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In My Life
16 March 2014
2.08am
Ron Nasty
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In My Life is, rightly, considered as one of John's masterpieces. Many people know that the original was rather different to the end product. I want to talk a little about that first draft, and share some of what I have learnt over the years about John's references in it.

Here, for those who haven't seen it, is John's original draft:

The first verse to examine is the second:

Penny Lane is one I'm missing
Up Church Road to the Clock Tower
In the circle of the Abbey
I have seen some happy hours

Now, the first thing to say here, and this may be a shocker to some, but just as in Paul's song of the same name, John is not talking about the actual Penny Lane here, but to the bus stops and shelter at the junction of Heathfield Road and Smithdown Road, which for the purpose of the bus company were known as "Penny Lane". The barber shop that Paul would later refer to, for instance, is in Heathfield Road, and the bus shelter was in Smithdown Place.

"Penny Lane" Roundabout, in Smithdown Place:

The actual Penny Lane, just a short walk away:

The sad thing about Penny Lane, as with so much of Liverpool's history, is its association with the slave trade, is that it was named for the prominent 18th Century slaveship owner and anti-abolitionist, James Penny.

However, John and Paul would meet up at the junction of Smithdown Road and Penny Lane, and walk down to the "Penny Lane" bus shelter in Smithdown Place to get a bus into Liverpool.

The bus would head off up Church Road (as it looked in 1909):

(and as it looks now):

As Church Road North met High Street in Wavertree and Childwall Road (a likely place for a young Harrison to join them on the bus) they would pass the Picton Clock Tower, built by architect James Picton (one of the builders of Liverpool, the original Corn Exchange among his many works) in 1884 as a memorial to his wife who had died five years earlier:

© Copyright Raymond Knapman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Heading down Childwall, they would pass the Childwall Abbey Hotel and Pub (probably a converted Chapel, it has had its current use for at least a century):

I will return to do the original third verse. Hope you have enjoyed my trip through John's original second verse, and my showing you some of the sights – and their history – that he was recalling on his way into Liverpool.

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"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
16 March 2014
9.01am
Oyster Black Pearl
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Excellent write-up, but I must point out you are incorrect about The Abbey.

The Abbey was a cinema, not the pub in Childwall, hence the line about the circle (or balcony), and having "happy hours" watching films. It is now a supermarket (since the 80's) and is located right next to the clock tower – see pic below, it's the large building in the background. It's still referred to as "The Abbey", and was/is a meeting place landmark ("I'll see you by The Abbey"). 

040780_da44acde.jpg

The Childwall Abbey is in the opposite direction, away from the city centre – Liverpool<>Wavertree<>Childwall. As an aside, in Lewisohn's new book, there's a photo of the Boys in the room upstairs at the Childwall Abbey. It's a much loved pub in Liverpool, with a history stretching back many hundreds of years. It has nothing to do with it being formerly an Abbey etc, I think it took it's name as it resembled such a building.

Many buses had (and still do have) "Penny Lane" as their destination, the bus shelter serves as a central point where buses would begin/end their journeys,north to the city down Smithdown road, south to Speke/Woolton, east to West Derby/then Bootle. This last route would take you the short distance up Church Road to Wavertree (Abbey/clock tower) where with the clock tower in front of you, you would take a left past the Jag in the photo. This turn left runs parallel to the Smithdown route, so the only reason I could see them taking this route via Wavertree would be to meet George, but as he didn't live in Wavertree he must have got another bus from Huyton to Wavertree?

Anyhow, that's all getting a bit silly now!

 

" They should do Marmite flavour."

16 March 2014
10.04am
Ron Nasty
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@Oyster Black Pearl Thanks for the suggestion/correction on The Abbey. Several sources I have seen suggest that it's the Childwall Abbey (and, as you say, it was a place they were familiar with). The Abbey Cinema does fit the line, and I would propose both as possibilities. Just to play devil's advocate, while the Abbey Cinema was a haunt of George's – he went to Saturday-morning cinema there, John and his gang used either Woolton Picture House or the Gaumont on Mather Avenue.

Regarding the history of the Childwall Abbey, I got the bit about it formerly being a Chapel from "The History of Childwall" website. I would link to the site (and did in the first post, but unlinked it) but have noticed that the site's author, Jonathan Wild, requires written permission to link to his site, and not wanting to infringe his copyright… However, he says on his site, that though largely rebuilt, that part of the building dates back to the 15th Century, and it most likely started life as a Monastery Chapel, probably the Chapel of St Thomas the Martyr – the earliest mention of which dates to 1484.

EDIT: As to the sense of the actual journey, I don't think John was looking for it to be taken as literally as I have, but to use it as a way of referencing places he remembered. As we will see in the third verse, he returns to Smithdown Road.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
16 March 2014
1.01pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Super post Ron Nasty! Great pictures.

In My Life is probably one of the more controversial Beatle songs wrt to who did what on that song. The lyrics are Lennon's, but McCartney in "Many Years From Now" says he wrote the melody. Lennon says McCartney wrote the middle eight – but there is no middle eight.

Anyone have an opinion?

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
16 March 2014
4.43pm
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Smithdown-Place-bus-stop.png

Penny-Lane-bus-stops.jpg
The first map has the bus stop at Smithdown Place. On the second map, I marked Penny Lane at Dovedale Road to get the location in context. I couldn't get them to show on the same map due to zooming.

I've never done a map thingy like this, so if someone has a better idea of how to do it, please let me know.

16 March 2014
4.48pm
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intersection.png

Here's the intersection of Church/High/Childwall

 

16 March 2014
8.31pm
fabfouremily
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Into the Sky with Diamonds said
Super post Ron Nasty! Great pictures.

In My Life is probably one of the more controversial Beatle songs wrt to who did what on that song. The lyrics are Lennon's, but McCartney in "Many Years From Now" says he wrote the melody. Lennon says McCartney wrote the middle eight – but there is no middle eight.

Anyone have an opinion?

No idea if this is any sort of explanation, but I've read they sometimes referred to a middle eight even when there wasn't one. So what they (by that I mean J&P) were actually referring to was another part of the song. Not sure how true that is, though.

 

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17 March 2014
8.30pm
Zig
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I am enjoying this post, Ron Nasty – thank you!

BTW – just now noticed you changed your handle. I rarely look at a Forumpudlian's name if I recognize the avatar.

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

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17 March 2014
9.21pm
rocknrollstours
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Fantastic pictures of old Liverpool I love them!

17 March 2014
9.34pm
Billy Rhythm
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fabfouremily said

Into the Sky with Diamonds said
Super post Ron Nasty! Great pictures.

In My Life is probably one of the more controversial Beatle songs wrt to who did what on that song. The lyrics are Lennon's, but McCartney in "Many Years From Now" says he wrote the melody. Lennon says McCartney wrote the middle eight – but there is no middle eight.

Anyone have an opinion?

No idea if this is any sort of explanation, but I've read they sometimes referred to a middle eight even when there wasn't one. So what they (by that I mean J&P) were actually referring to was another part of the song. Not sure how true that is, though.

 

 

There's probably more of a 'Middle Eight' present here than there is a 'Chorus', I've always seen the "In My Life, I Love You More" bits tagged on at the end of the verses to be a very brief 'Chorus' and the "All These Places had their Moments, with people and…." to be the 'Middle Eight'.  It's the same song structure as 'We Can Work It Out', which was also written around the same time, or George's 'If I Needed Someone' from the same album….:-)

19 March 2014
4.22am
Necko
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That's very cool.  I had known that John had originally written In My Life with specific landmarks from his past, but I had never read/seen the original lyrics until now.  Thanks for sharing!

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21 March 2014
5.54am
Ron Nasty
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Just to let you know that I haven't forgotten. I will be doing the third verse at the weekend.

I would like to thank all those who have viewed this thread, and those who have enjoyed the idea I had.

And here, just before I get into the third verse, I would especially like to thank @Bungalow Bob for leading me to this.

He recently posted the third verse in a Rubber Soul thread, but was unable to decipher all the words.

My first thought was that I could fill in his gaps for him. I then remembered my interest in the places John was mentioning when I first saw the draft in the '80s (I believe in Hunter Davies' Authorised). I started to explore those references John made a few years ago, and still remember my joy on my discovery of the Picton Clock Tower. It was no longer "the Clock Tower" but A Specific Clock Tower.

I wondered whether others might be as interested as I was in knowing these places, and it seems there is some interest, for which I thank you. The third verse is as interesting, and in some ways – particularly "the Dutch" – more interesting, in that it has a connection that surprised me when I discovered it, and one that John couldn't have possibly imagined!

As I say, the third verse will appear over the weekend, and I thank you again for your interest in my idea.

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"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
25 March 2014
2.32am
Ron Nasty
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So here we are again. Sorry for the slight delay. I meant to have this up yesterday, but while looking for one of the pictures I'd foolishly forgotten to save the link to, I discovered I had the wrong location, and that led to more discoveries on another location… yada, yada, yada…

Anyway, I now have all my ducks lined up and so here we go.

John's original third verse ran:

Past the tramsheds with no trams
On the 5 bus into town
Past the Dutch and St. Columbus
To the Dockers Umbrella that they pulled down

The journey into Liverpool has double-backed. We're back on  Smithdown Road again here.

It was here I almost made my mistake, with "the tramsheds". I had believed until last night that he was referring to the bus depot on Prince Alfred Road (close to Smithdown Road), and that it had been converted from one use to another.

Last night I discovered, by accident, that the second tram depot in Liverpool, was built on Smithdown Road in 1899.

The first depot was the Dingle depot, opened the year before. The Smithdown Road depot, as I said the second, and opened in 1899, could handle 96 tram cars at its height. It had one of the shorter lives of the Liverpool tram depots in that it was closed around about 1936. The building remained for a long time however, with nobody knowing what to do with it.

It was still standing in 1989, and this picture, taken in 1986, is probably close to how John would have seen it, with its arches closed:

One interesting image of Smithdown Road I found when looking in regards to trams was this one, from the same site, is this image of Smithdown Road being dug up for roadworks in 2001.
Original tram track exposed in Smithdown Road on 28th September 2001

In the centre of the picture you can see the buried tram lines down Smithdown, never pulled up but  just buried beneath newer road surfaces, and there on the right you can see a Magical Mystery Tour bus squeezing through. The world of John's youth colliding with his legacy!

I don't know exactly where "the tramsheds" were on Smithdown Road, but let's assume John is travelling down it in the right order, towards Liverpool, next we pass "the Dutch".

The "Dutch" is the "Old Dutch Café" on Smithdown Road, it was also known as "Dutch Eddie's" (though that seems to be a nickname associated with several places in Liverpool).

This is the only picture I know of the Dutch as a café (there must be others!), taken during February 1970.

The majority of the information I found on the Dutch I discovered in a conversation started by granddaughter, Donna, of the owners from the '50s to 1972, Betty and Frank, on the Yo!/Liverpool website two or three years ago.

Some interesting bits from the conversation.

From a post by a user calling himself Fat scouse: "I used to hang around in the Dutch café in the early 60's I lived around the corner in Garmoyle Road then, I block away from where John and Cynthia Lennon first lived in a bedsit. (I guess Julian Lennon was conceived there as he was born in Sefton General hospital on Smithdown Rd (same as me). Anyway, back to the Dutch café, The Beatles used to go there and play on the pinball machines in the back room, the same as I did." [I have edited this slightly for punctuation.]

This post in the thread confirmed to me that I had nailed "the Dutch". However, as I kept reading, other things caught my interest.

A few posts on, Glenys Shaw said this, in response to Fat scouse: "You also forgot to mention that Pete Best worked for Frank and Betty in his post Beatles years."

What?!? Pete Best?!? Feck!

Wow! Was John really writing about a place Pete ended up working in after he was dumped?

Then came a post from another family member, the_yankee (some of this is sad, but some may be lost history): "I have a couple pictures of our Grandmother (Betty) and Frank inside/outside the cafe. Nana visited us once or twice a year in Massachusetts when I was little. I was a young kid, but remember her well. My cousin Donna (creator of this thread) can expand/confirm more details about the following info: but Nana and Frank's plan was to sell the cafe (supposedly, one potential buyer was John Lennon) and then move to the states and live with us, but her Cancer took hold quicker than expected. Nana passed away in the early 70's, the cafe was sold, Frank moved to the US and lived with my family in Massachusetts for a few years (great memories of 'Grampy&#39a-hard-days-night-george-10. Frank remarried in Massachusetts and passed away a few years later.

"One of the pictures I have may be Pete Best with Nana at the cafe, on the back it just labels a 'peter' in the photo, so I'm not sure….I have posted over at petebest.net to ask Pete if it's him or not. (whatcha think Donna? you've seen the picture, is it him?)"

I wish I could see that photo!

But, there you go, "the Dutch", a fascinating lost-Beatles site.

Can it still be found easily? Well, living in London, obviously hard to say, I can't say if it's still there, but…

You look at the 1970 picture I've included here, between the two windows, above Dutch, is the bottom of a sign. This is that sign in recent years:

I found "the Dutch" more interesting the more I learned about it.

Then, when I first started doing this for myself, I hit a brick wall. St. Columbus. That screwed me for years. There are St. Columbus's in Liverpool, but way off, and I found some St. Columba's, but also too far off.

I asked Oyster Black Pearl about this last week, and he came back with a suggestion, but said he would ask further questions as he knew his suggestion wasn't great but sort of fitted. A couple of days later he was back, heading toward Liverpool down Smithdown from the Dutch, there was a St. Columba's Presbyterian Church built in 1897. It closed in the 1950s, and was demolished in the 1980s, being replaced with sheltered housing (if people don't know that term, it's housing for groups like the elderly where they can live independently but have someone keep an eye on them for safety's sake). The tower remained as it was listed and he sent me a picture of it as it is now.

St Columba

© Copyright Sue Adair and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I thought that was good as I was going to do on St. Columba's. Last night though, looking at pictures of trams on Smithdown Road when I was looking for pictures of the tramsheds I found this of a tram on Smithdown, probably in around 1899. Does the tower behind the tram look familiar?

And then I found this view of Smithdown, taken from the opposite direction in 1900.

There it is clearly, on the right, St. Columba's Presbyterian Church. There is no mistaking that tower. I would suggest that the house, which appears in the same style, would be the vicarage (or whatever Presbyterians have), while the two right-angled roofs you can see behind the tower is the church.

Which leaves us with the "Dockers Umbrella".

The Docker's Umbrella was a nickname given to the world's 1st elevated lightweight electric railway.

It got its nickname because it joined the docks together, and it bridges provided dockworkers a place to shelter in bad weather.

Yet parts of it, even after it closed in 1956, would have remained evident.

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"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
25 March 2014
2.44am
Billy Rhythm
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You've blown us away many times before Ron Nasty, but I must say that this time you've outdone even yourself, excellent.  I think that it's about time that a budget be drafted and the groundwork be laid out for what others here have all ready suggested, it's time for a book to be distributed to the masses, well done…:-)

25 March 2014
3.46pm
HeyTrud
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***clapping***  Excellent, informative job, RN!!  Thank you!!  apple01apple01apple01

"....take a sad song & make it Meilleur"....

25 March 2014
4.38pm
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This is incredibly fascinating, RN!!

In reading any book about the Beatles or Liverpool, I am constantly amazed and amused by the little coincidences and commomn threads that bind so many Liverpudlians. Your stories of The Dutch up above are no exception. The pictures also bring to life the experiences shared by the lads when they were lads. I now have pictures in my head that go along with descriptions in the books.

Thank you so much!

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27 March 2014
8.22pm
Oyster Black Pearl
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Here's a bit more about the tram sheds.

The Prince Alfred Road and Smithdown Road Tram depots are one and the same. Prince Alfred Road runs from Church Road (to Wavertree High Street) along the back of the former depot, which is now a small retail park. You'll notice Newcastle Road to the centre-right, where John lived before moving to Menlove Avenue.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-27-at-20.03.45.jpg

 

In the next photo of Smithdown Road (with Penny Lane behind you, the City Centre in front) you can see the end of the wall of the what is left of the depot - 

 

Screen-Shot-2014-03-25-at-19.15.28.png

…and in this next one, looking the other way (towards Penny Lane), we have the opposing view of the same location, with our old friend 'The Dutch' right of frame.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-25-at-19.25.41.png

Finally, another view of St. Columba.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-25-at-19.17.51.png

 

Hope that gives another perspective on things? 

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27 March 2014
10.44pm
Ron Nasty
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Just for further clarification, and I hope that I'm getting Oyster Black Pearl right here, the tram depot on Smithdown Road, and the bus station on Prince Alfred Road were a part of the same complex, but they were not the same building.

I have found a picture of the bus depot in 1949 (could only link to it). If you compare it to the image of the tram sheds, it is obvious they are not the same building.

I also managed to find another couple of images of St. Columba's.

The first is another early image, still not a close view, but with the clearest view I've found so far.

And then this, taken from a similar angle, which must date towards the end of existence – as the roof is completely stripped.

I'll also take this opportunity to add an omission from my previous post. I mentioned that the Docker's Umbrella was the world's 1st elevated lightweight electric railway, but forgot to date it. It opened in 1893 and, as I previously said, closed in 1956.

I would especially like to thank @Oyster Black Pearl for his contribution to this thread, his local knowledge has proved invaluable, and was happy to help me with identifying St. Columba's.

I would also like to thank all those who have enjoyed this thread, and those who have thanked me for it. I realise it's not been the traditional discussion thread, but I'm happy that I've been allowed to get away with it!

 

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"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
28 March 2014
8.21am
Oyster Black Pearl
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Ron Nasty said
Just for further clarification, and I hope that I'm getting Oyster Black Pearl right here, the tram depot on Smithdown Road, and the bus station on Prince Alfred Road were a part of the same complex, but they were not the same building.

That's correct, buses obviously replaced trams, and as bus sheds didn't have to be next to the road (no tracks to lay) they were built on the land behind. Like John, I can remember the tram sheds (and others across the city) being empty.

 

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3 June 2014
8.51am
Oyster Black Pearl
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Probably not worth posting, but I've happened upon this photo of St. Colomba in it's prime.10382738_10202765364587547_3460532909284312924_n.jpg

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