The seaport city of Liverpool is the hometown of John, Paul, Ringo, and George – also known as The Beatles. This is where the four British boys who took the world by storm grew up, met each other, formed their band, played for the first time, and began making their music dreams come alive. Liverpool is where the Beatles Pilgrimage takes place from the homes where they lived, the gates of Strawberry Fields, a ride through Penny Lane, and many other notable sites.
I enjoyed the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool so much, that I did it twice. The second time around I was with my daughter, who is also a Beatles fan, while we were on a month long trip throughout the UK and Europe. The experience of seeing how happy she was to stand at the gates of Strawberry Fields, and ride through Penny Lane was priceless. A mother and daughter Beatles pilgrimage, at its finest.
You can drive to location to location or take the Two hour Magical Mystery Tour Bus, which was fun and convenient. I had taken the tour twice, once during the winter and another during the summertime. Although I had a good time during both visits, I definitely preferred the warmer summer day in Liverpool.
The Gates of Strawberry Fields
Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to strawberry fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever
The gates of Strawberry Fields has been an iconic site in Liverpool due to the immortalized song by John Lennon, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. The grounds were home to the former Salvation Army Children’s Home, and where John Lennon used to play when he was young.
St. Peter’s Parish Church and Cemetery
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
Yes, there indeed was an Eleanor Rigby, and her gravesite is at the cemetery of St. Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool. Although Paul McCartney had mentioned previously that the name came to him, and he liked the way it fit the song, the actual grave of Eleanor Rigby was discovered in the 1980’s. Paul later said that it must have been in his subconscious from his youth, since he and John used to take shortcuts through the church grounds.
St. Peter’s Church Hall – At the same St. Peter’s Church where Eleanor Rigby’s grave is located, you will find the church hall where John Lennon and Paul McCartney had first met. Paul was playing one his favorite tunes, ‘ Twenty Flight Rock’, while John and his initial band, The Quarrymen, were waiting to go on stage at the church hall.
“That day was the day that I met Paul. The day it all started moving.”- John Lennon
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
Wet beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back
I admit this was my favorite part of the tour- Penny Lane. I have always loved the magic of this song, and it was more magical when listening to the song play in the bus- singing the lyrics with the song, and rolling down the actual Penny Lane. I can still feel that happiness when the lyrics of the barber shop were playing, and at the same time we passed by the old barber shop. It was timed perfectly!
As part of any Beatles Pilgrimage, a stop to the boyhood homes of Paul, John, George, and Ringo are significant to catch a glimpse of how they all grew up in Liverpool. Both John and Paul were of middle class upbringings, while Ringo and George grew up in smaller and poorer dwellings.
Paul McCartney’s Home – 20 Forthlin Road
This is the home of Paul McCartney that he lived in for several years from secondary school, until his rise to fame. Since 1995, the house has been under the National Trust as “The birthplace of the Beatles”. There are great stories of John and Paul writing, and rehearsing several of their earlier song hits inside these walls.
John Lennon’s Home – 251 Menlove Avenue
The gray home to the left with a blue English Heritage plaque was the boyhood home of John Lennon, from 1945-1963. John lived here with his Aunt Mimi since childhood, while his mother lived with her boyfriend in another home. It was agreed early on that John would have a better upbringing with his Aunt Mimi and her husband George, than living with his mother.
George Harrison’s House – 12 Arnold Grove
The little red painted house with two rooms down and two rooms up, was the birthplace and childhood home of George Harrison. He lived in this ten shilling a week home until he was six years old, with his three older siblings. This tiny four room had an outside toilet, and a coal stove for heat. His family moved after 20 years of living in this home, to a new council house at 25 Upton Green.
Ringo Starr’s Home – 10 Admiral Grove
Down the road from The Empress Pub on Admiral Grove, was the home of Ringo Starr for 20 years before he rose to fame. The small two-up, two-down home was where he learned to play drums, and where he also celebrated his 21st birthday.
The Empress Pub – Ringo Starr had a strong connection to The Empress pub during his childhood. He had lived down the side street on Admiral Grove for 20 years, and his mother worked here as a barmaid. The pub was featured on the cover of Ringo Starr’s first solo album, Sentimental Journey, in 1970.
The Cavern Club
The Magical Mystery Tour ends at The Cavern Club, which was very fitting. The club is below street level, and there are several flights of stairs that go down into a cellar room. The cavern like music venue is dark, and and an amazing place to be.
This is where the Beatles grew in popularity while in Liverpool. It was here that Brian Epstein who eventually became their manager, and secured a record contract deal for them, first The Beatles play. Although. the members at the time were John, Paul, George, and Pete Best on drums, who was eventually replaced by Ringo Star on August 16, 1962.
No matter how you do your Beatles Pilgrimage to Liverpool or who you go with, I suggest ending it with a visit to The Cavern Club. As this music venue was the beginning of their end time in Liverpool, and the start of Beatlemania. Have a drink from the bar, I know we definitely did, and I still wear my Cavern Club T-shirt that I purchased on my first go around in Liverpool.
All these places had their moments. With lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all…– The Beatles
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