Thursday, August 11, 2011


 Liverpool, UK is a very pleasant place to visit in May. This is a shot of the waterfront taken from Albert Dock. I chose it as the opening shot because it shows Liverpool as it is: a mixture of old and new.
 The red and white striped building was the White Star headquarters during the 1900s. It was outside this building where relatives of Titanic passengers waited after the ship sank. One can almost feel the sadness attached to the site.
 But there are other historic aspects to the city also. Taxi drivers never failed to tell us the stories about that history, including how it was the largest importer of cotton in the world during the 1800s. The close ties developed with the south from that trade led to contracts to build all the Confederate ships during the Civil War. Yes, they were all built in Liverpool
 They also all told us about the Liverpool Blitz, the repeated and heavy bombing of the city during WW2 by the German Luftwaffe. In one night, over 1600 Liverpool residents died. Over 4000 died in the entire blitz, second only to the 30,000 lost in London. Liverpool was no doubt targeted because of it shipbuilding capabilities. We were also told that Eisenhower and Churchill met in a secret bunker here to develop war plans.
 But the reason we visited Liverpool had to do with another piece of the city's history: this is where the Beatles originated. We were visiting London and wanted to see a bit of the rest of England, but need an activity to do it with. We decided this would be our Beatles Tour vacation. And that meant we had to visit Liverpool! This building on Albert Dock houses the Beatles Experience exhibit...which we never went to, by the way.
 We spent two nights and one full day in Liverpool and it was jam-packed. We would recommend three nights and two full days to future visitors actually. Our one full day had the National Trust Tour of the Lennon and McCartney homes in the morning, and a Fab Four Taxi Tour in the afternoon. Both were excellent five star activites, and we recommend them to you, too.
 But we missed out on seeing some of the other things Liverpool has to offer, so if we had to do it over again, we would set a more relaxed pace and spend two full days there. The city is well kept, clean, friendly, and safe. Yes I know I said that in a prior post and on the very next day, the riots from London's Tottenham neighborhood spread to Liverpool at the corner of Lodge Lane and Smithdown Road, but there are a few idiots in every city. It didn't lower our opinion of Liverpool one bit.

 This in North John Street in Liverpool, very close to Mathew Street where the Cavern Club is located. See other post about the Cavern Club.
 The Rigby Building on Water Street.
 Knowing that Freddy Mercury was a huge Beatles fan who visited, and actually lived here for a bit, to see the sites, I can't help but wonder if this building gave him the idea for his band name.
 Looking west on Chapel Street, one gets the feeling it was pretty windy, and it was. We were just thankful it wasn't raining, which is what the forecast had called for. In addition, the volcano in Iceland erupted while we were there, so our eyes were glued on the news for the next few days to ensure our flight from Heathrow a few days hence was not canceled.

  This is Lime Street Station, where we arrived from and departed to London. It is about a mile from our hotel.
 A random pub somewhere in the city.
 Liverpool has just finished raising a large section of downtown and building a huge shopping center called Liverpool One. It was so new when we visited that it wasn't even shown on Google Maps yet.
 But it was huge! This is one of the things we didn't get to spend time doing since we only scheduled a day in Liverpool.
 The Ted Baker store in Liverpool One. Nice shirts!

 The National Trust Tour, which we highly recommend, started at the Il Barista Lounge in the Jurys Inn located on Albert Dock. Head left up the ramp...

...and there it is! We got there way early since we hate to be late.

But this gave us time to relax, gather our thoughts, and think about what we were about to experience. And we were excited.

There were about 10 people on the tour with us, and they were all Americans! I would bet a very high percentage of Beatles tourists are. As a group we figured this out on the bus over to Mendips. As one of the 20 something yo sisters (who were taking the tour by themselves) said when we figured it out, "what dorks we are". How true. But we are dorks having a whole lot of fun!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Beatles in Liverpool: Mendips

The crown jewel of the Beatles sites in Liverpool is Mendips - the home owned by George and Mimi Smith, John's aunt, where John Lennon grew up.  It is located at 251 Menlove Avenue in Liverpool.  Here is my wife in front of Mendips.
 John's mother Julia ceded care of John to Mimi when John was 5, in 1945.  John continued to live here until 1963 when he was 22, though he did live in an apartment near the art school for awhile.  John's bedroom is located directly above the foyer.  George and Mimi's bedroom is the larger window to the right.  The foyer has quite an echo, and the guide told us that this is where John learned to love the way his voice sounded with an echo added.
 as you will see at the bottom of this post, this home looks virtually identical to the way it did in the 1950s.  There is a third bedroom towards the back of the second story that George and Mimi rented to male college students.  There were several beds in the room and Mimi would make breakfast and dinner for them downstairs.
 The National Trust has been working hard to restore the original plantings that were here during John's time at Mendips.  The house was named Mendips by the developer - each new home built by the developer was given a name prior to sale.
 George died on the stairs in Mendips in 1955, while John was away visiting relatives in Scotland.  John, 14 at the time, learned of the death upon his return.  This made it even harder for Mimi to make ends meet, she she rented out her bedroom to additional college students and took to sleeping downstairs.  There were so many students that breakfast and dinner were done in shifts.
 The front yard in Mendips, just to the side of the driveway.
 The other side of the front yard.
 House just south of Mendips.
 Looking south down the street from Mendips.  On July 15, 1958 John's mother Julia was in the center divide which was covered with hedges to cover unused tram tracks.  She stepped in front of a vehicle driven by an off-duty constable who was learning to drive and died instantly.  John was 17.
 Looking north from Mendips.
 Mendips came up for sale in 2002 and was offered to the National Trust, who refused purchase.  Yoko Ono then purchased Mendips, restored it, and donated it to the National Trust.  Thank you, Yoko!  I can't imagine losing this gem.
 The exterior of Mendips is now painted.  I suspect it was not painted when John lived here - it was likely done in exposed stone as are many of the homes in liverpool, like this one.  See an old photo below for John standing in front of Mendips.

 Aunt Mimi in the living room - probably in the 1960s or 1970s.
 Yoko Ono in the restored living room.
 The restored kitchen at Mendips.

 John's bedroom over the foyer.

 George and Mimi's bedroom.
 The only bathroom in the house.
 John in front of Mendips.  See the exposed stone exterior on the house?
 John and Aunt Mimi.
 Stan and John.
 Aunt Mimi and John.