Strawberry Field open to tourists

No longer will the locked red gates that fence in the famous Strawberry Field prevent the public from playing in the grounds immortalised by John Lennon and The Beatles.

“It was on these grounds that a young John Lennon, before Beatles fame, came to play, reflect and escape the post-War streets of Woolton,” says the Strawberry Field website.

“Those days spent playing in The Salvation Army grounds shaped Lennon and inspired his work within The Beatles as an adult. Strawberry Field was later immortalised in the famous song, Strawberry Fields Forever, where he explored those more innocent days of escape that could counter the later complexities of a life lived in the public gaze.”

The locked gates have never deterred dedicated Beatles fans from peeking through at Lennon’s childhood haunt. The Liverpool tourist board estimated that about 60,000 visitors visited last year alone.

However, the once overgrown grounds and house now owned by the Salvation Army have been opened to the public as a sort of museum, dedicated to the famous hit song and the life of Lennon, as well as the history of the Salvos.

“Much like The Cavern Club, Penny Lane, The Grapes and The Beatles Story, Strawberry Field is a jewel in Liverpool’s Beatles’ crown,” the website says. However, in spite of the hundreds of thousands of tourists that come to Liverpool each year, this important part of local history has never been open to the public. Now the famous red gates will open again not only to the public for the first time but [also] open up new opportunities for young people with learning disabilities.”

The museum is housed in a ‘sleek, modern, light-filled building’, says the Guardian, and is a stark contrast to the original Gothic mansion that stood there when Lennon was a young boy.

Inside is an interactive exhibition that reveals details of Lennon’s childhood through to the writing and recording of Strawberry Fields, through archival footage, multimedia and interviews with Paul McCartney, George Martin and Julia Baird, his younger half-sister.

Ms Baird, who is also honorary president of the Strawberry Field project, said the grounds of the home had been a ‘sanctuary’ for the musician as a youngster.

“I suppose as children we all have somewhere that’s a bit ours, a bit special. It might be a little hidey-hole under the stairs, or it might be up an oak tree, but it’s somewhere we take ourselves. It seems from the song that this was John’s special place,” she said.

“The first time I visited John in New York I was struck just how closely his gothic Dakota Apartment building resembled the old Strawberry Field mansion. Perhaps he was searching for another sanctuary.”

Have you ever visited Strawberry Fields? Now that it is actually open, would you stop by for a visit?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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