Beatles inspiration Strawberry Field to undergo revamp

Former children's home that inspired the hit to be redeveloped by Salvation Army.

Fans of the Beatles still visit the site and write messages on the walls to the entrance.
Fans of the Beatles still visit the site and write messages on the walls to the entrance. PA

The former children's home that inspired one of the Beatles' greatest hits Strawberry Fields Forever, is to be redeveloped by the Salvation Army.

Plans for the historic site, where John Lennon played as a child, include a training and work placements hub for young people with learning disabilities and a place for spiritual exploration.

There will also be an exhibition exploring the history of the building, the song and John Lennon's early life spent at Strawberry Field.

Today the charity launched a public appeal for funds - 50 years to the day since Strawberry Fields Forever was released in the UK as a double-A side single with Penny Lane.

The site in Woolton, south Liverpool, is close to where John Lennon grew up with his aunt Mimi, after being handed over to her care by his mother.

John Lennon played in the grounds of Strawberry Field as a child which later inspired one of his greatest hits.
John Lennon played in the grounds of Strawberry Field as a child which later inspired one of his greatest hits. PA

The woods around the children's home were said to be a place of peace and refuge from Lennon's troubled childhood, where he went to play with friends, climb trees and dream hours away.

Lennon would also visit the home for its annual garden party and his early musical experiences were listening to the Salvation Army band at the events.

Major Drew McCombe, divisional leader for The Salvation Army, North West said: "Strawberry Field is special in the hearts of many people in Liverpool, the UK and across the world.

He added: "We at The Salvation Army are aiming to redevelop the site to do justice to the many people that have been supported by the children's home or formed a connection with the iconic Beatles song.

The original children's house was demolished and replaced with a smaller purpose-built home, which opened in the early 1970s. It closed in 2005 and is now a church and prayer centre.

The famous red wrought-iron gates marking its entrance were removed and replaced with replicas in May 2011.

It is still a popular stop for fans of the Beatles who pose for photos and write messages on the stone gate posts.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said the work of the charity to redevelop the building for young people "are to be commended".

Peter Hooton, chairman of The Beatles Legacy Group, added: "I can think of no better way Strawberry Field could be re-developed in such an innovative way, which gives hope and job opportunities to vulnerable young people, whilst making a valuable and worthwhile contribution to The Beatles Legacy in Liverpool."

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