The Holborn Restaurant

From Hoole History and Heritage Society

The Holborn Restaurant[1]

'Welcome Home' Dinner at the Holborn Restaurant 31 December 1919

At the end of the First World War, Hoole Urban District Council decided to welcome home those who had taken part in it by hosting a celebratory dinner; only recently it has been discovered that this did not take place until 31st December 1919 and that it was held at the Holborn Restaurant in Chester when nearly 400 sat down to a dinner, which was followed by a smoking concert.

A restaurant which could seat that number of people would have been a significant undertaking - research has shown that it was located at 29 Foregate Street, with at that time a telephone number of Chester No.9. It had been established in 1884 by a John Kendrick. It was the place to eat in Chester, especially for race visitors and tourists, and it hosted many formal dinners and functions. For many years an orchestra played daily from 12.30 to 2.00 pm and from 3.30 to 6.00 pm An afternoon tea dance was a speciality in the 1920s for 2s. 6d. If you couldn't dance, a school of dancing was available giving, in 1927, a demonstration of 'The Charleston'.

1902 Advertisment for the Holborn Restaurant

Demonstrations of hairdressing and beauty culture were held for ladies while gentlemen could avail themselves of the smoke and billiard rooms. Advertisements show that the Holborn welcomed large excursions, choir and picnic parties - outings to Chester were among the favourite places to visit in the calendars of many organisations.

The premises were closed in 1938 to be replaced with the large branch of Marks & Spencer on the north side of Foregate Street opposite the current store; it now houses River Island and Wilko's. A little-known link with the First World War was that in October 1914, the Restaurant was used by Chester Civilian Association twice a week for military and physical drills "to ensure that men were fit and ready for any duty necessary for home defence". Thankfully it was not required.

1923 Advertisment for the Holborn Restaurant

After reading this article Simon Waddington, a member of the Society, forwarded an illustration of its interior from a 1923 Guide to Chester.

The restaurant does not look very welcoming, nor a sophisticated place to eat, but to seat 700 and having an orchestra playing daily must have had its attractions.

More information has been found about John Kendrick who in addition to The Holborn, set up the ‘Vienna Restaurant and Café’ in Northgate Row, referred to as Kendrick's in the advertisement. He started as a confectioner at a shop in Princess Street and is credited with introducing French patisserie to Chester. He was a keen early motorist but in 1913 while driving in North Wales collapsed while driving near Devil's Bridge, Aberystwyth. He was succeeded by his son, William John (Jack) Kendrick.

  1. Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, August 2020 (updated October 2020), Hoole History & Heritage Society