Strawberry Field, 1967
I live only a stone’s throw from Mendips, John Lennon’s home on Menlove Avenue. I moved into the area some 30 years ago and have watched with amazement how the number of people visiting has grown in recent years. In the late 1970s, I sold all of my Beatles’ memorabilia thinking their day had passed and it was time to cash in. A bad mistake! My fliers and programmes have shot up in value 20-fold and the passion for the Fab Four goes on and on. In the early days, it was just the occasional Japanese tourist wandering along, looking bemused at the unmarked semi. Now it is coach and taxi tours from early morning to late at night. The Beatles might have left Liverpool in their first flush of fame but the city has certainly benefited from them ever since.
Strawberry Field(s) is just behind Mendips and was John Lennon’s childhood playground. The top photograph was taken in 1967 when, perhaps, the group’s most haunting record was released. John would have been more than familiar with the austere Gothic pile, for it was a Salvation Army home from 1934. Every year, they would hold a garden party to which the young John would eagerly look forward to. In reality it was a grim place to bring up children and it was demolished in the 1970s and replaced by a more family friendly home (although only slightly in my personal experience). That too was eventually closed in 2005 and is now just a meeting place for the Salvation Army.
The nearest the public get is the splendid set of gates, splattered with graffiti by visitors from around the world. The view is largely of undergrowth and trees and is rather romantic. Had the original house survived, it would have added a rather melancholic background. However, I am not one to regret its passing. Like many other old children’s homes such as its once close neighbour Woolton Vale, it hid much sadness behind its doors.