It began with a vision for New Brighton that has become a vivid reality. I happened to be in Yorkshire, visiting a friend. We called by to chat with his walking buddy, who asked me where I hailed from. Once, had I said New Brighton, it would have been met with a baffled silence, until I explained it was the opposite side of the Mersey with a view of the Liverpool Waterfront. This time, there was no hesitation. ‘Was there a few months ago’ he said, grinning broadly. ‘And I loved it. So much going on. Brilliant vibe.’
WORDS: Jean Hill
Danny Davies, Chief Executive of Rockpoint Leisure, and his dedicated team, have made the difference. The murals, in and around Victoria Road, that just keep on multiplying, are part of the unfolding transformation. Danny Davies, the entrepreneur who kick-started this renaissance in New Brighton, sparked a collective energy, resulting in something quite remarkable.
Danny Davies sees no limit to the possibilities for New Brighton. He is all about giving something back to the community where he grew up. Rockpoint Leisure has created an arty, cosmopolitan, meeting place and melting pot that is accessible to everyone, locals and visitors alike. There are plans for a pier, swimming pool and a tower, which is like re-visiting my childhood. We need rail or tram-way travel between Seacombe Ferry and Harrison Park and all will be perfection.
A cluster of elegantly decorated thriving businesses has emerged. The Olive Tree and Habibi offer fine dining. Rockpoint Records rocks with vintage and contemporary music, and boasts a coffee bar with tempting lunch offers. There is space for a barber and tattoo artists, with studio space for emerging artists. Music lovers can rifle through vintage vinyl and discover new influences. We enjoyed chatting to Ben who will be managing the record shop. He is knowledgeable and obviously has a great love of all things ‘music’ related with the possible exception of punk. He seems to have a fondness for obscure jazz influences. But then no-one is perfect.
The James Atherton (pub) opposite, faces Habibi restaurant. Both offer outdoor seating where you can admire the art work that enhances everywhere on Victoria Road and enjoy the eclectic mix of people who frequent Victoria Road these days.
Local history is celebrated on a grand scale. Peggy Gadfly (the great Gadsby) was a one‑legged performer who dived from New Brighton Pier to retrieve ‘pennies’. He is immortalised in a mural on the wall of the New Brighton Hotel (otherwise known as Peggy Gadfly’s). You can read Martin Luther King’s words (the writing on the wall) when you dine at Habibi. It is all there to contemplate and enjoy. My favourite charity shop – St John’s Hospice and my favourite greengrocers sit side by side, old favourites amongst other new attractions.
The cuisine is inspired by the Middle East, the Ottoman and North Africa; with rather fine kebabs grilled over charcoal, and meze platters which are made to be shared. We tried and loved: hummus (zingy and home-made) with springy, crusty bread. My own favourite was probably the haloumi on ‘toast’. Haloumi is semi-hard, un-ripened cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk. It is easily cooked, and contains rich subtly spicy flavour. The steak strips were medium rare, tender and succulent. The crunchy cauliflower, that had a topping that tasted of herbs and possibly breadcrumbs was highly flavoured and I appreciated the satisfying crunch. We sat outside in the sun, and enjoyed the moment. Plan on doing the same in the near future.
Traditional cocktails are delicately scented with rose, tangerine and pomegranate. One of my companions was intrigued by limited-edition canned beers. Premium draught lines, as well as specially selected wines and fizz are all there for the asking.
We enjoyed the ‘eat out to help out’ deals, but to be fair, the prices are pretty reasonable, and the food is seriously good.
The Rockpoint Community Project
Meeting Shelbie Rolfe was such an inspiring experience. She is at the forefront of establishing a community hub within this community for young people. The aims are to provide a point of contact in a crisis and practical support for those predominantly young males who may find themselves at a loss to find a meaningful future for themselves. There is a connection with a training company that Danny Davies previously owned, so that young people could train in hospitality or care. There are plans for workshops where young people could acquire techy skills. To be able to learn how to design computer games and learn to create animation would be a dream come true for so many, without the financial means, just starting out in life. Shelbie is probably exactly the person to make all this a reality because she is essentially all about the caring with definite purpose.
Tel: 0151 6390115