The Coffee House is probably the oldest pub in Wavertree, having been listed in the Ale House Recognizances as early as 1777. A key meeting place, it was the scene in 1883 of an inquest following a local tragedy when a man committed suicide on Dunbabin Road.
The pub was a popular day out from Liverpool in its early years, offering views across open fields and it was almost certainly what was referred to as ‘a good inn and tavern’ in Moss’s Guide to Liverpool in 1796. It became the terminus for a horse drawn tram service from Liverpool and its meeting rooms were the venue for the venue for the first Wavertree Local Board of Health in 1851. Towards the end of the 19th Century Robert Cain & Sons took it over and the interior was redesigned by Walter Thomas, whose other credits include the Philharmonic and Vines.
Its meeting rooms meant it was sometimes used for inquests and in 1883 the background to a tragedy involving a local gentleman was played out there. It followed the discovery in Dunbabin Road of the body of 22 year old Frederick Braun, the son of a local commission merchant, at 4pm on Saturday 22nd September that year He was found in a pool of blood by coachman Isaac Kilshaw of Lodge Lane and next to the body was a revolver which contained six chambers, one of which had been discharged. The bullet appeared to have gone through the mouth and shattered the base of the skull. Nearby his horse was being taken under control by Alfred Heaps of Abercromby Square who had been out riding and spotted it in an alarmed state.
The police were called and the body was removed to the Coffee House, where the inquest was held the following Monday. Frederick’s brother Arthur said that he had been in bad health for some time which had seriously effected his spirits and caused the cancellation of a trip to New York. He spent a lot of time on his horse, going for rides from the family’s home at Holly Lodge in West Derby. As such his going out on that Saturday was not unusual although his groom recalled that he was in even lower spirits than he had become accustomed to.
Inspector Keithley, who had arranged removal and identification of the body, detailed the contents of an envelope that had been found in one of the pockets and had ‘my dear friend Dr Gee’ written on it. A watch and chain were inside as well as a slip of paper which read ‘God alone knows what I have suffered and I hope for yours and his forgiveness. Receive the last blessings from a penitent sinner.’ Dr Gee told how he had seen Frederick that morning and he had been in low spirits, but there was no indication that he was suicidal. Frederick ‘s depression had been caused by constant headaches, with the family solicitor saying he was not aware of any domestic matters that could have led to his feelings. The evidence led to the jury returning a verdict of suicide through temporary mental derangement.