Frequently asked questions

Galkoff's and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place

What is the ‘Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place’ project?

Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place is a project being run by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It aims to explore the history of Pembroke Place, and investigate two heritage sites: the Galkoff’s butcher shop, and the court housing. This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, who have provided a grant to enable Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine  to work in partnership with the Museum of Liverpool.

Where is Pembroke Place?

Pembroke Place is a road on the east side of Liverpool city centre, leading out of the city, as a continuation of London Road. It is a major thoroughfare and home to Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the Brownlow Group Practice (in the old Liverpool Royal Infirmary Building), and the Dental Hospital.

Why is it called Pembroke Place?

We’re not sure! The street was called other names including ‘Road to Prescot’ and ‘Road to Wavertree’ on early maps, before being named Pembroke Place around 1810. It’s possible that this commemorated the military successes of George Augustus Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke, who was made General in 1812.

Why is the history of Pembroke Place interesting?

Researching the history of any urban street is bound to reveal weird and wonderful stories. The project focuses on Pembroke Place because of the heritage of the tiled frontage of Galkoff’s Kosher butcher shop, and because of the presence of the last surviving example of court housing. Both these heritage assets will be explored as part of the project. Research so far has also revealed far more about the history of the street, including roller-skating Victorians, grizzly murders and the site of a former zoo. We’ve traced the changing character of the street from a residential area, through a period of many small businesses, especially furniture, upholstery and tailoring. 

What is ‘court housing’?

Court housing is a form of high density, low quality housing which was prevalent in Liverpool in the 19th century.  Initially developed in the early 18th century to fill-in spaces behind street front houses, courtyards were established off streets, and entered through narrow passageways.  Small back-to-back houses were built around the courts, to accommodate the growing population of the town. It is estimated that by the mid 19th century around half of Liverpool’s working class population lived in court housing.

Who was P Galkoff?

Born in 1877, Polish-Jewish immigrant Percy (Perec) Galkoff (Gelkopf) came to England in 1905 after being discharged from the Russian Imperial Army. Arriving at an East Coast port, Percy headed to Birmingham before settling in the Brownlow Hill area of Liverpool. Research has traced the Galkoff family back to a village in Poland called Warta in 1813, with both Percy’s Father and Grandfather working as Kosher butchers. The Galkoff family – descendants of Percy Galkoff - are involved in the project, and have been fascinated to learn more  about their family’s links to Liverpool.

What is the current condition of the Galkoff’s building?

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has employed both a structural engineer and a conservation officer during the process to ensure that both practical and cultural considerations are fully explored. Galkoff’s has been classified as ‘dangerously unstable’. The tiled frontage of the shop has been damaged over time with many tiles already coming loose from the building and have been collected and carefully stored by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The frontage risks being lost completely if not removed and conserved.

What will happen to the tiles next?

The tiles will be removed by professional conservators, and cleaned and consolidated. Bringing the tiles indoors will ensure their long-term survival. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine will gift the tiles to the Museum of Liverpool for their preservation in public ownership in the collections of National Museums Liverpool. They will be mounted and displayed in the Museum of Liverpool from October 2018 for a minimum of five years. Recreating the façade in the Museum will allow many more people the opportunity to learn about this important part of Liverpool’s heritage.

Why can’t the tiles be preserved on the building?

The tiles are suffering from weathering after being outdoors for more than 80 years. Several have fallen off the building and have been collected and preserved by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The building has been classified as ‘dangerously unstable’. The structure is unsafe to enter. The  best way of preserving this heritage and making the tiles accessible to the public once more is to remove and conserve them  before displaying them in the more stable environment of the Museum of Liverpool.

Who owns the court housing on Pembroke Place now?

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has owned the former book shop, which is part of the court dwellings, since 2009. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has been able to make that building more structurally secure with remedial work. The other part of the court housing is a private business, John Monk Tailor. 

What will happen to these buildings next?

29-35 Pembroke Pace is now part of the expanding estate of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place project is the start of a process to understand the historical and cultural significance of the properties, and there are no current plans for redevelopment. The removal of the tiles from the Galkoff building will preserve that heritage asset for the long term in the collection of the Museum of Liverpool.

Brief history of Galkoff’s building

  • 1820s: Built at the centre of a row of five houses
  • 1829: Recorded in street directory as Charles Williams Richards Academy
  • 1840: Recorded in street directory as J Morris, cowkeeper and milkhouse
  • 1904: Recorded in street directory as Mark Hesselberg, furniture dealer
  • 1910: Recorded in street directory as JB Edgar, ironmonger
  • c1910: Galkoff Kosher butcher shop opens. Percy Galkoff first mentioned in the 1911 census
  • c1933: Tiles added to frontage in remodelling of building
  • 1963: Percy Galkoff retires and business passes to Issy Silver
  • 1978: Business closed and building sold to Liverpool City Council
  • 1990: Galkoff’s was sold to local historian and campaigner Rob Ainsworth. He was unable to get support to restore the building for retail and residential use.
  • 2012: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine buy Galkoff’s building
  • 2016-2018: Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place project takes place 

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Tiled shop front with decorative hoarding

Galkoff’s butcher’s shop today, behind protective hoarding. Image courtesy of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine