Although locals will argue that there is much, much more to Liverpool than “just” the Beatles, this is not what first-timers want to hear; as much as we would like to indulge in the world-class museums and the emerging food scene, what we want to see, first and foremost, is where the Fab Four are from.
Even though I did have a hard time setting my ear to the thick Scouser accent I had a jolly good time on the Magical Mystery Tour day trip I did from London, which I highly recommend to all Beatles fans, both neophytes and proper obsessed.
* My apologies for the low-quality photos. These were taken well before I even considered being a blogger
The Fab Four Homes
The tour features several significant points in the Beatles life, including the birthplaces of Lennon, Harrison and McCartney. First pictured is Paul McCartney’s childhood home at 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool. It is labelled by the National Trust as “the birthplace of The Beatles”, since this is the place where The Beatles composed and rehearsed their earliest songs (including Please Please Me, I Call Your Name and She Loves You).
The second photo is where Lennon used to live as a child, more precisely at 251 Menlove Avenue in the Woolton area of Liverpool. The house belonged to Lennon’s Aunt Mimi and her husband George Smith, as his mother was convinced her sister would do a better job at raising Little John that she ever could. He was a resident of this household from 1945 until mid-1963, when he was 22 years old. It is rumoured that at least one song, I’ll Get You, was written here, which is higly ironic considering Aunt Mimi frequently told John that although he wasn’t half bad at guitar he best focus on something else as he would never make a living out of his ability. It wasn’t until Yoko Ono bought the house in 2002 and donated it to the National Trust that the property was properly looked after; it was then restored to its 1950s appearance, just like John would’ve known it. In 2012, both this house and Paul McCartney’s childhood home at 20 Forthlin Road were Grade II listed by English Heritage and have become open to the public.
Although I haven’t personally visited them, it’s good to know that George Harrison’s birthplace is at 12 Arnold Grove and Ringo Starr’s s at 10 Admiral Grove.
It was kind of surreal to be there — who could have known that these regular boys from Liverpool would become the world’s most iconic band?
My favorite stop, though, was definitely the famous Penny Lane. According to the tour guide, the city of Liverpool has to replace the street sign several times a year, either because of theft, vandalism or other profanities.
‘Penny Lane’ was kind of nostalgic, but it was really a place that John and I knew; it was actually a bus terminus. I’d get a bus to his house and I’d have to change at Penny Lane, or the same with him to me, so we often hung out at that terminus, like a roundabout. It was a place that we both knew, and so we both knew the things that turned up in the story.
– Paul McCartney, discussing “Penny Lane” in a 2009 interview with Clash magazine
The next stop on the Magical Mystery Tour is Strawberry Field, well-known for being Lennon’s playground in his younger days and the inspiration behind the famous Strawberry Fields Forever. This is also where he was first introduced to music, as a Salvation Army band played at the garden party held each summer. Lennon’s aunt Mimi Smith, whom we was living with at the time, recalled: “As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army band starting, John would jump up and down shouting, ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late.‘”
Lennon considered it his finest work, and it would go on to become one of the defining works of the psychedelic rock.
The Cavern Club is a nightclub at 10 Mathew Street in Liverpool best known for being the place that brought The Beatles to fame; rumour has it they played over 300 gigs at the Cavern Club between 1961 and 1963. This is also where the original Fab Four (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Pete Best) were first seen by Brian Epstein at the club, who would later on become their manager, replace Best by Starr, and secure the boys a record contract. Their final appearance at the Cavern Club was on 3 August 1963—one month after the group recorded She Loves You, right before their first trip to the United States, which, as we know, would forever alter their destiny.
“I was immediately struck by their music, their beat, and their sense of humour on stage—and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started.”
– Brian Epstein, talking about the performance
The Beatles Story
Welcome to the world’s largest permanent exhibition purely devoted to the lives and times of The Beatles, allowing visitors to relive the era of Beatlemania! Exhibits encompass uncalculable memorabilia and facts, including John Lennon’s round spectacles, George Harrison’s first guitar, a blue White Album signed by Paul McCartney, previously unseen photographs documenting the 1963-4 tour, immersive recreations of key locations from the band’s career and the Fab4D Experience.
Beatles in Liverpool: tips to plan your visit
- It is possible to visit Liverpool as a day trip from London. There are regular trains out of London Euston and journeys last just under two hours.
- If you’d rather stay in London, there is a highly informative Beatles walking tour, too.
- Alternatively, it is possible to book the Magical Mystery Tour independently.