Two names that are very familiar to Beatles fans. Saturday 7th July was my birthday, and I visited the two Beatles houses, Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road a day after the fiftieth anniversary: “6th July nineteen fifty seven, St. Peter’s Parish Church Fete. Seventeen year-old John Lennon meets fifteen year-old Paul McCartney.” See my story Nobody Knows a Damned Thing.
Liverpool is an hour’s drive down the M56 from my mum and dad’s in Stockport in the north west of England.
Lennon’s 1930s suburban semi, Mendips, on Menlove Avenue, Woolton, is beautifully restored by the National Trust, from the Izal toilet paper, to the coloured glass windows, to the smell of unfiltered cigarettes.
This restoration is not a fairy land creation. It’s 20th century British suburbia. It is perfect.
This is me standing outside the porch, or vestibule, of John Lennon’s house on my birthday Saturday July 7 2007. You can see Lennon’s blue plaque, the front door, and the coloured glass leaded windows exactly as they were when Lennon lived there. The Quarrymen practiced in the vestibule when Aunt Mimi told them to stop playing in the living room, to the right in the picture.
Woolton is to south Liverpool what Stockport, where I grew up, is to Manchester, a huge prosperous 20th century suburban sprawl of semis and more recent detached houses 7-8 miles south of the city centre. Lennon lived on a major fault line in the British class system in the middle of the twentieth century. It’s an enduring powerhouse of art and attitude.
In the second picture of Lennon’s house you can see a tiny part of next door showing how it has progressed into the 21st century with new UPVC imitation coloured leaded windows. Other people on the tour were taking photos as this was the only opportunity for photographs.
McCartney’s house, 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton is a couple of miles away from Mendips in an area of houses built by the British government, Liverpool Corporation, in the 1930s.
My gran’s house in Westcott Avenue, Withington, Manchester was exactly the same as McCartney’s house.
It’s been perfectly recreated by the National Trust, complete with English Electric cooker. McCartney’s house has a sense of fun and warmth.
Its carefree, lived-in feel contrasted to Aunt Mimi’s neat and tidy Mendips. McCartney’s bedroom has cracked lino on the floor.
You can see the restored doors, windows, and guttering. The roof gutter joins onto next door’s brighter new guttering.
Both houses are full of energy, life and sadness, and are major museums to British 20th century society.