A lost Liverpool venue that was once loved for being the "wackiest fun pub" in the 1980s is still remembered as "the best" by former customers.

The ECHO recently took a look back at Bonkers fun pub, which first opened in Liverpool in the summer of 1985. Previously known as the Regent Hotel, the venue on Regent Road, the Dock Road, had been derelict before it was converted into what rapidly became known "as the city’s wackiest and friendliest fun pub."

The popularity and success of Bonkers saw other venues open in Wallasey, as well as further afield in Macclesfield. On August 10, 1985, the ECHO reported how "down in Liverpool's dilapidated Dock Road" a "phoenix had risen from the ashes" in the form of a pub.

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When it originally opened, customers would step into the almost luminous blue building to see the pink plush décor. Selling everything from beers and lagers to cocktails, in the day time, you could also enjoy a pint with a meal, with the likes of meat pies and lasagnes being on offer.

Many ECHO readers have since shared their fond memories of Bonkers in the city. On our Facebook page, Nina Finlay said: "My Dad was actually one of the first owners of Bonkers. I remember going there on Sundays as a kid. Was a great place."

Mike Owen of Woolton has just won the Liverpool Poser 1985 title at the latest place to be seen, Bonkers Club on Dock Road, Liverpool. August 8, 1985.
Mike Owen, from Woolton, who won the Liverpool Poser 1985 title at Bonkers on Dock Road, Liverpool. August 8, 1985

Nigel Brown said: "Best times, great staff." Billy Butler posted: "Bonkers on the Dock Road, Liverpool - great venue."

Mike Jones commented: "Still the best pub I've been to, anywhere in the world." Glyn Ely commented: "Fantastic pub. Loved it."

Pamela Williams wrote: "Omg what a fab place, used to have the most amazing times there xx." Rob Fox posted: "Remember going when I was about 17. The bouncer said we couldn’t come in because we had trainees on so we took them off. He just shook his head, laughed, and said the floor might have glass on so put them back on when we went inside. Mad place and brilliant at that age."

Christine Blackwell wrote: "Bonkers was a fabulous fun pub." Sara Byrne commented: "Loved it!"

Helen Mccarthy commented: "Loved bonkers x." Pat Jones wrote: "Went there a few times in the eighties, was totally bonkers."

Zena Lou said: "You couldn't see a thing when you went in with the smoke machine. I loved it in there it was tiny too, so many good nights." Vicki Lambeth said: "Bonkers! Wow loved this place!."

Si S Lythgoe posted: "Worked there in the 80s and did a few floor shows from the Rocky Horror in Bonkers 2 Tenerife." Joe Mclelland posted: "Had some good crazy nights in there."

Gordon Laird posted: "Loved it had some great times there." Susan Percy commented: "Great place!."

Ann Larkey said: "Had many fabulous nights here." Nicola Peterson said: "Had lots of great nights there." And Paul Baxter said: "Sunday afternoon with Pete Price was always funny and you didn't get out of your seat for fear of being picked on."

One image, rediscovered from our archives, Mirrorpix, offers a glimpse inside Bonkers around the time it opened. Taken on August 8, 1985, the photo features Mike Owen, from Woolton, who won the Liverpool Poser 1985 title at the "latest place to be seen," Bonkers Club on Dock Road.

Apart from the title, he received a trophy, £20 cash and a bottle of bubbly. The idea from the competition came from DJ Alan Bates

Do you remember Bonkers Club? Let us know in the comments section below.

The following year, another Bonkers venue opened on Dock Road in Birkenhead. In September 1986, Birkenhead News reported how the site offered a range of home cooked food from a Sunday carvery to salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza and an early doors happy hour with doubles priced for £1.

By 1987, the Liverpool Bonkers became more "disco orientated." At the time, employee Joe Curran said: "The operation has expanded considerably.

"There’s even a Bonkers in Macclesfield, but Liverpool remains the nucleus of things.

Outside Bonkers fun pub on Regent Road, the Dock Road, Liverpool. Featured in BNA. October 15, 1987
Outside Bonkers fun pub on Regent Road, the Dock Road, Liverpool. October 15, 1987

"After all, we provided the launching pad for the current UK DJ of the year, John Cecchini and between them, the Liverpool and Wallasey bases have created more than 100 jobs. That's something to be pleased about nowadays."

Many will remember visiting a Bonkers venue through the years, from heading there for drinks straight after work to spending a weekend dancing and enjoying the entertainment with friends. Coming to Liverpool at a time when fun pubs were coming into fashion, Bonkers was said to have been among the first of its kind to open in the city.

On October 15, 1987, the ECHO reported how the "pioneering fun pub" was up for sale. According to Stuart Granger and Partners, the firm handling the sale, the business was still trading well.

But, the venue appeared to still be operating into the 1990s. In 1991, an ECHO advertisement from Bonkers said: "Open Friday and Saturday with dance music only and a brand new mind blowing sound system.

Outside the former Bonkers fun pub site on Regent Road, the Dock Road, Liverpool. The venue first opened in the 80s. Image captured in 2022
Outside the former Bonkers fun pub site on Regent Road, the Dock Road, Liverpool. Image captured in 2022

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Bonkers Liverpool has now been closed for some time, but it still lives on in the memories of a generation who went there. As for the Birkenhead site, in July this year, the ECHO reported how the former Wirral Bonkers venue could become a "go-to destination for locals" if plans go ahead.

The former Royal Swan Hotel, later known as the Blazing Stump and nightclub Bonkers, first opened in 1878 and construction company AP Mitchell and Evoke Architecture have submitted plans to Wirral Council to completely turn the site around. The plans include outdoor seating areas with benches, an outdoor event space, food and drinks vendors, and a large bar, as well as a private function space which will sit inside the new building, called the Dock Road Food Hall.

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