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Feature pubs of the month

An ex-dairy depot and a listed Gothic hotel are transformed into pubs.

The North Western

This iconic landmark grade II listed building was reopened as The North Western in July 2015, becoming Wetherspoon’s 12th outlet located in and around Liverpool. Originally the North Western Hotel, with its eye-catching Gothic spires and turrets, the 330-room hotel first opened its doors in 1871. It was built by the London and North Western Railway to serve Lime Street Station.

The North Western

It was designed by the renowned Liverpool-born architect Alfred Waterhouse. Two of Waterhouse’s other well-known buildings are Manchester’s town hall and London’s Natural History Museum. The hotel closed in the early 1930s and remained empty until 1996. The upper floors were then converted into halls of residence for John Moore’s University, while the ground floor became a public house in 2000, called The Head of Steam, closing again in 2013.

The North Western

Wetherspoon spent £2 million developing the new outlet which, at the rear of the pub, opens directly onto Lime Street Station concourse. There is also a rear balcony external terrace. The North Western’s design has a vintage rail theme throughout, bringing elements of rail and industry into the interior design scheme. An aged-effect hand-painted tile map, inspired by vintage rail stations, is a distinctive feature above the bar area. 

Traditional full-height original panelling, which has been retained in the main area, creates a cosy, traditional pub atmosphere, while blending with the building’s grandeur. Grand existing pillars have been dressed in heritage tones, with finishes in striking metallic silver, for a touch of contemporary in a heavily traditional space, while the artwork and bespoke light fittings are a blend of vintage-meets-contemporary styles.

The North Western

There is vintage rail-inspired artwork throughout, including vintage posters and photographs, adding to the pub’s grand, classy vintage feel. There are also engineering and steam-inspired light-fittings, as well as a ‘wheel and piston’ sculpture by artworker Cath Davies.

The North Western

The Mossy Well

The Mossy Well, in Muswell Hill, which opened in October 2015, is the latest addition to Wetherspoon’s pubs in and around London. The site, more recently The Village pub, was previously the Express Dairy Building – and that history is reflected throughout this outlet.

The Mossy Well

The opening of The Mossy Well, at a cost of just over £3 million, also signals Wetherspoon’s return to the north London area of Muswell Hill. The company opened its first-ever pub in 1979, around half a mile from this site.

The Mossy Well

The pub is set over two floors of the former Express Dairy Building which once comprised the dairy yard and a tea room to the front. These premises have been part restored and part newly built. The original single-storey property was a purpose-built tea room from 1900, with the Express Dairy milk depot to the rear, entered through the now filled-in archway at the end of the building.

The Mossy Well

Most of the existing high-level elevation has been retained, including original details to the front gable, while the shop front has now been replaced with a new opening shop front.

The metal-truss-roofed access to the yard has been retained and restored, including exposed trusses. A new mansard first-floor loft area forms the upper customer area, with exposed steel detail, featuring roof lights over double-height voids.

The Mossy Well

The pub has two bars and a bespoke carpet design, as well as reclaimed furniture inside. There are also two reclaimed Victorian fireplaces, uncovered on site, restored and in use again.

There is a terrace area to the front and rear of the pub, as well as a landscaped courtyard garden, to the rear, incorporating the external ‘milk float’ bar.

The Mossy Well

There is also a secret woodland, with several semi-mature trees, covered areas, fixed seating, heaters, a water feature, reclaimed furniture and bespoke lighting. The pub, which is wheelchair accessible, has a specially adapted ‘Changing Places’ WC for those with disabilities or unable to use standard accessible toilets.

The Mossy Well

There are several original artworks and commissioned pieces, including local artists’ paper sculpture work, commissioned painting, local photographers’ works and a sculpted solid timber cow on display in the garden.