plenty of places for you to drop your drinks on—and for them to put those essential candles on—which are a necessity in this series of pubs). They’ve knocked a wall down near the bar too. With the decor and darker colours the phoenix process has produced it is amazing how much such a relatively small space has changed (see pics below). The room on the left as you come seems a little smaller than it was due to the changes to the edges of it. I used to come to the Open Mic here, hosted by John Witherspoon, and it hard to see if it could work in there now. That is not a negative though, as the room feels very homely—especially with the heat from the obligatory wood fire.

FirstRoom WH
The first room on the left as you enter the White Hart

Last time I played open mic at the Keystone, April 2002. Looks a lot different now (the pub, not me).

Six cask lines on the WH bar

There are rooms upstairs in the White Hart and even a second bar (not sure when it is planned to be used during the week). The downstairs room which used to host some events is not in use now, indeed it may be that it disappears as the cellar will probably need to be extended to keep all the drinkers happily watered. The main bar on the ground floor is just where it was in the Keystone
era and there are now six cask lines. It is very much a wet led pub, so much so that the kitchen that was used during the earlier iterations has been fitted out as a separate pub: The Engineer. As mentioned earlier accessed from Arrad St or through the WH: access through the conservatory. It has four cask lines, with a similar choice of beers to the WH. There’s a set of stairs above the street entrance which lead up to a mezzanine where there are three small rooms (formerly offices/storage for the kitchen) not that dissimilar in vibe to the cells in the Bridewell. There’s also a few seats and casks for putting your drinks on along the mezzanine corridor itself. Each room has a TV, so if your in a small group you may be lucky enough to claim a room to watch the footy (or a.n.other sport, of course). There’s also a TV above the door to the conservatory. There are several TVs along the the centre of the conservatory fixed to the ceiling.

Spot the difference—I may be in both. (Keystone above, WH below)

The view from above on the mezzanine in the Engineer

Four cask lines on in the Engineer.

It’s only been open twelve days or so and I’ve been three times. Each times it’s been very busy. Each time the service has been excellent. And each time I’ve ended up meeting some lovely people. So although it may not be the Keystone, it is boss to see it back in use and I’m sure it’ll survive significantly longer than the last venue did (sorry, I can’t even recall its name).

Well done to all involved in the design and implementation of the works involved with the new venues: and best of luck. See you soon. Again.

All Too Early Closing

Last Sunday was a very sad day for me and many others who frequented, or worked, at the Keystone: it closed for good. There had been a few rumours over the preceding month but it was only formerly announced on Tuesday and then closed just five days later. It was very much one of my go-to pubs in Liverpool so will create a big hole for my visits into town. I've read books there, listed to music, written stories, and of course played some music too. My Thursdays in particular will be much the poorer with the demise of the pub and John Witherspoon's open mic.

There is hope that the open mic will move to another local pub. I hope it can.

The Keystone garden.

The venue has gone through several iterations over the years, probably most notably the Clove Hitch, but opened last year as the Keystone when the pubs were only allowed to serve in outdoor settings. Its garden at the back made the place one of the few ale places available during this time. I found it early doors in those initial daft cold months of those stupid rules and fell for the place immediately.

A pint in the conservatory. Very good place to write.

I used the indoors for writing a few times. It was a good environment for it and the music didn't tend to be too loud.

A burger and a pint before going to the Arts Club for the Magic Numbers gig.

The Tempo roasts were mega.

They went through a few in house food providers like Boffo Burger and more recently Tempo kitchen. Those burgers were lovely, and the Sunday lunches by Tempo were awesome.


There was always a great mix of people in the pub. Locals, regulars, and some students (thankfully not too many of them of course). There were plenty of events that used the Keystone. In addition to the open mic there were regular quizzes, open mic comedy, film nights and Meet the Brewer events. All the people involved in this will miss the Key all the more.

Which Scrivener project to open? When the weather was okay you could write outdoors too.

It was such a shame to see if go from my perspective but of course it was worse for the staff. It was good to hear that Charley, Ryan, Ben, Jess and all were able to get at least some work in other places within the week of being told of the closure. And I can only wish them all the best for the future. The beer, the music, the events and the food all made the place but the staff truly made it a great place to go.

Went to the Keystone on the last afternoon to help drink the place dry. You have to pitch in at times like this.

Farewell to the Keystone and good luck to all who sailed in her. Now, what am I doing on Thursday?