The Beatles influenced a generation, not just in music but in fashion, lifestyle and thought. More than half a century since they burst on the scene, their influence is still being felt.
Recognizing the Beatles' significance, the National Trust, which is the caretaker of many of England's historic places, now has responsibility for two of the Beatles' boyhood homes.* Number 20 Forthlin Road, Paul McCartney's home was acquired by the Trust in 1995. Subsequently, when John Lennon's boyhood home, Mendips, came on the market, it was purchased by Yoko Ono Lennon and donated to the Trust.
Both houses are located in the Liverpool suburbs. Many of the Beatles tours that operate in Liverpool take people to these houses. However, you cannot go inside except on one of the National Trust's pre-arranged tours. Without this limitation, chaos would result to the detriment of the houses and the people who live in those neighborhoods.
The tours are limited to about a dozen people. If the groups were any larger, they would overwhelm the houses, which are not very big. These are mid-20th century family homes, not grand palaces. A dozen people is about all that can comfortably fit into their various rooms.
We gathered for the tour in the lobby of one of the hotels in downtown Liverpool. Boarding a minibus, we were driven about 20 minutes out into the suburbs. Along the way, we passed a number of places of interest to Beatles' fans such as Penny Lane. However, you have to know what you are looking at as there is no commentary. This is transportation, not a sightseeing tour. The minibus took us first to Mendips and then to 20 Forthlin Road. Afterwards, the minibus took us took us back into the city.
The visits to each of the houses follow a similar pattern. After the minibus drops you off, you are met by a guide who talks about the house and then gives a guided tour of the various rooms that are open to the public. Both of the guides that gave the tours when we visited were knowledgeable and had a wealth of stories about the Beatles. After the guided tours, there are a few minutes of free time in which you can walk around and return to any room that particularly interested you.
*It is our understanding that George Harrison's childhood home is still privately occupied and that Ringo Starr's home was demolished in an urban renewal project.
Above: Mendips, John Lennon's childhood home.
Below: Number 20 Forthlin Road, boyhood home of Paul McCartney.
You can take photographs of the front exteriors of the houses. However, no photography is allowed inside the houses or their back gardens. We were told this is primarily for security reasons. In addition, at 20 Forthlin Road, a number of copyrighted photographs by Paul's brother Mike McCartney are on display.
Although the two houses are within walking distance of each other, they were quite far apart socially. Mendips is in a middle class neighborhood. 20 Fothlin Road was in a working class council estate. Thus, even leaving aside their Beatles' connection, the two houses are of interest because they show the difference in lifestyle of the two classes in the mid-20th century.
John Lennon's Mendips is next.
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Cruise destinations - England - Liverpool - Inside The Beatles' Boyhood Homes - page one