In this post, I’m reliving an exciting visit I made to the British City of Liverpool. Although the United Kingdom is relatively small, there are still so many great places I haven’t visited, but at the time, Liverpool was number 1 on my British Bucket List.
It was back in July 2007 that I ventured ‘North’ to the land of the scousers, staying in a friendly ‘B&B’ (Bed and Breakfast) for 2 nights, whilst I explored this fascinating city, armed with my old panasonic digital ‘point and shoot’, and a list of things that I had to see.
For me, more than anything, Liverpool means The Beatles, and being in my late 50’s I have vivid memories of Beatlemania. It is difficult to explain to those who weren’t around at the time just how big they were – of course there have been numerous major pop stars since, but these guys were the first, nothing like them had been seen before. OK, so I was a little too young to be going to concerts, but Beatles songs were all around me. Our first record player at home was a ‘Dansette’ and to celebrate it’s purchase, my Dad bought our first single, ‘I feel fine’, which I played so much, along with the more rockier B-side, ‘She’s a woman’ – such great songs, and with ‘She’s a woman’, perhaps an early indication of what was to become my passion for rock music.
But back to my trip, I was ready to lap up anything and everything that the city had to offer for those on the ‘Beatles Tourist Trail’, and it didn’t disappoint – the place to start was at the famous Albert Docks, home of ‘The Beatles Story’ exhibition.
The exhibition is a treasure trove of Beatle memorabilia, including recreations of their 2 best known venues during the early days, the ones at Liverpool’s own Cavern Club, and the Star Club in Hamburg. I didn’t take any pictures inside the exhibition, as I suspect photography was not permitted, but 2 particular exhibits stand out in my memory – firstly, some great pictures of The Quarrymen, the band in which John and Paul first played together. In fact, Paul joined the band in October 1957, the same month that yours truly was born! The second stand out exhibit was a very special white room featuring a pair of John’s iconic round spectacles, beautifully displayed in a glass case, with ‘Imagine’ playing softly in the background.
Following my visit to the exhibition, I booked a Beatles coach tour that promised to take me to all of the key sites around the city, complete with knowledgable guide – it sounded perfect.
The tour took in the childhood homes of the fab four, plus other related places such as Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and Mathew Street – home of the Cavern Club.
The Beatles were famed for playing regularly at the original Cavern Club, which was opened in 1957, and remained until 1973. The club was then demolished as part of construction work, but was rebuilt, and opened again in 1984. To keep true to its origins, many of the original bricks were used in the reconstruction. The venue closed for 18 months in 1989 due to financial pressures, but was re-opened in 1991, and still functions successfully today.
In addition to the Cavern Club, directly opposite, a new venue was established in 1994 by the same owners, called the Cavern Pub. The pub pays tribute to the Beatles and all of the other artists that were associated with the original Cavern Club. Directly outside the pub is a statue of John, which was unveiled in 1997.
After getting my Beatles overdose, the other major ‘must do’ for me was to visit the grounds of the two Premier League football clubs based in the city, Everton, and Liverpool.
The first thing that surprised me was how physically close the two grounds are; barely a mile separates Everton’s Goodison Park, from Liverpool’s Anfield – it must a nightmare on the locals roads on ‘derby day’!
I didn’t manage to stop at Goodison Park, but I did have a walk around the outside of Anfield, and was able to view some of the iconic images associated with this ground. Most notably the club’s famous slogan of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ captured beautifully above the main gates; and probably the saddest spot at any football ground, the poignant memorial to the 96 Liverpool fans, tragically killed in the ‘Hillsborough Disaster’ of 1989.
As with many major cities and towns in England, Liverpool takes it’s football very seriously, and the presence of these two giant clubs is testimony to the City’s love of the game.
So, if you’ve never ventured to Liverpool, then I very much recommend a visit. There is much more to the city than The Beatles and football, but they were the aspects that I was most keen to experience. Its a fun, lively city, with great people who have a wonderful sense of humour, and even if you can’t understand the unique accent, you will understand the smiles.