Travel Weekly senior editor David Cogswell took a Beatles tour
of Liverpool, England, with guide Sylvia McMurtry, a lifelong
resident who grew up in the Beatles' heyday. His report
LIVERPOOL, England -- This northern British city has long been a
vibrant port, a multicultural center that attracted people from all
over Europe because employment could be readily found on its busy
But to diehard music fans, Liverpool is best known as the
epicenter of a cultural phenomenon known as Beatlemania.
My tour guide, Sylvia McMurtry, was especially well-versed in
the history of the Beatles.
We had only a half-day, but for anyone who takes the Liverpool
tour, "Penny Lane" will never sound the same.
Contrary to popular myth, the Beatles did not spring from a
vacuum; their hometown provided a rich environment to nurture their
Liverpool has 140 minorities -- more Welsh than Cardiff, more
Scots than Aberdeen and more Irish than Dublin.
The city was the main processing point for emigrants sailing
from Europe to the New World and the receiving point for imports
from the Americas.
Liverpool teenagers learned American music from records brought
by U.S. sailors. When the Beatles were growing up, McMurtry said,
practically every kid had a guitar.
McMurtry's family lived near Woolton, the suburb where John Lennon
grew up. McMurtry said she probably saw the Beatles every time they
performed in Liverpool.
"It was my life," she said. Her world revolved around the bands
performing in a warehouse district that became a nightclub
We visited the Cavern Club on Mathew Street, where the Beatles
built their following.
The building that housed the basement nightclub has been torn
down and rebuilt, but many features of the original have been
We looked through the gate to Strawberry Field and drove down
Penny Lane, where McMurtry pointed out a barber shop, firehouse and
bank mentioned in the song.
The Liverpool Art College, which Lennon attended, stands next to
the Liverpool Institute, where Paul McCartney and George Harrison
Nearby Menlove Avenue was the "Long and Winding Road" that led
to the Lennon's former home, a charming suburban house where he
once lived with his Aunt Mimi.
"The stuff about Lennon as a working-class hero ... what was
that?" said McMurtry. "He was posh. His family lived in Woolton, a
lovely village, and had a business."
We next saw St. Peter's Parish Hall, where Lennon and McCartney
met, and visited McCartney's former home in Speke, now owned by the
McMurtry and other guides can be contacted through the
Merseyside Partnership's Jackie Wilson at (011) 44-151 237-3925 or
via e-mail at [email protected].
For more on Liverpool, visit the Merseyside Partnership on line
at www.visitliverpool.com; e-mail [email protected]; or call (011) 44-151
You also can contact the British Tourist Authority in New York
at (800) 462-2748 or visit www.travelbritain.org.