Liverpool is a city that you may have seen before…It might have been in your living room or it could have been at the cinema; if you’re a film fan then you’ll know that Liverpool isn’t shy when it comes to the big screen.
Recently hailed by acclaimed director Stephen Poliakoff as a wonderful city for filming, we’re the most filmed city outside of London and the holy grail of film buffs. The city has starred as itself, America’s ‘body double’, 1920s Birmingham, the scene of magic and wizardry and of course, told the stories of its most precious sons, The Beatles.
If you’re looking for something different to do on your trip to Liverpool, why not star in your own Liverpool movie and visit these iconic film locations? Our itinerary plans the perfect route to see them all, and points out plenty of things to do in Liverpool along the way.
This tunnel welcomes travellers from the Wirral area and beyond - if you’re already making the trip through, why not follow Harry and Hagrid’s dangerous route as they raced to escape the death eaters during the seven Potters scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One (although, we do warn that speeding magical motorbikes are strictly prohibited!)
If you’re more of a need-for-speed film junkie, this tunnel also serves as one of the locations to the many fast-paced pursuits that take place in Fast and Furious 6. Tunnel fees are all listed here.
Whether you came through the Queensway Tunnel, or you gave that one a miss – your next stop can be one that everyone loves; food.
On your way to the next film location, take a quick break and visit the Titanic Hotel, where rum and tobacco imports were once stored, for some breakfast or brunch at their Stanley’s Bar & Grill. With their open kitchens and rustic yet luxurious interior, it’s a great spot to relax before the excitement continues. They serve a delicious breakfast buffet and all the classics, as well as a young person’s menu for any little ones enjoying the ride.
Around the corner from your pit-stop, you can’t miss the World Heritage Unesco site of Stanley Dock. Sitting proudly at the heart of Liverpool’s dock empire, here lies the location of two huge blockbusters: Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey Jnr. And Jude Law), and Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger - (skip to 2:48 in the video below to see Liverpool!) Stanley Dock has shaped a reputation for itself as the perfect alternative to a period film environment; it’s inland location means it’s easy to lock down for filming while its distinctive 1850s Victorian exterior proves a convincing doppelganger for many film briefs.
For Captain America: The First Avenger, the production team did a month’s preparation for the five-day shoot at Stanley Dock which included reflagging the warehouses with York Stone. It’s not hard to imagine you’re in the midst of a 1940s Brooklyn submarine dock here. A dramatic slow-motion sequence in Sherlock Holmes was also captured here, as Dr. Holmes and friends trigger an explosive booby trap.
The highly acclaimed TV series, Peaky Blinders has also made use of Stanley Dock’s cobbled stones. The dock unsurprisingly filled the brief of the Victorian industrial gangland of Birmingham, doubling as Garrison Lane for a dramatic gunfight between rival gangs (can you guess which one?), and featured in the first season as Tommy’s attempt to bribe Freddie to leave Birmingham is unsuccessful.
Opposite Lime Street Station and at the heart of Liverpool’s cultural core, the magnificent St. George’s Hall stands proudly. A neo-classical architectural masterpiece and a grade I listed building, it’s no surprise that it has played host to an assortment of different blockbusters including the 51st State (2001) and J.K. Rowling’s prequel to the Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (The image below shows a comparison of St George's Hall in the film and how the building looks every day)
To the right side of the hall, step inside the shoes of Felix DeSouza (Robert Cayle) as he approaches a food stall in 51st state and St. George’s Hall towers majestically in the background.
One of the most anticipated films of the year Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has also shot scenes inside and outside of the grand structure. Out on November 18th 2016, but a set laden with American flags and old-fashioned 1920s cars, complete with New York licence plates, were spotted, and a thriving crowd of top hats and period costume were all seen cascading across the steps of the Great Hall.
Open from 10am to 5pm including Bank Holidays, you can take the Heritage Route for free around the hall, or join one of the many knowledgeable guides on a unique tour. More info here.
If you’re mad on magic, why not book your stay during May 18th, where Liverpool Echo Arena will see the wizarding world brought to life with ‘Harry Potter Film Concert Series’. You’ll witness a live symphony orchestra performing John Williams’ stunning music to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This is set to be spell-binding night that no witch or wizard should miss. Find out more information here.
Outtake for Lunch
There is a café located inside St. George’s but if you’re keen to see more of the city, Lovelock’s on Old Haymarket is a new independent café and the perfect place to grab a homemade meal and sample some fantastic Merseyside-roasted coffee. Owner Sarah has ensured Lovelock’s caters to a variety of diets – vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs – so everyone can enjoy a slice during their Hollywood trip.
Next stop on our movie expedition is in one of the most sought after areas in Liverpool - The Georgian Quarter. With a plan of building a grand housing location beginning in 1800 by John Foster Snr., it’s no wonder that the beautiful and elegant townhouses of Georgian persuasion have been cast as many a backdrop to a variety of period films.
For the 2009 coming of age story of a future Beatle, John Lennon, Nowhere Boy stars the beautiful Canning Street in one scene – to which the imposing Liverpool Cathedral can be seen towering over the quarter. You can walk down this same street, beside the same elegant townhouses and make like a Georgian gentleman or lady, or better yet…a Beatle.
A little up the road, season 2 of Peaky Blinders saw Sandon Street, opposite Falkner Square, hold an explosive scene at a white-washed townhouse as John Shelby petrol-bombs Field Marshal Henry Russell’s London home. Despite its gangster reputation in ‘Blinders, in reality it’s a beautiful film spot that is just waiting to be explored by you.
If you’re after one more movie fix and you’re not shy from travelling off the beaten path, visit Powis Street in Toxteth. Known to many as the Welsh Streets and close to a former home of Ringo Starr, the area comprises of around 450 derelict terraced houses. Its unconventional look has landed the area three different roles in Peaky Blinders; Little Italy, the lawless slum neighbourhoods of Birmingham, and Watery Lane.
As the first day of your film-seeking tour draws to an end, wander your way back towards the centre through the Georgian Quarter until you find Falkner Street and Hope Street. Down the cobbled streets of lower Falkner Street, you’ll find an array of restaurants to suit any taste such as Italian-inspired The Quarter and Pan-Asian eatery HoSt, with other options along Hope Street such as 60 Hope Street, Moose and Moonshine and The London Carriage Works. Satisfy that hunger with food fit for a Hollywood star.
Ready for the next reel of locations? Let’s go!
Today we’re heading straight for the centre of the city to some of the oldest and most important streets in Liverpool.
Our first stop is Castle Street, which formed part of the area Florence Foster Jenkins shot scenes, starring Hollywood superstars Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. A huge film crew and a host of actors in 1940s gear assembled here in 2015 as Castle Street, Water Street and the Liver Building made its debut masquerading as New York to shoot St Clair and Cosme trying to find a suitable concert venue for Florence. (The show below is taken with the iconic Liver Building on your left and Cunard on the right, looking up towards Water Street)
Cue your taste buds for some unbelievable brunch pancakes with the help of Moose Coffee just up the road from Liverpool Town Hall. Not only do they serve the best American-style grub this side of the Atlantic, it’s the exact pancake house where Tom Hardy and his co-star wife Charlotte Riley ate at while on a break from filming Peaky Blinders.
We’re heading to Dale Street for the next scene of your cinematic journey to find the Grade I listed, 18th century Liverpool Town Hall straight ahead. Well worth the visit alone, the Town Hall has been spotted in many feature films and TV series due to its beautiful aesthetic and of course, it’s reputation of being a structure fit for royalty and a Beatles homecoming celebration. You’ll be spoilt for the amount of films that have been shot here.
The ITV series Houdini and Doyle enveloped the Town Hall with ladies and gentleman laden with suffragette banners and period costume, as well as providing the exact spot where two Fast and Furious 6 cars were spotted filming a drag race in 2012. Reports have also been flooding in of a scene overloaded with vintage cars and 1920s attire for the filming of an Agatha Christie thriller, The Witness for the Prosecution. Watch this space…
Discover true Liverpudlian elegance through the halls Minto tile floor interior and 1909 mural walls on a monthly tour, annual open day or a private visit by appointment. More info here.
Carrying on down Dale Street, leading onto Water Street you’ll find the Grade II listed former Martins Bank on the right-hand side after the Town Hall. Designed by Herbert Rowse in 1932 in which he stated it as his ‘masterpiece’, the building was so important that it even housed the bulk of England’s gold during WWII. So, it’s no surprise that J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them used the buildings beautiful exterior to portray 1940s lavish New York. Reports also state that the turn-of-the-century Houdini & Doyle TV series made use of Martins Bank by placing ‘Home Office’ signs on the building’s façade for a particular scene.
A little further down Water Street to the left, infiltrate a scene straight out of 51st state at the nine-storey Florentine-inspired India Buildings; designed by the same architect as Martins Bank. This building features the scene where a kilted, golf-club wielding Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson) brawls, while Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle) fumbles behind with a golf bag…
Continue ambling down and you’ll no doubt do a double take. During Florence Foster Jenkins, pianist Cosme McMoon is hired as Florence’s pianist and seems to step out into bustling 43rd Street in ‘New York’ but, wait one minute, that’s right! It’s not New York, it’s Liverpool’s Water Street again!
Outtake for Lunch
Still on the New York-esque strip of beautiful Water street, visit the secret space of OH ME OH MY for some lunch. If you’re up for being completely star-struck…step through the secret floral curtains to take the lift up to Goodness Gracious roof garden for a well-earned tipple… (Open Spring/Summer only) You’ll feel like you’re behind the scenes of a magical feature film as you gaze out at Liverpool’s waterfront and the Royal Liver Building, watching the world go by amongst the botanicals.
Next up, we’re heading to three buildings on the world famous waterfront that probably look like CGI, but definitely aren’t – The Three Graces. The Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building here form one of the most recognised skylines in the world.
Taking the lead role of Liverpool’s beautiful architecture, Water Street between the Cunard Building and the Royal Liver Building has also played a part in the feature film Florence Foster Jenkins. The strip welcomed vintage taxis as the Cunard building played a doppelganger to New York’s 1902-built Hotel Seymour and Florence’s Manhattan residence. The newspaper stand that St Clair and Cosme approach to find reviews of Florence’s performance? Yep, that was shot outside The Royal Liver Building too.
Welcome to the Albert Dock – a creation that began in 1841 and officially opened in 1846 by Prince Albert. Once home to the Liverpool Dock Office and built to accommodate sailing ships with a cargo capacity of up to 1,000 tonnes, the beautiful structure now plays its role as a redeveloped entertainment and cultural hub of shops, restaurants, museums…and movie backdrops.
2015 saw film crews for an upcoming film, The Black Prince, descend on the historical tall ship, Kathleen and May, that resides here. Actors were seen stepping off the boat in a scene that re-enacts the arrival of the last king of Punjab in England. You too can board the last working three mast, wooden hull topsail schooner and recreate a scene fit for royalty; visit here for more information.
As the end credits start to roll, find your foodie scene at one of Liverpool’s best restaurants. There’s plenty to choose from at the Albert Dock; sleek and glamorous PANAM or Liverpool biggest rum venue, The Smuggler’s Cove. If you’re still geared up to explore more Liverpool streets, why not keep the theme of Liverpool as New York and head to NYL Restaurant and Bar in the former Royal Insurance Building; where the vibrancies of Liverpool and New York combine to create a melting pot of amazing food and exhilarating culture.
That’s a wrap!
Hey, if the walking doesn’t take your fancy but you’re still keen on getting your fresh air fix, take the route via a city bike. It’s a 24 hour on-street bike hire service that costs only £1 per hour, and they’re available from a huge amount of automated station docks around the city centre and surrounding area. For more info, visit here.