A RARE floor uncovered in a Wirral hotel could solve a century-old mystery of missing tiles from St George's Hall.
The mystery of what happened to the extra Minton tiles used to lay the floor of the great hall had baffled local historians.
They now believe some of them could have been used to create the floor at the Hollins Hey Hotel in New Brighton. Workmen uncovered the floor, worth £30,000, during a refurbishment at the hotel last week, and a specialised tiler has now been brought out of retirement to restore it.
Liverpool historian Steve Binns said: "Around 20 people came to Liverpool from the Midlands to lay the floor at St George's Hall in the 1850s. It was originally supposed to be a marble floor but that proved too expensive so they decided on Minton tiles.
"Quite a few of these historic tiles were left over.
"We were not sure what happened to them and it is possible some of them were used in this hotel and also in private houses throughout the Wirral."
Former Lord Mayor Frank Doran said it was an exciting find and that people in Wirral could be sitting on a gold mine.
He said: "It does seem likely that these tiles were the same ones used in St George's Hall - a little piece of Liverpool in Wirral.
"We knew there were lots left over when the hall floor was completed but we didn't know where they went.
"When I heard about the hotel floor, I remembered people talking about these missing tiles.
"It is likely there are more of them used in floors in private houses in the borough.
"People could be sitting on something of great value.
"They are very rare tiles and important to preserve." Minton floors were at their height of popularity in the 1840s.
Thomas Minton was famed for the porcelain and pot produced at his factory in Stoke-on-Trent.
He popularised the Willow Pattern and was Spode's biggest rival.
But it was only once his son, Herbert, took over the business that it diversified into making tiles.
The firm led the way in using the latest industrial techniques to produce printed and painted tiles, with many designed by artists such as William Wise and John Moyr.
Hollins Hey hotel owner Ian Carruthers now wants to restore the foyer floor to its former glory and has begun painstaking work to remove the carpet glue from each of the 1,000 tiles.
He said: "It is a real find. "I've done quite a lot of research into Minton flooring since the discovery and it really was the Gucci of the tile world."