THERE is no mistaking the atmosphere of brother and sister Helen and Martin Ainscough’s properties: they simply reek of class.
The Italianate-style Racquet Club Hotel & Ziba Restaurant, in Chapel Street, was built by the leading American merchant, William Brown (who gave his name to the city’s museum street) in 1859 by Sir James Picton, for his son-in-law, a Mr Hargreaves, who was in the South American trade.
Between 1983 and 2001, the building was one of the city’s foremost gentlemen’s clubs, after its original building, in Upper Parliament Street, was destroyed in the Toxteth Riots in 1981.
The 10 venues currently in their portfolio range from the Station Hotel, at Hamilton Place, Birkenhead, to Miller Howe Restaurant and Hotel, a de luxe Lake District country house, established by the great foodie John Tovey.
Other pub properties include the canal side Ring O’Bells, at Lathom, Ormskirk, and The Wizard, Nether Alderley.
They use meat from the four pedigree beef herds on their father’s 1,600-acre organic farm, at Bispham Green, Parbold.
Next door is their Eagle & Child pub and neighbouring Home Farm Shop. Vegetables are locally sourced from across the Lancashire plain, the centre of the UK’s salad and vegetable industry.