A secret escape during Liverpool liberty call

Edited by Martha Jette

Story by Jim Harris

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In the fall of 1977 the USS Never Sail (aka the USS Holland AS-32) got underway to take care of navy business, as well as make a seven-day liberty call (free time) at Liverpool, England.

The Liverpool soccer team was playing Argentina in Greece for the FIFA World Cup on the day of our arrival. Our XO (executive officer) had ordered the canvas shop to make two banners that had ‘Liverpool For The Cup’ on them in four or six-foot tall red letters.  These banners were hung from the rails on the main deck as we came into port.

As we were mooring, the word came through that Liverpool had won. We were the first American naval ship to visit this port in over 25 years and those banners won us a lot of new friends.

As we were leaving the brow, we were greeted by two young ladies wearing traditional German dresses handing out chits for a free beer at a local German themed bar.  What sailor is going to turn down a free beer, right?

When we walked in the door, we saw a sea of white hats and white uniforms.  I looked at my buddy and said, “I party with these guys back home.  This is not what I have planned for this liberty.”

He agreed so we about faced and left.  We did not even bother with the free beer.  We were just wandering around looking for a pub that was not full of sailors.

Apparently we landed on the radar of the local bobby (British policeman).  He walked up to us and asked what it was we were looking for, so we told him a nice pub full of locals, not sailors, with good food and cold drinks. He laughed and escorted us to a place called Kirkland’s Wine Cellar.

Photo Credit: Streets of Liverpool.co.uk Click image to go to web page

Photo Credit: Streets of Liverpool.co.uk
Click image to go to web page

I don’t know if the owner was just happy to have a couple of sailors in his establishment or because of the bobby showing us the place, but we were treated like royalty.  We spent the first five days without seeing another sailor in there.

Finally, a couple of guys that knew us knew something was up so they followed us. However, they did not receive the same royal treatment.  Even so, they enjoyed themselves and kept the place secret from our shipmates until after we left.

According to “The Streets of Liverpool:”

 Kirkland’s Wine Cellar was a bit of a revolution in drinking with its large windows opening onto the street, which had tables and chairs on the pavement during the day. Café society had arrived. Kirkland’s had created a game-changer in Liverpool’s drinking culture. Kirkland’s still remains a fine drinking establishment although renamed “The Fly in the Loaf,” with possibly the best range of real ales in the area.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Click to visit  "The Fly in the Loaf"

Click to visit
“The Fly in the Loaf”

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