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Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool (Part II)

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tours Liverpool.

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

Before reading you might want to start with my article:

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool (Part I).

May 2019. What an incredible morning we’d had driving around Liverpool with Ian Doyle and his Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour. We’d seen Ringo Starr’s childhood home in Admiral Grove and visited Sefton Park Hotel, where Stuart Sutcliffe lived during his Liverpool Art College days. Moreover, we’d driven through Penny Lane with its Macca-autographed sign and stopped for a look at the famous barbershop.

Newcastle Road Liverpool Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

Now, Dear Prudence was turning onto Newcastle Road before coming to a gentle stop outside number 9number 9…. number 9. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. This suburban, red brick terrace house was John Lennon’s first childhood home. He lived here between 1940 and 1946 with his mother Julia.

John Lennon's first childhood home Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

These days Yoko Ono owns the property. She bought the place in 2013, though reports at the time stated the owner was “an anonymous American”. Yoko was always a crafty one.

However, it wasn’t until 2018 that Yoko actually got round to seeing the place for herself. She swung by for a quick visit during a break from promotional duties at The Double Fantasy Exhibition in The Museum of Liverpool. It was Yoko herself who added the Imagine Peace tiles to the house steps.

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

Mendips 251 Menlove Avenue Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour

Mendips. 251 Menlove Avenue, Liverpool.

When John was five years old, Julia sent him away to live with his aunt Mimi and her husband George. They lived in this pretty home at 251 Menlove Avenue. Affectionately known as Mendips, this is the house John lived in for seventeen years until he was 22.

This was where he learned to play guitar, though his strict aunt forbade him to practice in the house. “Playing the guitar is all very well John”, she told him, on more than one occasion. “But you’ll never make a living at it.”

251 Menlove Avenue Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

Despite this, Paul McCartney claims at least one song came out of these four walls. Paul says one evening they laid down an early version of I’ll Get You, which eventually ended up as the b-side to She Loves You.

John Lennon with his Aunt Mimi Menlove Avenue Liverpool

John and Mimi at Mendips.

Yoko Ono purchased the house in 2002 before promptly handing it over to the National Trust. They’ve since restyled the interior with an authentic 1950s look and opened it up for viewings, by appointment only.

“When John’s house came up for sale I wanted to preserve it for the people of Liverpool. And John Lennon and Beatles fans all over the world.”

Yoko Ono.

251 Menlove Avenue Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

While Lennon’s time at Mendips was a mostly happy one, the site also stands as a testament to one of the saddest days of his life. On the 15th of July 1958 his mother Julia came to pay one of her near daily visits.

John Lennon with his mother Julia

John and Julia.

Just moments after she left, Julia was struck and killed by a car driven by an off-duty policeman. Her death traumatised Lennon, who descended into depression, alcoholism and sporadic outbursts of aggression. His mother’s passing finally ended up in a number of John’s songs, including Julia and My Mummy’s Dead.

137 Gateacre Park Drive Beatles Tour Liverpool

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

“I don’t often include this one” said Ian, turning Dear Prudence onto a leafy lane. We had arrived at Gateacre Drive, the taxi rumbling to a gradual stop in front of number 137.

I’d certainly never heard of this house, bought by John for his two half sisters Julia and Jackie. Following the death of their father Bobby Dykins (also in a road accident), John was dismayed to hear that the girls were subsequently living with their Aunt Harriet, her husband Norman and son David. All five crammed under one roof in a small two bedroom cottage.

Julia and Jackie Baird John Lennon's half sisters

John’s half sisters Julia (left) and Jackie.

It was 1967 and Lennon was, by this time, a millionaire. Hence he stepped in to purchase a three bedroom property for his half sisters on Gateacre Drive. Furthermore, he told them to furnish the place however they wished and simply send him the bills.

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at 137 Gateacre Drive Liverpool.

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

In 1969 John visited the house he bought for Julia and Jackie. Unfortunately, their stay was not a happy one. As the story goes, John’s extended family were not fond of Yoko, who they found standoffish and fussy with her strict macrobiotic diet.

A persistent rumour about their stay is that one of John’s half sisters told Yoko she was ugly. While we’ll probably never know exactly what happened, later events in 1991 are very telling. This was when the family discovered that John had neglected to secure the property in their name. Consequently, in accordance to Lennon’s will, the house moved back into Yoko’s hands.

Yoko Ono.

Don’t **** with Yoko.

A lengthy back and forth between Yoko’s lawyers and the family in Liverpool ensued. But in the end Yoko emerged victorious and donated the property to The Salvation Army. Sources close to the family revealed that Yoko offered Jackie and Julia money if they needed it, but that the girls rejected this.

George Harrison childhood home Liverpool

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

Next on the Beatles’ homes trail was 174 Mackets Lane, George Harrison’s house from October 1962 to November 1963. The Harrisons moved about a fair bit during George’s youth and this was actually his third city home.

Young George Harrison black and white photo

George Harrison: The quiet Beatle.

As a teen George had a job at the local butcher and continued to live in the house during the early days of Beatlemania. Of all the Beatle childhood homes I saw during the tour, this was the most unloved, with a rusty old gate and overgrown garden.

The Beatles In Liverpool.

George Harrison fan mail 174 Mackets Lane Liverpool.

Fan mail arrives on George’s 21st birthday.

This brilliant photo shows how it took three postmen to deliver five giant crates of fan mail to the Harrison family home on George’s 21st birthday on the 25th of February 1964. The constant barrage of fan and media attention eventually led George to buy his parents a larger and more private bungalow in the suburbs of nearby Warrington in 1965.

Beatles Tour Liverpool

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

It was quiet when Ian parked in Forthlin Road, the street Paul McCartney moved into in April 1956 while he was still in senior school. As we jumped out of Dear Prudence I was struck by how quiet it was that afternoon. Just myself, Ian, Steppers and a local man walking by with a t-shirt that read: STILL HATE THATCHER.

Paul McCartney's childhood home in Liverpool

Forthlin Road, Liverpool.

The National Trust describes 20 Forthlin Road as “The Birthplace of The Beatles”. After all, this is where Lennon and McCartney came up with a chunk of their early compositions.

Luckily for them, Paul’s dad was much more chilled out than Aunt Mimi. Thus they could come and go as they pleased. Among the tunes John and Paul came up with here are One After 909, I’ll Follow the Sun and Hello Little Girl.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon at 20 Forthlin Road working on I Saw Her Standing There.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon at 20 Forthlin Road.

Gliding down Liverpool’s streets once again and suddenly the stereo kicked into life. This time it was the sublime Eleanor Rigby. Fittingly, we were on our way to the the suburb of Woolton, home to St. Peter’s Church, its graveyard and a very famous headstone.

“Aaaaah, look at all the lonely people”. 

St. Peter's Church Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour Liverpool

St. Peter’s Church.

Paul McCartney first met John Lennon on Saturday the 6th of July 1957 in the church hall. John was about to play live with his group The Quarrymen when a mutual friend, Ivan Vaughn, introduced him to Paul.

Lennon was immediately impressed. First, McCartney showed him an enlightening technique for tuning his guitar. Then Paul proceeded to perform excellent renditions of Eddie Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock and Gene Vincent’s Be-Bop-a-Lula. That first meeting may have only lasted twenty minutes, but it was enough to make Lennon invite McCartney to join his group.

Eleanor Rigby grave Liverpool.

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

Strolling through St. Peter’s pretty graveyard, Ian expertly guided us towards the headstone of a certain Eleanor Rigby. For years I believed McCartney wrote the song after discovering the grave. But Paul says the headstone at St Peter’s church is merely incidental. Really? 

Mad Day Out Beatles Taxi Tour, Liverpool.

Eleanor Bron English actress.

Eleanor Bron.

Rather, Macca, insists he composed the track with a fictitious character in mind. He went with the name Eleanor as a quiet tribute to the actress Eleanor Bron, who had appeared alongside The Beatles in their 1965 movie Help! Rigby, he says, was the name of a wine store he’d once visited in Bristol. A curious end to an exceptional day discovering Liverpool’s fascinating Beatles spots.

Best Beatles Taxi Tour in Liverpool.

My Mad Day Out with Ian Doyle’s Beatles Taxi Tours was the definitive highlight of my trip to Liverpool. To find out more, have a look at his website.

We took the three hour Rickenbacker tour priced at £70 for the taxi. That’s £35 each, not much more than The Magical Mystery Bus tour, which typically goes for £20pp.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

For more on the greatest rock band in history, check out my other articles on The Beatles In Liverpool. Alternatively, have a read about my visit to Abbey Road in London. Maybe read my review of The White Album.

Like this? have a read of my travel reports from around Liverpool.

Or maybe search further afield with my articles from all around England.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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27 Comments

  • Little Miss Traveller

    Such interesting details about the life of the Beatles Leighton. Just adored those wicker baskets for delivering the fan mail, so much nicer than the standard plastic tubs used nowadays! Have a great day. Marion

    June 1, 2021 - 11:49 am Reply
    • Leighton

      A different world back then eh? Thanks for following this series Marion.

      June 1, 2021 - 11:56 am Reply
  • Lookoom

    I understand that seeing the places where the Beatles started brings back memories. If I ever get the chance to visit Liverpool, I’ll have to brush up on my Beatles things beforehand. Thanks for this interesting article.

    June 1, 2021 - 12:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Glad you appreciate these articles. Not for everyone I guess, depending on how deeply one likes to delve into the lives of others.

      June 1, 2021 - 12:41 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    I’ve learned so much about the earlier years of The Beatles through this ‘taxi-tour’ you had … I can fully understand how excited you were to do this trip. And I love the photo of George’s fan mail he received on his 21st … can you imagine 😁.

    June 1, 2021 - 1:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Very kind of you to say. It makes all the considerable work putting these articles together worth it. Just one more Beatles related post to come, thanks for following!

      June 1, 2021 - 1:28 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    Another fascinating post. Jist goes to show that famous people come from humble beginnings and can pull themselves up by the bootstraps. Whatever we think of Yoko, she did love John and still takes good care of his memory. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    June 1, 2021 - 2:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Agreed Allan on all fronts. Yoko is a fascinating, complex character for sure. The deeper you dive into her background and role in the Beatles story, the harder to decipher she becomes. But as you say there’s no doubting her genuine love for John during and indeed after the relationship. Thanks for commenting.

      June 1, 2021 - 2:31 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Another excellent look at this tour. I was actually quite surprised that the amount of letters being delivered to George in that one picture was so much less than I would have guessed. But I love the faces of those delivering them, they seem just as giddy to get to deliver the letters as probably the people who wrote them. 🙂

    June 1, 2021 - 4:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The photo of the mail delivery seems to be everyone’s favourite. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

      June 1, 2021 - 4:34 pm Reply
  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    Brilliant stuff mate, love the whole idea of that tour with Prudence. And handy that you didn’t come across Rita during the trip …….

    June 1, 2021 - 4:54 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha I actually laughed out loud there. Thanks for taking time out of your travels to read this one!

      June 1, 2021 - 5:17 pm Reply
  • nickreeves

    Excellent work!
    I particularly enjoy the photo of the posties delivering George’s 21st birthday cards!

    June 1, 2021 - 7:42 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Nick! Must have taken the Harrisons weeks to get through all that.

      June 1, 2021 - 7:45 pm Reply
      • nickreeves

        🙂 Yes! But all things must pass

        June 1, 2021 - 8:06 pm
      • Leighton

        Boom boom!

        June 1, 2021 - 8:09 pm
  • Monkey's Tale

    What a great tour, I feel like I visited those places with you, singing along 🙂

    June 1, 2021 - 10:22 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Glad you enjoyed the Mad Day Out Maggie!

      June 1, 2021 - 10:24 pm Reply
  • Petra

    This looks cool! I went to the Beatles museum in Liverpool but not this

    June 1, 2021 - 11:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The Beatles Story is a really cool museum, glad you got to see that too. Thanks for reading!

      June 1, 2021 - 11:57 pm Reply
  • Nic

    This post is an absolute delight for a Beatles fan like myself. I grew up listening to them and I believe to this day that their music helped me to learn English growing up 😀 when I visited Liverpool, I visited the museum which is definitely fantastic and did a Beatles Bus Tour. Unfortunately, it was so pouring for most of the duration of the tour, which made it harder to step outside of the bus to take any decent photos. Still, it was a great experience… but surely a taxi tour seems a lot more comfortable and personal 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    June 2, 2021 - 4:53 pm Reply
  • Memo

    You are truly a consummate Beatles fan! It must have been beyond a memorable experience to see all of that history on one day. I never will understand the John and Yoko story. This just added more to my sense of befuddlement.

    June 2, 2021 - 5:30 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Memo. My next (and final) Beatles related post focuses on just that, the John and Yoko story. Prepare for an upward journey on the befuddleometer.

      June 2, 2021 - 5:45 pm Reply
  • salsaworldtraveler

    This is the perfect tour for Beatles fans. I learned a lot about their beginnings.

    June 4, 2021 - 9:46 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for catching up John, appreciate your contributions to the threads.

      June 5, 2021 - 12:04 am Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    A peek into the early lives of the fab four, very interesting! I most enjoyed the stories about specific songs. I’m with you about Eleanor Rigby, but I wouldn’t have thought she was married with such an extensive family.

    June 6, 2021 - 6:41 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Great to hear from you Ruth, yes certainly a far cry from a lonely spinster buried alone. Thanks for reading!

      June 6, 2021 - 6:44 pm Reply

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