251 Menlove Avenue (Mendips)
I didn't get any pictures of the dining room, a small room with a radio and the third (private) bedroom.
You go in via the rear entrance. Once inside you're in the kitchen.
Through the hallway and into the living room at the front.
Upstairs on the left there's a separate toilet and bathroom. At the front of the house there are two bedrooms, Mimi's and John's.
The bed in John's room is his actual one. It was never used as a bedroom after the house was sold, and the bed remained there all those years. And yes, I did sit on it and think of him composing Please Please Me there.
The bedroom contains posters, reproductions of The Daily Howl (John's cartoon newspaper), a Quarry Bank High School cap (stitched to the bedspread to foil light-fingered tourists), pages from Mersey Beat and various framed school certificates etc.
20 Forthlin Road
There are pictures taken by Mike McCartney all around the house. The reason why the National Trust doesn't allow photographs to be taken inside the house is because the McCartneys are very strict about copyright, and don't want them reproduced without permission. Their appearance here should be considered incidental use, for those interested in copyright law.
That's me in picture two.
There's a plaque above the inside doorway which says: "In loving memory of Mum & Dad MARY & JIM" which Paul and his brother Michael arranged.
The living room is decorated with reproduction wallpaper in the style as it was at the time. John and Paul wrote Love Me Do and I Saw Her Standing There in this room.
From the telephone to the first shot with the deck chair is from inside the dining room. This now contains display cabinets of Beatles memorabilia, plus a copy of the tenancy agreement signed by the McCartneys.
The first deck chair pic was taken from the dining room window. A similar pic taken by Mike McCartney was used on the front of Paul's album Chaos And Creation In The Back Yard.
Into the garden and the back of the house. There's an outside toilet and coal shed, and the original deckchair.
The kitchen shots were taken when everyone else was in the living room, so I got plenty of pics.
At the top of the stairs looking down, with the front door on the right. Then one shot of Paul's bedroom. Then there are three of the room he shared with his brother.
As with Menlove Avenue, there's a third bedroom which is kept private for the curators to use.
9 Madryn Street
This is the house that Ringo was born in.
This is part of around 10 streets in the Dingle area of Liverpool which the council wishes to bulldoze. According to our guide, no developer has the money right now to redevelop it, nor does the city council. So it's a bit of a ghost town.
I've read some news reports that Ringo's house has had grills over it to stop souvenir hunters. In truth, all the houses have grills. The difference with number nine is that the grills extend over the stonework to stop people chipping away at it.
There are photos of a second house here. This is number 10, directly opposite number nine, and is where Ringo's childhood friend Marie lived. There's the word BEATLES written into the stonework above the window here.
You can also see it on Google Maps. When the Google car called round it wasn't boarded up.
A short distance from Madryn Street is the Empress Pub, as featured on the cover of Ringo's Sentimental Journey album. Round the corner from the pub is Admiral Grove, where Ringo also lived.
The Casbah Coffee Club
First thoughts: it's way out of the city centre. Considering it was such a popular venue, it shows how willing people were for their rock 'n' roll fix back in the day.
Second thoughts: it's in a grand house which looks incredibly shabby. I think most of the house is used as an office for the Pete Best Band and family, but it could really do with some investment to make it look better.
The Casbah is in the basement, with the entrance round the back. We were shown around by Pete and Rory Best's younger brother Roag (pronounced 'rogue', the son of Mona Best and Neil Aspinall). Roag was lovely, patient and allowed us to take as many photos as we liked.
Through the entrance (the CCC painting) you come to a room with a piano in. The ceiling was painted by John Lennon. It's amazing to be able to reach up and touch this.
Through the archway to the left is where the Quarrymen played on the opening night of the club. In the shot is George, Paul, Ken Brown and John. The ceiling was painted by Paul McCartney.
From there you come to the main band room, which was used later once it became obvious that the little corridor was too small. The pink ceiling just outside this was painted by George Harrison, who mixed up all the leftover paint after Paul had finished his stripes.
In the main band room are two drum kits. I presume this is where the Pete Best Band rehearses. The spider mural was by Pete Best in the 60s, and the ceiling was by John and Pete.
In the far left corner of the room it says JOHN I'M BACK, scratched in by Lennon after their first return from Hamburg.
In the final room you'll see three tables. The one on the right is apparently the location where John and Paul persuaded Stu Sutcliffe to buy a bass guitar. They kept pushing his table (not the one shown here) back against the wall until he eventually relented.
This is where the bar was. The silhouette was painted by Cynthia Powell (later Lennon) and is of John. The stars on the ceiling were painted by John, Pete and Stu Sutcliffe (I think), and although parts of it are now crumbling, it's reckoned to be worth around £3 million.
Cavern Club and Mathew Street
Every Thursday a tribute band, Beatle Mania, plays the Cavern Club. The venue is a few doors up from the original, but is similar, with curved brick ceilings, two storeys down and sweltering hot. It was packed when we went. The band plays three sets but we left after the first, at about 11pm.
There's a statue of John at the top of the street. This is the second head he's had; the first had him with a quiff, a la the Rock 'N' Roll album.
Other photos from the trip
I've held back the ones of me and Ellie, that's why these might seem a bit impersonal. Here are a few more from around the city. The Pier Head building, where the Beatles Hidden Gallery and White Feather exhibitions are taking place. Liverpool Town Hall. Some shots of Albert Dock, and pics of the Lennon Peace Monument, which really is ghastly. No wonder they put it out of the way at the back of a shopping centre.
OK, that's it. Some other thoughts though. It's a good thing that the elders of Liverpool decided to build when it was a prosperous port – the buildings really are amazing, great architecture.
As for Beatles stuff, there's a clear divide between original and authentic, and ersatz new stuff for tourists. The authentic things are amazing; if you can go, I thoroughly recommend the National Trust homes and the Casbah. Less good is Mathew Street and the surrounding area. There's a Rubber Soul bar, a Lennon's Bar, and a Cavern Pub, none of which were there originally. The Cavern Club is somewhere in between the two extremes, with something of the sweaty atmosphere but the knowledge that it's not the 1960s original.
Worst was the Hard Day's Night hotel bar (we didn't stay), which was soulless and decorated with horrible paintings of The Beatles that looked nothing like them. It had Beatles songs on a loop but at the end even we were getting sick of them.
I also found the Beatles Story exhibition disappointing, but that's probably because I knew most of it already. Good for those who don't know much about the history. It's actually split into two parts now, at Albert Dock and the Pier Head building, where a single ticket will also get you into the White Feather (Julian Lennon's exhibition) and the Beatles Hidden Gallery (Paul Beriff's photographs). Nobody checked my ticket on the way in to the latter, incidentally. White Feather is particularly good, with a complete set of gold discs (singles and albums), photos, a Sgt Pepper-era kaftan and John's Help! cape, postcards and unfinished lyrics and so on.
Lastly, the National Trust properties don't allow photographs inside. These are real exclusives. Sorry if anyone from the Trust is reading and takes offence – I wanted to post them here as I think it will really inspire more people to visit. They're both magical places and truly essential to visit.
EDIT I forgot to mention the people! Liverpudlians are some of the friendliest in the world. My wife's a northerner and she loved having kindly strangers happy to help us out – she got quite wistful for the old days in Lancashire!
29 September 2010
14 April 2010
Thanks Joe. I love the photos (they give me chiils just looking at them), but more valuable to me are your reviews. I hope to travel to Liverpool someday before I expire and would hate to waste my time/money on places & things that are not worth visiting.
I was a litle disappointed about the Hard Day's Night Hotel. I've looked at (drooled over?) their website several times and thought it loked like cool – although pricey – place to stay. Now I'll think again.
Is the Empress Pub still in business?
To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.
Glad you liked them. Yes, sitting on John's bed gave me chills, but the whole experience was so amazing I was in a bit of a daze anyway.
Zig – the Empress is still in business, yes, but I don't know for how much longer. As I mentioned above, that area of Dingle is largely a ghost town these days. If you look closely at the full image you'll see above the door: "This building appeared on the sleeve of Ringo Starr's first solo album Sentimental Journey". We didn't go in; that photo was taken from the window of a minibus.
There are plenty of places I didn't get to. Strawberry Field, St Peter's Church, George's birthplace and so on. We did drive through Penny Lane, where the barber's and the bank still are. I missed the Astrid Kirchherr exhibition at the Victoria Gallery and didn't get to see the bed-in at the Bluecoat, but we were only there for two full days and couldn't do much more.
The driver from the National Trust told us they're unlikely to buy any more Beatle homes in Liverpool. The ones they did get were chosen partly as that's where songs were written, whereas the other homes are less noteworthy.
Roag Best said the Casbah has been given protected status, but I'm not exactly sure what that means. Presumably they're not allowed to make any major changes to the building without planning permission, though I wouldn't have thought they'd want to do anything too radical anyway.
Incidentally, Roag told us the stars on the ceiling were once valued at £15,000 each about 20 years ago by someone from Christie's or Bonham's (I forget which). That's how he arrived at today's price of £3 million. Some of them have actually fallen off, and in years gone by they even tried to remove some of them to preserve them before realising what a bad idea it was.
19 September 2010
1 May 2010
Wow all this is awesome! I haven't seen all the pics but I'll do it this weekend.
I've got a question. Nobody told you anything when you sat on John's bed??
(BTW I knew your hair is blond. Nevertheless is really WEIRD to see you in a pic and realize your hair is actually blond. If you know what I mean… )
9 June 2010
Mith: here's the deal in the National Trust houses. You get driven there in pre-booked tours. On the way they tell you that you can't take any cameras inside – all bags have to be checked into the cloakrooms. Cue iPhone slipped into pocket during the journey.
Once inside the tour guides show you around each room, then give you a bit of time to explore on your own. The reason the photos look like I was in an empty house was because I hung around until nobody was in the room, then snapped a pic or two. That's why some are slightly blurry, you can't read the report cards etc as I was worried about getting spotted; they were quick, sneaky snaps. There were actually more than a dozen of us being shown around, though luckily I managed to find empty rooms at the right time.
In Mendips there was a lot more time to explore. At Forthlin Road the guide took us from room to room in quite an orderly way, but at the end he ushered everyone into the living room to tell a few anecdotes while we were waiting for the driver to return. I snuck off and wandered back into the garden, kitchen etc and took a few pics while he was speaking.
Ellie took a photo of me sitting on John's bed. Unfortunately I have such a cheesy grin that I'm too embarrassed to share it. Sorry!
9 June 2010
1 May 2010
Ohh that's good to know Joe, because I'm planning to go to Liverpool next year. (I hope I can make it)
And how brave of you for taking those pics!! I remember I was so .. how to say it? Worried of losing my sister's camera that I didn't want to take it to Paul's concert. I felt kind of stupid when I watched everybody with their cameras. And I'm like that in everything, I always double check in museums that my flash is not on before taking any photo.
I dunno.. I'm always kind of chicken when it comes with things like that.
BTW I can imagine your grin something like this
14 October 2009
Great photos Joe - I really enjoyed them. Luckily for me the memories of these places are still very fresh. You were sneaky to get the photos - I had an SLR diigtal camera so there was no way I would get away with it and I wasn't prepared to risk getting thrown out of such a place!
I totally agree about how shabby the Casbah looks. Rory told me there was a recording studio on the ground floor.
It's a pity you never got to St. Peter's Church or Arnold Grove, but they'll be there the next time you go.
And like you, I found the Beatles Story more for the novice rather than the hard-core fan – I knew it all already.
Finally……about the pic on John's bed – come on, we won't laugh. Show off something you've done that not many other's have!
14 April 2010
And I'm like that in everything, I always double check in museums that my flash is not on before taking any photo. I dunno.. I'm always kind of chicken when it comes with things like that.
BTW I can imagine your grin something like this
Sounds to me like you are more considerate than chicken.
That photo cracks me up! C'mon Joe – is that how you want us to picture your grin? Show us the photo!
To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.
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