From 1946 John Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi (Mary Smith) and Uncle George in their house, 'Mendips', at 251 Menlove Avenue, Liverpool, after his mother Julia had handed over care of her son to them.
Despite the living arrangements, Julia came to see John almost every day. In 1957 she bought him his first guitar, a cheap Gallotone Champion acoustic "guaranteed not to split". Julia shared John's love of rock and roll music, despite Mimi's disapproval, and saw her son playing in the Quarrymen.
On 15 July 1958, when John was 17, Julia died on Menlove Avenue shortly after leaving Mimi's house, while crossing the road to get to a bus stop. She was struck by a car driven by a drunk off-duty policeman, PC Eric Clague, who was a learner driver. He was acquitted of all charges and later left the police force to become a postman.
Mrs Lennon just ran straight out in front of me. I just couldn't avoid her. I was not speeding, I swear it. It was just one of those terrible things that happen.
John's childhood friend Nigel Whalley later recounted what happened:
I went to call for John that evening but his Aunt Mimi told me he was out. Mimi was at the gate with John's mum, who was about to leave. We stood chatting and John's mum said 'Well, you have the privilege of escorting me to the bus stop!' I said 'That will do me fine. I'll be happy to do that.'
We walked down Menlove Avenue and I turned off to go up Vale Road, where I lived. I must have been about 15 yards up the road when I heard a car skidding. I turned round to see John's mum going through the air. I rushed over but she had been killed instantly.
Whalley ran back to Mendips to get Mimi, who cried hysterically as they waited for an ambulance. Julia died at the scene.
I didn't see John much after that because he became a bit of a recluse. It worried me because, deep down, I wondered whether he blamed me for the accident and was thinking 'If only Nigel Whalley had stayed a minute longer talking to my mum'. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.
She is buried in the Allerton Cemetery in Liverpool.