St John's Beacon was built and opened to the public over half a century ago - and we've said goodbye to a number of popular nightclubs, pubs and restaurants along the way.

Constructed back in 1965 before being officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1971, it was built to replace the historic St Johns Market building which had stood in Liverpool city centre for over 140 years. But over the generations, the shopping centre, which also houses the market, has seen much change.

From the 70s onwards, the site wasn't only a hub for shopping. The precinct became the place were many people had their first pint, experience of a nightclub or ate for a special occasion.

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From Moonstone to Top Rank, the Tower Restaurant and more, many are still fondly remembered by those who went there. Here, we take a brief look back at a number of lost business that once called the site home.

This list isn't intended to be comprehensive, we've included a number of lost clubs, pubs and restaurants from St John's Precinct through the years. But, if you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments section below.

The Moonstone

The Moonstone, St John's Precinct, 1974
The Moonstone in St John's Precinct, 1974

It's been years since we said goodbye to the Moonstone pub, also known as Milo's, in St John's Precinct. According to National Museums of Liverpool, the Moonstone saw several bands play there and catered for a more alternative crowd.

It also "gained a reputation within the hippie or 'trogg' (as it was called locally) subculture as a friendly venue." In January 1972, the ECHO reported how the Moonstone, Tetley's new space-age house, has "pop music, dancing and Kaleidoscope lighting."

The basement pub's design was based on an "octogen pod theme." Many will also remember the Pod Pad, which could accommodate large groups near the dancefloor.

The Sportsman

The Sportsman Bar in Liverpool. Ski lift impression from sitting in this suspended bucket-seat in the Alpine bar in the Sportsman. December 11, 1970
Ski lift impression in the Alpine bar in The Sportsman. December 11, 1970

The Sportsman was said the be the "first pub in St John's Precinct" and opened its doors on December 10, 1970. Owned by Greenall Whitley, it was first managed by a Mr James Shinner.

Many will remember the business boasted five bars - each depicting a different sport - including mountaineering, skiing, football or motor racing bar. As for the fifth bar, at the time of opening, it was designed as a discotheque and all around the site, former customers will remember the distinct murals to match each themed bar.

The "most striking" bar was said to have been the Grand prix bar, which had a Formula Two racing car, previously driven on British motor racing circuits, suspended from the ceiling. The largest bar on the premises was also the Grand National bar, which when The Sportsman.

Tower Restaurant

In its early days, the St John's Beacon (now the Radio City Tower) was home to a revolving restaurant, 1971
In its early days, the St John's Beacon (now the Radio City Tower) was home to a revolving restaurant, 1971

Before Radio City took over the top of St Johns Beacon in 2000, it was once home to the revolving Tower Restaurant. Situated nearly 400ft up in the air, construction of the landmark tower, whose main purpose was to be ventilation shaft for the shopping complex below, began in 1965 and took five years to complete.

The Tower Restaurant opened at the top of St Johns Beacon in 1971 and ran for more than 10-years. But in the following years, the tower lay empty and derelict.

It was considered by many to be an eyesore - but following refurbishment in the 1990s, Radio City moved in and began broadcasting from the renamed Radio City Tower in August 2000. The tower went on to be awarded Grade II listed status by Historic England in 2020.

St John's Inn

St Johns Inn in St Johns Market, Liverpool, Circa 1980
St Johns Inn in St Johns Market. Circa 1980

Billed as Liverpool's skyscraper restaurant, the Tower Restaurant boasted a revolving floor where diners could take in the magnificent panorama of the city - but it wasn't the only business on site ran by owners Empire catering. Many will also remember the days when St Johns Inn was on site.

On April 16, 1971, in a feature mainly about the Tower Restaurant, the Liverpool Daily Post reported: "The Tudor look of the St Johns Inn at ground level includes hammered beams, rough plater and has the appearance of an old coaching inn. Here they serve grills, hamburgers, salads and ice-cream specialities at down-to-earth prices."

The ECHO previously reported how to make sure the beacon could "meet every taste and pocket," St Johns Inn, at ground level, offered steaks and grills. The kitchen's for the more expensive part of the operation were said to be down at ground level, at the insistence of the fire brigade.

Top Rank and more

View of Top Rank Suite, St. John's Precinct. September 24, 1973
Top Rank Suite, St. John's Precinct, Liverpool. September 24, 1973

A generation spent many of their clubbing days at these lost nightclubs that were perched on top of multi-storey car park. Built on top of the multi-storey car park, Top Rank was a chain of nightclubs across the country owned by the Rank Organisation.

Often known as Top Rank Suites or Top Rank Ballrooms, the glitzy night spot and conference venue opened in time for Christmas in 1969. In its time, 10cc performed with Queen as their support act there and many people's claim to fame was seeing David Bowie perform at the venue too.

But the site's life as Top Rank was short lived, as it would later become known under a number of different names. Eventually, the club became part of the Baileys chain of clubs, as well as Romeo and Juliet's, Rotters and Studio 54.

Penny Farthing

The Liverpool Royal Court Theatre next to The New Penny Farthing pub in Liverpool City Centre
The Liverpool Royal Court Theatre, next to the new Penny Farthing pub in Liverpool city centre

The Penny Farthing pub, later renamed the New Penny Farthing, was placed in one of the most prominent positions in the city on the corner of St Johns Precinct, next to the Royal Court Theatre. It opened in the early 1970s and over the decades attracted thousands of customers through its doors.

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The Royal Court Theatre took over the pub in 2015 before the new owners completely renovated the building top-to-bottom. With the new addition of an outdoor drinking area, The Courtyard Bar and Kitchen opened in place of the Penny Farthing in 2017, turning the old building into an attractive bar and restaurant.

Do these awaken any memories for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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