January 2024 marks 50 years since Ma Boyle’s first relocated to its current home in the Tower Building in Tower Gardens in Liverpool.
It was first known as Ma Boyle’s Oyster Bar, after the original proprietor Kay Boyle ran the business as a coffee shop. After switching coffee beans for oysters at the turn of the Twentieth Century, Ma Boyle’s quickly became something of an institution. Traders in the Liverpool docks boom years and those working in professional services made up Ma Boyle’s clientele in the original location of 2 Old Hall Street.
Its entrance, much like its Tower Building counterpart, was unassuming and discreetly tucked away down a side street. Inside was again a basement bar but with triple height ceilings with its trademark beautiful marble-topped bar and world famous for its seafood and oysters. Interestingly, Ma Boyle’s was one of the first ever ‘no smoking bars’ on account that the cigar smoke would have unduly flavoured the oysters.
Old Hall Street was home to Ma Boyle’s for over 100 years, finally closing its doors on New Year’s Eve 1973, due the building being demolished to make way for the new underground Merseyrail Moorfields station. The only surviving item from its Old Hall Street days is the stunning Royal Imperial mirror that once was pride of place behind the bar in Old Hall Street and is now situated in the main bar area in the current Tower Gardens location.
A constant talking point for those visiting Ma Boyle’s is the stunning mosaic tribute to the Old Hall Street location, Liverpool docks and business district that was commissioned by renowned ceramics artist Jean Powell for the opening of the Tower Gardens Ma Boyles in 1974 – and is still the centrepiece in entrance area of the bar to this day.
Ma’s has navigated history, through the rise and fall and rise again of the city where she had docked for over 160 years and has evolved and changed like the city itself. Through wars, pandemics, poverty and boom years, it remained a constant to all who worked and socialised in the business district through generations of patrons. Ma Boyle’s home is now in the stunning Grade II* listed Tower Building with its basement lounge sat upon the catacombs of the original Liverpool gaol, a history lesson in Liverpool itself. The oysters may be no more, but its most recent reinvention has Ma Boyle’s as the home of the famous Scouse stew, the most popular dish on the menu, which attracts tourists from all over the world. And to help celebrate the 50thanniversary, on Wednesday 31st January there’s a special 2-4-1 offer available all day for Ma’s famous Scouse and booking in advance is strongly recommended.
Current owner Iain Hoskins, who rescued Ma Boyle’s from permanent closure in 2015, explains:
“We all love how Ma’s is richly steeped in history, and when we found out that January 2024 was 50 years of being in Tower Gardens we wanted to share this wonderful story. It’s fascinating to see how the heart and soul of Ma’s has remained essentially the same – a much loved place to socialise, celebrate and party, and it’s this DNA we still have in the present day. We’re tucked away off Water Street and nestled by the beautiful St Nick’s church gardens and as Ma’s has seen the city change it’s always stayed true to its maritime roots. Since I took over Ma’s we’ve sought to enhance and refine the splendid space as a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city and a place to escape in. It’s been a wonderful 9 years for me and the team and a lot has happened during this time as we have developed and honoured the legend of Ma’s. Every time I walk in the walls resonate with its storied past and how it came to be here. The pandemic was tough and we questioned whether Ma Boyle’s would have a future in the new realities of people working from home. I’m happy to say that she’s bounced back stronger and her future is assured.”
“I knew Ma Boyle’s was special when I first saw the site and understood its history and heritage. As a port city and famous trading centre, just imagine all the conversations, stories and energy which unfolded here. It really has a special place in the city’s lore. You can’t buy history like that, which makes Ma’s truly one of Liverpool’s longest running names in hospitality. And I feel the story is set to continue. We’re offering our famous Scouse on Wednesday 31st January to honour the fabulous history of Ma Boyle’s.”
The award-winning Ma Boyle’s serves breakfast brunches, liquid lunches and its brilliant bistro food, a place where groups of friends meet, couples catch up and meetings are made. Sumptuous food is complimented by a wonderful range of drinks and irresistible cocktails.
You can book your table here.