A lost Liverpool business remembered for its distinct smell of coffee was a popular place Liverpool children visited with their parents and grandparents for years.

The Liverpool ECHO recently took a look back at Coopers on Church Street, which closed its doors over 50 years ago. A familiar fixture in the city centre for decades, Cooper & Co was first founded in 1871 and became one of Scotland’s leading grocery shop chains.

Glasgow Live previously reported how their flagship store was in Glasgow and it was known for its grand architecture and ornate displays. Years later, the business expanded and a branch opened in Liverpool, welcoming generations of customers.

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Priding themselves on an extensive range of food and drinks, Coopers is perhaps best remembered for specialising in tea and coffee. Many customers will also remember the distinct smell of Coopers wafting through the air near the city-centre venue.

ECHO readers have since been sharing their fond memories of Coopers, from what it sold to the tubes that would move money around overhead. On our Facebook page, Lorna Boden said: “When I was little I used to go into Coopers with my mum. I never liked it in there because of the smell. BUT I would love it now.”

People mill on Church street, Liverpool city centre. November 28, 1959
People on Church street, Liverpool city centre. November 28, 1959
(Image: Trinity Mirror Copyright)

Maylee Wong wrote: “I used to love the ham salad in there.” Monica Barraclough wrote: “Coopers was a wonderful store, my grandfather was the buyer and worked there for many years. Loved the aroma of the coffee.”

Marietherese Howard posted: “My dad was often in there for his cheese , remember still the coffee aroma and little treats dad brought home after working in The City , one of his favourite places to visit in between seeing clients about insurance.” Carolyn Baker said: “It was like a huge deli – wonderful experience visiting Coopers.”

Carol Harrison posted: “My Nan, May Connolly, worked in the café. We used to visit her and she would treat us to a cake and drink loved the smell of coffee when you walked in happy memories x.” Patricia Fast posted: “I loved the coffee smell inside, and even outside!”

Susan Hesketh said: “Oh remember it well. I used to go in there with my mum, and nan. Smell was amazing.” Brian Freeman said: “My dad’s favourite. He’d take me there when I was about 10, circa 1953. I can still remember the aroma of the coffee and the Brown Windsor soup. Sad that such a fine place has gone.”

Barbara Bradbury said: “I would go into the shop with my mum to buy coffee for my dad. The smell of coffee was iconic, such a lovely place.” Moira Arnison wrote: “I loved the same as you walked in, fresh ground coffee, the butter mountain and the entrance with Coopers spelt out in tiles. I was under 7 so along time ago, we then loved away. Come back Coopers.”

Shirley Knott commented: “Went there for afternoon tea. Beautiful shop.” Abigail Smith wrote: “That store brings back wonderful memories.”

Alex Fenelon said: “My mum bought the coffee beans and we used to grind them at home, the bread was also delicious. I loved going in with my mum it was always so busy.” Diane Riley said: “I loved that shop when I was little, the coffee aroma was unbelievable and walking around it was amazing. Feeling very nostalgic.”

Barbara Graham wrote: “I had my 21st party there on the first floor! Loved the smell of roasted coffee beans.” Bill Griffiths posted: “The greatest shop of my childhood. Not to buy just to smell and watch.”

Andrea Bannon said: “My mum worked on the coffee counter of Coopers. My mum would always talk with fondness about the lovely customers she would serve and the amazing aroma off the coffee.” Evelyn Rothwell said: “Going into town with my mum and going past Coopers, the lovely smell coffee was everywhere.”

Dot Phillips said: “Would buy a sponge cake from there and they would spread fresh cream in it for you . Delicious.” Mark Rollins commented: “Loved the deli in there. Every Saturday my mum would buy hors d’oeuvres – a mix of chopped up roll mop herring, onion and pepper. Loved it.”

Susan Wilkinson commented: “My mum would buy a bag of biscuits to take home and a bag of broken biscuits to eat on the bus home.” Jean Caldwell commented: “I also remember at Easter time they would have a load of lovely fluffy chicks in the window.”

Sue Formby commented: “Remember being taken there at Christmas time. It was a magical store. Also, my parents use to go to the dinner dancers upstairs in the Coopers’ building, as a teenager it was great!” Jane Letts said: “Yes the smell of coffee was gorgeous, at Easter the baby chicks in the window as well. My dad worked in Liverpool and discovered a Coopers’ Christmas catalogue from around 1936 it was amazing to see what they sold and how much things were.”

Steve Johnson said: “Was only talking about Coopers the other day to my daughter when she opened a new bag of coffee. It just reminded me of Coopers soon as you went in. I went in with my parents in the sixties.” Sandy Armitage commented: “Coopers was the best at that time the aromas of the different coffees just was gorgeous, my dad was the foreman of Coopers’ bakery which was on the top floor. So many happy memories going in there.”

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

Arline Rainford posted: “Loved the coffee smell and the assistants using wire to cut slices of cheese. When I was small my friend’s mum took us both to the café . I loved it – it was so posh and the waitresses looked so smart in white aprons and caps.” Shirley Clark wrote: “I used to go with my nan, I was about four it was silver service, tomato soup came with a spoon nearly as big as me. Happy days.”

Kathy Miller wrote: “The two things I remember are the smell of the coffee and when you paid, the money was sent up a tube/sucked up and then the change would come back down, I was fascinated by that as a child!.” John Gregson commented: “I loved the smell and the tubes moving the money round overhead.”

Ruby Rive said: “I remember going to the café there with my mum it was a lovely store.” And Christina Rodriguez said: “What a fantastic memory. That shop a had such an amazing smell as soon as you walked through the door and I remember watching as a child in amazement the money tubes flying around overhead.”

Coopers coffee & food shop, once a Liverpool favourite on the corner of Church Street and Church Lane, in February 1972
Coopers coffee & food shop, once a Liverpool favourite on the corner of Church Street and Church Lane. February 1972
(Image: Trinity Mirror Copyright)

In the 1970s, the ECHO reported how in the pre-war years at Coopers, “cream cheeses flown in daily from the Continent, waffles laced with maple syrup, cooked and served on the counter, and hors d’oeuvres made to individual specifications” were all made to a background of “singing canaries and the smell of freshly roasted and ground coffee.”

On February 29 that year, welfare and personnel officer, a Miss Florence Nightingale, told the ECHO: “In the years between the two wars, customers were really given the red carpet treatment.

“Shopping was carried out to the customers’ cars, page boys were stationed on all the doors to lend a hand with heavy parcels, and chairs were provided at all the counters. Assistants also gave their undivided attention to shoppers.

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“They had to – the people who came here were used to giving orders in their homes and wouldn’t stand any nonsense.” In the 1930s, deliveries of weekly shopping by special Coopers vans could be spotted across the city.

At one time, the store also sold hardware, glass and china – as well as having a special department for selling pets, and a “millionaires corner” full of exotic fruits brought from all parts of the world. Coopers was once home to a bakery and café too in the 1960s.

In 1967, a Liverpool ECHO advertisement shows Coopers selling coffee such as Blue Mountain, Gold Medal and Breakfast. Another ECHO advertisement from 1970 promoted new confectionary from ice sandwiches to Russian bars, Swiss rolls and farmhouse cake.

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Customers at the time could also have special savers such as Chivers jelly marmalade, Del Monte sliced potatoes and fresh strawberries and cream. But today, all that lives on of Coopers is its former home, archived photos and fond memories.

Back in February 1972, the ECHO reported how “an era of genteel shopping ends” for the famous Coopers store. The site, known for its groceries, closed that year after life in the city spanning 76 years.

Coopers was eventually swallowed up by the Fine-Fare chain. In recent years, the site on the corner of Church Street and Paradise Street has been home to a Select clothing store and now a Natwest branch.

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