Do you want to know more about John Lennon’s Liverpool? Take a self guided tour to discover his childhood home, some of his favourite pubs, where he met Paul McCartney for the first time and where they practised during their lunch breaks.
First off get yourself some breakfast – today is going to be a long day! I’d suggest the newly opened Vibe Cafe – you’ve just got to try their vegan eggs! I am the egg man, goo goo g’joob.
When you’ve filled up on vegan deliciousness head over to the Albert Dock. A great example of Victorian dock warehouses that have been repurposed for the 21st century.
Amongst the shops and restaurants you will find The Beatles Story. A splendid way to spend a few hours immersed in everything Beatles, there are replicas of The Cavern Club and Abbey Road studios and so much more. It includes a touching tribute to John – be warned you may need tissues!
How about a trip outside of the city centre? Head over to Liverpool One Bus Station and catch the 75 bus to Woolton Village. If you are ready for lunch or elevenses try out The Old Hardware Shop, a friendly and quirky vegan cafe with the most amazing sandwiches and cakes.
It’s a short walk from there to St Peters Church and hall where on 6th July 1957, John Lennon and The Quarrymen played two sets for the annual church fete. In a field at the back of the church during the afternoon and that evening in the church hall. By invitation of a mutual friend, Ivan Vaughan. Paul McCartney was also there. In the church hall John and Paul met for the very first time and within a week Paul was a member of the band. While you’re there have a look out for the grave stone of Eleanor Rigby.
A little further up the road you will come to Reynolds Park. It’s a beautiful urban park, feel free to explore it if you wish. Apparently a young John used to take his girlfriends here.
Heading down Linkstor Road and right onto Vale Road which will lead you round to Menlove Avenue. At 251 you will find Mendips, John’s childhood home, he lived here with his Aunt Mimi from 1945 until 1963, apart from the time he spent in student flats in the city centre and while gigging in Hamburg. It was upon leaving this house one July evening in 1958 after visiting her son and sister, that John’s mother Julia was fatally hit by a car. John was 17 at the time.
In 1965 his Aunt Mimi sold Mendips and moved to the English south coast. Yoko Ono bought the house in 2002 and donated it to The National Trust, who have faithfully restored it to a 1950s appearance. To visit you have to book a trip direct with the National Trust, which also includes a visit to Paul McCartney’s childhood home at 20 Forthlin Road. Both houses are worth a visit and it is interesting to contrast the homes of the two Beatles and also gives a great insight into life in 1950s Britain.
From Mendips turn back around and walk down Menlove Avenue until you come to Beaconsfield Road and just up the hill on the right you will find Strawberry Field. The gates and grounds are in themselves worth a visit.
However if you have time the exhibition sheds light on the original building, how the Salvation Army became involved and John Lennon’s connection; from trespassing and playing within the grounds as a child to writing one of The Beatles best known songs.
Back on Menlove, you can take the 76 bus or walk to Allerton Road/ Penny lane to visit the sites of the song. Currently at the Penny Lane Development Centre is a fantastic sculpture of John by Laura Lian, which makes it worth a visit.
Head back onto Allerton Road and catch an 86 bus towards Liverpool city centre. Get off at Catharine street and head to Falkner Street and turn left. Brian Epstein rented the ground floor flat at number 36 for himself but rarely used it, he let John and Cynthia live there for a while once they married, prior to them moving back to Mendips.
Back onto Catharine Street and retrace your steps, taking a right onto Canning Street. Stuart Sutcliffe had a flat at 9 Percy Street and John and Stu shared a flat at 3 Gambier Terrace, both of which are off Canning Street. Turning around the corner onto Hope Street you’ll find the former Liverpool College of Art where John was a student and where he met both Cynthia and Stuart.
Paul and George Harrison attended The Liverpool Institute next door and used to meet up with John in the Art College canteen for band practice. They also played several early Beatles gigs in the hall for the art student dances. Both now form part of LIPA – Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.
As you walk along Hope Street you will see the art installation “A Case History” which you can read more about here. Then on the left is Rice Street home to Ye Cracke a popular haunt for Liverpool college of Art students including John. Where the drink of choice was a poor mans black velvet – Guiness and cider. (A proper black velvet would be made with champagne rather than cider)
Ye Cracke would be a good place to stop for liquid refreshments as would The Philharmonic Dining Rooms just a bit further along Hope Street. ‘The Phil’ is the first purpose built pub to be awarded Grade 1 listed building status. Also the pub John said he missed going to for a pint once he became famous!
If your legs are aching you can hop back on the 86 to take you into the city centre, alternatively if you’re still feeling energetic take a leisurely walk down the hill along Hardman Street, Bold Street and Church Street.
Before hitting Matthew Street, line your stomach with some lovely food from Veggie Republic, how about their ‘fish’ and chips – the fish is made using banana blossom and is coated in scrumptious batter. Matthew Street is a Beatle fans delight, don’t forget to have your photo taken by the statue of John outside The Cavern Pub and check out the Cavern Wall of Fame – the bricks are engraved with the names of major acts that have played The Cavern Club.
Hopefully it won’t be long until the current situation is over and bars and live music venues can re-open properly. When they can, there is so much choice on Matthew Street but I would suggest The Cavern Pub for live music and memorabilia and The Cavern Club obviously! Although it is not the original club, it has been built in pretty much the same position using a lot of the original bricks. It also now has the credential of Paul McCartney having played the club twice. It has a great atmosphere and lots of live music, some original and some cover bands.
As the Cavern didn’t serve alcohol you could often find The Beatles stopping off for a drink in The Grapes. If they weren’t on stage at The Cavern and they weren’t in The Grapes, they were probably just around the corner in The White Star!
There is so much to see and do in Liverpool related to The Beatles and this is just a whirlwind tour of places. Here at Beatroute I am more than happy to include lots of Beatles facts and sites into a vegan food tour for you or to organise a bespoke tour if you wish. There are also plenty of very good Beatle tour guides and of course the Magical Mystery Tour Bus!
However you choose to spend your time in Liverpool, I’m sure “A splendid time is guaranteed for all!”