One of the most important things I wanted to do while we were in Liverpool was get around town to see some of the places related to the Beatles. Liverpool is where the Beatles were born, grew up, went to school, and came together as a band, so I knew there was going to be a lot to see! Rather than try to see it all on our own (which would have been really difficult since we didn’t have a car), we decided to book a Beatles taxi tour with Fab Four Tours.
Disclaimer: The cost for our Beatles taxi tour came from our own pocket, so you can rest assured I’m not hawking this particular company because I’ve been paid to. There are a handful of companies who offer a Beatles taxi tour in Liverpool, so do your research and pick the one that’s best for you!
Liverpool city is quite compact and walk-able, but getting out to the suburbs and other areas just outside the city center requires taking some form of transportation. If you’re not on a tight schedule and you feel confident enough to navigate Liverpool’s bus system, you can definitely get around to all the Beatles locations on your own. The other option for getting around to all these spots is to take one of the Beatles bus tours. Ticket prices on the bus tours are cheaper than the Beatles taxi tours, but if blurry photographs through a fingerprinted window as the bus slowly creeps past the sights doesn’t sound like the experience you had in mind, I’d go with the Beatles taxi tour. It’s more expensive, but I can guarantee you it’ll be a lot more fun!
We booked the Lennon Tour with Fab Four Tours which allowed us three full hours in a taxi with a driver who was willing to stop and get out everywhere we wanted on the tour, for as long as we wanted, and tell us stories along the way. (Bonus – Our driver also took our pictures everywhere we stopped, which means for the first time ever on a trip, we actually have some photos of all three of us together!) Because I’d rather not bore you with a continuous, ‘And then we went here…’, the sights below are not listed in the order we saw them on the tour. If you’re planning to check out each of these spots on your own via bus or car, you’ll definitely want to plan out a more logical route. Now that that’s out of the way, off we go!
BEATLES SIGHTS AROUND LIVERPOOL
Former Register Office In Mount Pleasant
This is a super attractive picture of our driver, Jay, holding the only visual evidence of John Lennon’s first marriage to Cynthia Powell. No photographs were allowed because Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, didn’t want news getting out to the public that John was off the market. The Beatles’ single status had to be carefully protected so as not to alienate their female fans. This drawing is one Cynthia drew after the wedding since there were no photos. My favorite part is the guy outside the window with the jackhammer. Apparently it was so loud, no one could hear what was being said at the wedding! (FYI – I’m not sure what this building is now, but it is NOT pretty, hence the photo of Jay in mid-sentence representing this location.)
One of the two main cathedrals in the city, Liverpool Cathedral only has loose ties with the Beatles, but it’s attractive enough to warrant a pop in. Here, pre-Beatles fame, Paul McCartney auditioned to be a part of the church choir…and was turned DOWN.
36 Falkner Street
The house with the little red door was a secret apartment owned by Brian Epstein where John and Cynthia lived during their first year of marriage. Prior to the Lennon’s taking up residence, Epstein had used this flat as his secret love shack.
Liverpool Institute & Liverpool Art College
These two colleges are right beside each other. Liverpool Institute, where both Paul McCartney and George Harrison attended when it was still an all boy’s grammar school, is pictured. The Liverpool Art College, where John Lennon attended, was under construction when we visited and didn’t make for a very pretty picture.
Liverpool Maternity Hospital
Now a part of Liverpool University, Liverpool Maternity Hospital was where John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940. The building is now used as student housing, but a plaque has been placed on the brick wall outside the door to commemorate his birth.
A Case History By John King
A Case History is a sculpture near the Liverpool Institute featuring guitar cases and various pieces of luggage with the names of famous people who have attended the schools inscribed on them. The guitar case front and center in the picture above is the one representing Paul McCartney’s attendance at the Institute.
FAMOUS PUBS RELATED TO THE BEATLES
Ye Crack Free House
Located a short walk away from Liverpool Art College on Rice Street is Ye Crack (pronounced ‘The Crack’) where John Lennon and Cynthia Powell used to hang out when they were dating. They met at Liverpool Art College in 1957 and began dating a year later.
This pub was just around the corner from the house where Ringo Starr grew up. Ringo had such sentimental memories of singing around the piano in this pub that he featured it on the album cover of his first solo album after the Beatles broke up. Ringo’s mother, Elsie, was also a barmaid here.
The Cavern Club
Not pictured, but there are plenty of photos on my post about our night at the Cavern Club. There is an option to have your Beatles taxi tour start and end on Mathew Street where the Cavern Club is located, and if you haven’t already been there, I highly recommend you do that. The Grapes, where the Beatles used to have a drink before shows at the Cavern, is also on Mathew Street, so there are some strong Beatles ties in this area. (We’d already toured this street extensively, so our taxi picked us up right in front of our hotel and we skipped Mathew Street to allow more time elsewhere.)
THE BEATLES’ CHILDHOOD HOMES
20 Forthlin Road
Paul McCartney’s third childhood home where Paul and John wrote many of the Beatles’ songs. The window above the door was Paul’s bedroom. Paul’s childhood home is now a National Trust sight and can be visited for a fee. This isn’t part of the taxi tour, so we didn’t get to go in, but I would have loved to if we’d had the time.
174 Macket’s Lane
George Harrison’s third family home in Liverpool. They moved into this home in 1962, but were forced to move shortly after in 1965 because of the growing popularity of the Beatles and fans’ tendency to trespass on the property.
251 Menlove Avenue
John Lennon’s second home in Liverpool. At five years old, he came to live here with his Aunt Mimi since life with his mother had grown unstable and John’s father was pretty much absent from his life. This is also where he lived with Cynthia after their son, Julian, was born. Like Paul’s house, this one is now owned by the National Trust and can be toured. Out of all the Beatles’ homes, this was my favorite. (FYI – I do not usually stand so awkwardly in photos. I was trying to imitate John in the photo I’m holding which I’m just now realizing you can’t even see. Perfect.)
9 Madryn Street
Ringo Starr’s first home in Liverpool. This neighborhood is in limbo right now as the city decides whether to level it and build new homes or find a way to revamp it. All of the residences have been boarded up, including Ringo’s, but his is easy to spot because it’s covered in colorful drawings and signatures of fans. Just around the corner we also saw his second family home at 10 Admiral Grove (not pictured), a much smaller home that the family moved into after his parents separated. (The Empress pub I mentioned earlier is right here, too!)
PLACES MENTIONED IN THE BEATLES’ SONGS
One of my personal favorites, thanks to its idyllic lyrics and a nickname I was given in college, Penny Lane is a song written and sung by Paul McCartney about a street near where John Lennon used to live, and where Paul had to change buses to get from his house to John’s. Both of them felt nostalgic about growing up in this area, and worked on the lyrics of the song together, although John is only credited with contributing on the third verse.
After checking out the painted street sign on Penny Lane (because fans keep stealing the real ones!), we drove a little further and were able to see the ‘shelter in the middle of a roundabout’ which is not pictured because it is literally just a bus shelter in the middle of the street. Ha! Also on this corner is the ‘barber sharing photographs’ which happened to be closed since it was a Sunday, so no barbers showed us any photographs, but I hear there are some inside of the Beatles receiving haircuts. (Somebody knows how to capitalize on their fame!) And finally, we saw the fire station where they like to ‘keep their fire engines clean’.
Another of my favorites! (Okay, they’re all favorites…) We, of course, had to stop at the gates to the infamous Strawberry Field which inspired John to write the song, Strawberry Fields Forever. Back in the day, Strawberry Field was a Salvation Army orphanage next to John’s childhood home. His memories of jumping over the wall and playing in the wild gardens that grew there inspired the song (but good luck reading that into the lyrics of the song).
Contrary to popular belief, no strawberries actually grow here, and what sits behind the gate is no longer an orphanage, but a church. On both the gate (which is a replica of the original) and the brick walls surrounding it, fans have left their names and thoughts behind which I think just adds to the character. :)
St. Peter’s Parish Church
The reason for stopping here was two-fold. First, in the graveyard outside of the church is where you’ll find the grave of Eleanor Rigby whose name (subconsciously) inspired the song of the same name. (Both John and Paul claim they didn’t intentionally use a name from the graveyard where they used to hang out as teenagers, but it must have stuck in their subconscious because that would be way too big a coincidence!) In the same graveyard is a gravestone with the name McKenzie on it, aka Father McKenzie from the same song.
The other important reason for stopping here was because if it weren’t for a chance meeting at a church fête held here in July 1957, the Beatles might never have become anything at all! John and his band, the Quarrymen, were playing at the church party, and in between their scheduled shows that day, another member of the band introduced John to a friend of his from the Liverpool Institute. Who was that friend? …Paul McCartney. And the rest is history!
If you’re interested in taking a Beatles taxi tour with Fab Four Tours, you can find their tours and prices here. For more information about Beatles sights in Liverpool, check out 6 Things To Do In Liverpool For Beatles Fans.
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