One Way to do Liverpool

In July of this year we arrived in Liverpool on board Queen Mary 2 as part of Cunard’s 175th Anniversary Celebrations…

This edition of ‘One way to do…’ features a tour that we had arranged prior to arrival and one that would start immediately after the service of celebration in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral…

 

Welcome to Liverpool…

We took what the ‘FAB FOURTAXITOUR‘  call their ‘Lennon’ tour  –  a  3 hour fully commentated, with musical interludes – taxi tour of  venues and  places in Liverpool  that either featured in the lives of the Beatles or, alternatively,  featured in their songs. Meet our driver for the tour, Phil Jordan...

 

Our first stop was the site of the Old Registry Office at Mount Pleasant where, on 23 August 1962,  John Lennon  married Cynthia Powell…

 

Next up was the Former Liverpool Maternity Hospital…

 

John was born in here on 9 October 1940,  and we dutifully inspected the plaque commemorating the event…

Our guide was of course continually relating stories of the Beatles era  while between visits we were treated to whatever appropriate Beatles song there was to the specific site or event.

We were well briefed on the flat, owned by Brian Epstein, where he spirited John and Cynthia after their wedding…

When John hastily married Cynthia on the 23rd August 1962, Brian Epstein allowed them to use this ground floor flat at 36 Faulkner Street, free of charge, as a wedding present. It was also hinted that Brian didn’t want the message of John’s marriage getting too much publicity amongst the adoring younger female followers.

Another story regarding the significance of the flat is that when John Lennon recorded his song ‘Do you want to know a secret’  in 1962, he was cryptically addressing his manager Brian Epstein. The Beatles’ manager had secretly kept a flat at number 36 Falkner Street in the heart of Liverpool’s red light district. It was there that Epstein would bring the “rough trade” that was his sexual preference.  Homosexuality was, of course, illegal in Britain at that time and Epstein would have been committing professional and social suicide had he revealed his sexuality to the wider world.

Just a short distance and we were at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts…

Previously known as the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, this had been the old school attended by Paul McCartney. McCartney had heard around 1985  that the building was becoming increasingly derelict after the school’s closure, and wished to find a productive use for it. Together with Mark Featherstone-Witty they have turned the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA)  into one of the United Kingdom’s leading institutions for performing arts.

LIPA is in Mount Street and, though not connected with the Beatles,  at the top end of Mount Street with the junction of Hope Street is  this interesting sculpture – “A Case History” by John King, 1998…

Various items of luggage, cast in concrete, are stacked on the pavement – the labels on the suitcases refer to notable individuals and institutions linked with the local area.

Our next stop was Madryn Street

 

Now looking very sorry for itself, 9 Madryn Street was the former home address of the Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr…

The street is one of several known as the Welsh Streets, which were built in the late 19th Century when there was an influx of Welsh people who came to Liverpool to work as dockers. It was due to be demolished by Liverpool City Council in 2012 as part of regeneration plans in run down parts of the city.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said “a tide of community support” had saved the property, which he described as a “beacon of Beatlemania”. Fifteen other homes were spared.

Ringo’s childhood home remains boarded up and covered in graffiti left by Beatles fans from across the world.

And so on to Penny Lane. Firstly my thanks to David Liddypool for the following photograph. His amazing Beatles website   (http://www.liddypool.com/index.html) helped me in my research, and  his excellent aerial photograph captures the  area featured in the lyrics of the famous song…..

 

The building in the center is the “Shelter in the middle of the roundabout.” Remember it?…

On the right side of the building in the foreground of the picture is where Beth (the pretty nurse) would sell her poppies from a tray. She wanted to be actress,  hence the “Feels like she’s in a play” reference.

On the left side the black and red cars are parked in front of what used to be the bank the song references:
On the corner is a banker with a motorcar,
And little children laugh at him behind his back.
And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain, very strange. Got it?….

For anyone to have a car back in the days those lines were written was rare and the banker being one of the rich men in town had one. He parked it right out side the bank’s front door, thus when it rained he could walk right in and never have to wear a mac or a raincoat in the pouring rain.

Further up to the left in the picture around the white truck is located the barbers shop. While the barbers shop has changed hands over the years  it is still  there and they have Beatle pictures in the window. (Thanks to David Bedford of Beatle Tours, Liverpool)

 

 

Almost certainly the most important meeting in popular music history” is how the first coming together of John Lennon and Paul McCartney was recently described.

That meeting took place at St Peter’s Church Hall on the evening of Saturday, 6th July 1957…

…whilst waiting to play at the church dance that night, John Lennon and the other members of the Quarrymen Skiffle Group were introduced to the young Paul McCartney by a mutual friend.

And yes, that’s us under the plaque…

The historic meeting was only brief but in just twenty minutes Paul demonstrated his musical ability, playing rock and roll classics and even showing the impressed Quarrymen how to tune their instruments. Two weeks later Paul accepted the group’s invitation to join them. Of the meeting John later famously commented, “that was the day, the day I met Paul,  that it started moving”.

A mere stone’s throw from the Church Hall is of course St Peter’s parish Church…

 

Equally  well known is the grave of Eleanor Rigby, featured in the 1966 Beatles’ song, and found in the churchyard…

Also in the churchyard, and often overlooked by the numerous visiting Beatles fans, is the grave of John’s uncle, George Toogood Smith. After the breakdown of his parents’ marriage when he was five, John lived locally with Uncle George and Aunt Mimi. It was George who bought John his first musical instrument, a harmonica.

Next up was the former home of Paul McCartney, 20 Forthlin Road

Now a National Trust property, the notice reads…

 

And so on to a former home of John Lennon at 251 Menlove Avenue

…which belonged to his aunt Mimi, and another notice to read…

Did you notice?  Unlike Lennon’s childhood house, 20 Forthlin Road, McCartney’s does not have a blue plaque and is currently ineligible to receive one. English heritage issue a plaque once the figure has “been dead for 20 years, or has  passed the centenary of their birth.

Well I never knew that. I was also surprised that while still outside Lennon’s house a whole coach load of tourists arrived…

 

Backing on to the rear gardens of Menlove Avenue properties was a Salvation Army children’s home, Strawberry Fields. John Lennon and his childhood friends used to play in the wooded garden behind the home and Lennon’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ was inspired by his memories of playing in that garden.

Sadly access is currently not available to Strawberry Field though the graffiti strewn gate and gateposts remain…

 

Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” and McCartney’s ‘Penny Lane‘ …

…shared the theme of nostalgia that these two musicians had for their early years in Liverpool and while  both referred to actual locations, the two songs also had strong surrealistic and psychedelic overtones.

Our final call was to a Liverpool pub of great character. I still can’t understand how Peter Kavanagh’s pub slipped into a Beatles taxi tour but what the heck, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world…

It has to be the most intriguing pub in Liverpool. Aesthetically, you’ll never visit another alehouse like it.

Oak panelled bar and mural adorned walls – allegedly commissioned in a settlement for an unpaid bar bill – have remained unaltered since 1929. Every nook and cranny throughout the pub has been decorated with a bizarre and fascinating array of curios; penny farthings are attached to walls, model ships hang above the bar, guitars dangle from the ceiling and a strange variety of ornaments are never outside of your eyeline…

*****

*****

So thank you FABFOURTAXITOUR.com and our driver Phil Jordan (great Scouse humour la) for an outstanding time which, if nothing else, it gave my girl one amazing journey down memory lane – yes, Barbara’s grandma lived just around the corner from Penny Lane. But in reality it was just a great way to spend half a day in Liverpool and well worth the £55.00 cab charge.

Of course there is so much more to see on a day’s cruise ship visit to Liverpool…

…but wasn’t that just something different?

If you have enjoyed this review from Liverpool and would like to be amongst the first to hear of new reviews including port reviews ( which will soon include a One Way to do Melbourne and an excursion to Salem from Boston: as well as a number of other Australian ports of call including Brisbane)  and forthcoming cruise reviews of  Oceania Riviera and the new Viking Ocean cruise ship, Viking Star, why not join the many other followers by clicking on the ‘Follow’ link on the front page.

 

5 responses to “One Way to do Liverpool

  1. Pingback: One Way to do Liverpool | Eby Online Business·

  2. Pingback: One Way to do Liverpool Part 2 | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

  3. Pingback: One Way to do Liverpool Part 2 | Continuity LifeStyle·

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