Local developers Jamworks are currently in the process of transforming the former Reeces Ballroom at 11 – 17 Parker Street, near to Clayton Square Shopping Centre, into 19 one-bedroom flats and 72 studios. The ground floor is currently Superdrug. Previous plans in 2011 by Tune Hotels did not come to fruition, and the floors have remained unused since the 1980’s.
During preparatory work a fascinating insights to the buildings history have been uncovered as illustrated in the following pictures:
The Beauty contest featured above was evidently to be attended by one of the world’s richest women, cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein
S. Reece & Sons Ltd (incorporated 1908) had cafes across Liverpool including at Nos. 9, 11, 13 Parker St. They also had offices, a dairy, and a bakery in Hawke St. Business must have been good as they invested in new premises built 1925 – 27 next door to the newly built Owen Owen building. Demolition started in 1923 as shown in the following pics (put cursor over for captions):
The building was ready for signing off during the summer of 1927 with the main building contractors of William Moss & Sons Ltd, Roscoe St Livepool having been the earlier successful tender:
£109, 287 Dated 11th Jan 1926 – ‘materials and labour in the Erection and Completion of Messrs. Recces’ new premises Clayton Square Liverpool’
The Records Office at Liverpool Central Library holds a large number of records in relation to the tenders, correspondence and architects drawings. The architects being Edmund Kirby & Sons of 5 Cook St Liverpool.
The ‘Spring Floor’ was supplied and fitted by Francis Morton, Junior & Co, London, who also supplied the Grafton Rooms, and the Adelphi Hotel
The build was clearly not without issues. A parquet floor needed replacing after lifting, there were arguments over awarding of contracts, a long running dispute with Standard Telephones & Cables Ltd over the music and wireless system supplied, and work was halted during the General Strike of 1926.
The LRO records show there were many fine fittings and décor, especially in the Lodge Room/Masonic Suite: – ‘six columns for Lodge Room – Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic together with the pilasters are to be fluted’
The Ladies Cloak Room was fitted with ‘ruboleum’ –
The layout of the building is apparent from a ‘Copy of Information re stairs, lifts etc. supplied to Liverpool Police’
Basement: – Smoke-room 73ft x 50ft x 13’ 1’’ high, and Lounge 34ft x 24ft x 13’ 1’’ high
Ground Floor – Shop and light refreshments 110ft x 50ft x 17’ 1’’ high
1st Floor – Main Dining Room – 110ft x 50ft x 11’10’’ high
2nd floor – Café – 110ft x 50ft x 11’7’’ high
3rd Floor – Ball Room – 110ft x 50ft x 12’ high
4th Floor – Masonic Suite 50ft x 55ft x 12’ high, and Banqueting Hall 66ft x 27ft x 12 high
5th Floor – Broken up into Cold Storage and other small rooms essential to the kitchen’ 110ft x 50ft x 11ft high
Back Staircase – 4ft wide
Main Staircase – 6ft wide
Emergency Escape Staircase – 3rd to ground floor only – 3’ 11’’ wide
Small goods lift – 4’ 6’’ x 4’ 4’’
Large goods lift – 6’ x 4’ 9’’
Main Passenger Lifts x 3 – 5’ 4’’ x 3’ 10’’
Once open the premises were clearly a hive of activity as can be seen from it’s adverts:
The cafe gets a mention in a book about the infamous Julia Wallace ‘Man from The Pru’ murder of 1931. One of the suspects, Richard Gordon Parry, having been arrested at the cafe for theft.
A piece from The Liverpolitan Vol.13 No.12 pg.33, December 1948 paints a delightful picture of the ballroom and gives us some social history:
A RENDEVOUS TO DELIGHT DANCERS
‘The tremendous increase in the number of devotes of the Terpsichorean art must be apparent to every social observer. At one time dancing was a form of recreation enjoyed almost exclusively by the middle and upper classes. That is not the case today for the art is practised by practically all. This is largely due to the new freedom which has found expression in a thousand different ways since the end of the Great War, and partly to the discovery on the part of many who were formerly prejudiced against dancing as a pastime that its pursuit is in no way detrimental to morality.
With characteristic foresight, when Messrs Reece embarked upon the erection of their magnificent restaurant in Parker St, they decided that the whole of the third floor should be laid out as a ballroom. From the pictures reproduced on this page it will be seen that it is spacious and airy. The spring floor is of the most modern construction and gives perfect enjoyment to the patrons. Another advantage is found in its easy accessibility from all parts.
During the winter, tea dances are held every afternoon in the week, and except on Wednesdays and Saturdays, no charge is made to those who reserve tables for tea. On Wednesday and Saturday afternoons the charge is 1s, which does not include refreshments, whilst on Saturday nights the charge is 2s. 6d.
The music is provided by Reece’s own band under the leadership of Mr Bert Pearson. Playing together throughout the year has enabled the musicians to play a large selection of dance tunes with that rhythm and colour which makes dancing easy and creates a strong desire to take the floor.
But one need not be a dancer to enjoy a visit to Reece’s ballroom. It attracts a sufficient number of elegantly apparelled dancers whose obvious ability and pleasure it is delightful to observe. Half an hour spent over tea on the fringe of the dance floor will offer rest and joy to jaded bodies and minds’
Reece’s was famously the venue for the wedding reception of John and Cynthia Lennon in 1962. As it was not a licensed premises, guests at the wedding breakfast had to toast the couple with water
Christmas was evidently a highlight at Reece’s, as highlighted by this cutting from The Liverpolitan magazine of December 1948 featuring manager Mr. E. A. Verando:
Many renown guests over the years included LFC shareholders:
An advert from 1934:
Were you a Reesonian?……why not share your memories of Reece’s? Did you read the company magazine first issued 31st Dec 1930?
The developers vision post re-development with roof-top extension:
UPDATE – Nov 2016: with pics
Developer Caro Developments is about to convert the upper floors of the Parker Street building, which in 1962 hosted the wedding of John and Cynthia Lennon to apartments. Tony McDonough reports.
Liverpool Records Office references:
338.1 Ree – Reesonian 31st Dec 1930
720KIR/2699, 2700, 2701, 2702, 2697, 2698 – various correspondence, drawings, tenders etc held by architects Edmund Kirby & Co.