England // The Northwest //

The Beatles trail

Mathew Street, ten minutes’ walk west of Lime Street Station, is now a little enclave of Beatles nostalgia, most of it bogus and typified by the Cavern Walks Shopping Centre, with a bronze statue of the boys in the atrium. The Cavern club, where the band was first spotted by Brian Epstein, saw 275 Beatles’ gigs between 1961 and 1963; it closed in 1966 and was partly demolished in 1973, though a latter-day successor, the Cavern Club at 10 Mathew St, complete with souvenir shop, was rebuilt on the original site. The Cavern Pub, across the way, boasts a coiffed Lennon mannequin lounging against the wall and an exterior “Wall of Fame” highlighting the names of all the bands who appeared at the club between 1957 and 1973 as well as brass discs commemorating every Liverpool chart-topper since 1952 – the city has produced more UK No. 1 singles than any other. There’s more Beatlemania at The Beatles Shop, 31 Mathew St, which claims to have the largest range of Beatles gear in the world.

For a personal and social history, head to the Albert Dock for The Beatles Story, which traces the band’s rise from the early days to their disparate solo careers. Then it’s on to the two houses where John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up. Both 20 Forthlin Rd, home to the McCartney family from 1955 to 1964, and the rather more genteel Mendips, where Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George between 1945 and 1963, are only accessible on pre-booked National Trust minibus tours , which run from both the city centre  and Speke Hall, seven miles south . The experience is disarmingly intimate, whether you’re sitting in John Lennon’s bedroom – which has its original wallpaper – on a replica bed looking out, as he would have done, onto his front lawn, or simply entering Paul’s tiny room and gazing at pictures of his childhood.

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