Since I was about seven and heard the perfect Ticket To Ride I’ve been a Beatles tragic. Got all the music, read all the books, seen all the docos, all that stuff. I found spending a couple of days in Liverpool quite odd because there’s cheesy Beatles-y stuff BLOODY EVERYWHERE and it serves in the end to cheapen the experience.
However my faith was restored on our last day in town when we visited the National Trust managed childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Both houses have been immaculately restored by and are managed by Britain’s National Trust and have live-in caretakers who give guided tours.
The house where John Lennon lived for most of his childhood with his Aunt Mimi has been restored to a late 1950s condition, as it would have been when John was a teenager. Mendips was a bit larger and leafier that I expected after recently seeing Sam Taylor-Wood’s cool Lennon coming-of-age film Nowhere Boy (apparently the combination of traffic noise and hordes of sightseers who visit daily meant it wasn’t going to work as a location and a similar house on a quieter street was used instead).
The wonderful curator/guide Colin was a welcome relief from the ubiquitous audio headsets and really communicates what the house would have been like in those days, how Mimi would have felt about the Quarrymen rehearsing in the best front room while her student lodgers applied themselves to their studies.
20 Forthlin Road
Not far way from Mendips the McCartney’s childhood home at Forthlin Road shows they were much less well-off. It’s a much smaller terrace house with tiny kitchen and living dining rooms. Forthlin Road’s guide John suits the house perfectly too with his dry Scouse sense of humour (although you could tell that he’d told some of those jokes about Paul McCartney’s bedroom hundreds of times). Forthlin Road also has lots of photographs taken by Paul’s younger brother Michael McCartney – Paul climbing the drainpipe to get in the first floor bathroom window, father Jim in the living room with a gold record and piles of Beatles fan mail stacked on the piano, John and Paul writing I Saw Her Standing There with acoustic guitars.
Liverpool has lots of ‘Beatles Tours’ that take you to lots of dubious ‘significant sites’, including these two houses. However, the only way to enter these houses is by booking via the National Trust.