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The first stop on any Beatles tour should be The Beatles Story on Albert Docks. This exhibition tells the story of The Beatles, from John and Paul’s early days as The Quarrymen, through to the band’s key trips to Hamburg and America, and their eventual solo careers. Visitors are taken on a special trip through the Fab Four’s careers via replicas of The Cavern Club, Abbey Road studios and the famous Yellow Submarine, with a wealth of original memorabilia along the way. There is also a second exhibition at the Pier Head area, with a hidden gallery and additional memorabilia on show. The new Beatles statue is now outside here too!
It’s recommended that you spend several hours here as you really can get lost in the exhibition!
Thankfully, the Magic Mystery Tour bus starting point is also on Albert Docks – that’s handy! This two-hour bus tour takes you to various Beatles-related landmarks like Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, the Beatles’ childhood homes and St Peter’s Church, where the grave of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ can be found, but more importantly where John and Paul met for the first time. The tour ends at Mathew Street, the home of the Cavern Club.
The area of Woolton in Liverpool shot to fame with the 1967 hit ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, written by John Lennon. Strawberry Field was a Salvation Army orphanage until the 1970s, which was then replaced with a smaller children’s home. John grew up near the home and would play on the fields surrounding the house and attend summer garden parties. It was from this memory that Strawberry Fields Forever was written, and although the home has now been knocked down, fans can still visit the area and the graffiti-laden gates.
Another area of the city made famous by a Beatles song, Penny Lane is another Liverpool hotspot for Beatles fans to explore. John and Paul would meet at the bus terminus on Penny Lane to catch the bus in to the city centre, and various landmarks noted in the song are still there today. The “shelter in the middle of the roundabout” is still there to this day – though derelict following a stint as a Beatles-themed café – as is the bank (“the banker never wears a mac in the pouring rain”) and the barbers, in reference to “photographs of every head he’s had the pleasure to have known”.
Definitely the most famous club in the world, The Cavern on Mathew Street was the official birthplace of The Beatles. On Thursday 9th February 1961, The Beatles played their first show at the venue and would later go on to become the venue’s house band. The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, would then go on to sign them in 1962 after seeing them perform here, and the rest is history.
The Cavern Club is a popular tourist attraction and functioning live music venue for a number of local and international touring bands. The venue features countless items of memorabilia from The Beatles and other bands who have graced its tunnel-like walls, so don’t forget to check out the brick wall outside with the names of bands who have played inside the iconic venue.
Across the alley from the Club is the Cavern Pub, another basement bar and venue on Mathew Street. The Pub houses memorabilia from both The Beatles and other worldwide artists who have graced the stage at the Club across the street. Near the venue there’s an iconic bronze status of John Lennon leaning against the wall and regular live music takes place here, with Beatles merchandise also available to purchase.
While The Cavern is internationally known as the birthplace of the band, the Casbah Coffee Club was also highly significant for The Beatles. The Casbah was a venue in the cellar of the Best’s family home (Pete Best as the original Beatles drummer) after Mona, Pete’s mother, wanted to give The Quarrymen a place to play to their friends and fans. The cellar venue opened in 1959 and closed in 1962, but in 2006 it was given a blue plaque by English Heritage and is now a Grade II listed building. It’s now a tourist attraction and various 1960s artifacts still remain, such as original chairs, amplifiers and a silhouette of Lennon painted on the wall by Cynthia, John’s first wife.
Around the same time that the Casbah Coffee Club was opened as a tourist attraction, Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes were too. In the houses you’ll be shown where the pair would practice as The Quarrymen and write some of the band’s biggest hits as The Beatles. The houses have been kept as they would have been in the ’50s and ’60s, with rooms and gardens still intact. Joint tours of the two houses are bookable via the National Trust.
For a real Beatles accommodation experience, you must stay the Hard Day’s Night Hotel. This Grade II listed building has been beautifully restored to mimic its original state and features over 100 pieces of rare artwork relating to the band. The hotel is just a stone’s throw away from the Cavern Club, so when you’re worn out from dancing all night long, your perfect retreat is just around the corner.