SAVE Britain’s Heritage has submitted listing applications and written to the Secretary of State for Culture to call for official recognition of all four Beatles’ birthplaces in honour of the buildings’ importance to the band’s story and the nation’s cultural heritage.
image for illustration: The Beatles by EMI, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
…’ With a Little Help From Our Friends’…
The Beatles, best-selling musicians of all time, topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic last month with Now and Then – a staggering 60 years after their first single was released and 54 since their last UK No1.
This achievement – which set a record for the longest gap between UK number ones by any musical act – prompted SAVE Britain’s Heritage to reprise its efforts for all four birthplaces to be listed.
We have submitted fresh applications for the two houses and a maternity hospital in Liverpool which were the birthplaces of, respectively, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. (Paul McCartney’s birthplace, Walton Hospital, is already listed, but for its Victorian architecture, not its Beatles connection.)
With a Little Help From Our Friends, SAVE is arguing that the four landmarks should be listed for their “group significance” as tangible reminders of where it all began.
Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: “The Beatles are regarded as the most influential band in the history of global popular music. These buildings are a key part of their individual and collective story and every year people travel from all over the world to see them. Yet there is no official recognition that this is where it all started. We think it’s high time that changed. Our message to the government is: let these buildings into your heart.”
Jonathan Brown, the Liverpool planning and tourism expert who prepared the listing applications for SAVE, said: “Globally, the Fab Four are as synonymous with England as they are with Liverpool, with some tourism websites summarising our country as the ‘birthplace of Shakespeare and the Beatles’. With their remarkable return to the charts, SAVE is renewing its call that the birthplaces of all four Beatles now be listed in recognition of their outstanding and enduring historic, cultural and artistic interest. We would like this to happen rapidly, in part so the remaining band members and families can further appreciate the respect and affection in which they are held locally, nationally and internationally.”
SAVE’s three listing applications are for:
- Sir Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr)’s birthplace (7.7.40) 9 Madryn Street L8 3UT. This Victorian terrace house is one of 8,000 built by Welsh-born architect Richard Owens who has been described as one of “Liverpool’s most prolific and important architects”. As well as its Beatles significance, SAVE argues the house has further significance as the epicentre of our campaign to revive the Welsh Streets and avert Liverpool council’s demolition of hundreds of attractive terraced houses, winning in 2015 what the Times called “the planning battle of the century so far”.
- George Harrison’s birthplace (25.2.43) 12 Arnold Grove L15 8HP. Red-brick Victorian terrace house, where Harrison spent the first seven years of his life.
- John Lennon’s birthplace (9.10.40) Oxford Street Maternity Hospital L7 7BN. This fine early 20th-century classically inspired red-brick building opened in 1926. In 1983 the celebrated Walton sextuplets were born there, the world’s first surviving female sextuplets. The hospital closed in 1995 and has since been respectfully converted into student accommodation.
Sir Paul McCartney’s birthplace (18.6.42) Walton Hospital L9 7LJ, a former Victorian workhouse with an imposing clock tower, is already listed (grade II) for its architectural merit. The Beatles link is not mentioned in the listing description.
Brown added: “The group value of retaining all four of the birthplaces along with the later childhood homes is already clear, not least from the thousands of visitors they receive, and listing would protect against any future folly such as the Pathfinder programme which made demolition of Ringo’s birthplace official local policy as recently as 2016.”
Some Beatles buildings have already been lost, including the original Cavern Club (where the Beatles played their first gig) and Strawberry Field (the children’s home close to Lennon’s house in Woolton which inspired the song Strawberry Fields Forever was demolished in the 1970s after a fire).