There were worldwide tributes to John Lennon marking the 30th anniversary of his murder on Dec. 9, 1980. In Liverpool, where The Beatles grew up and wrote about in the songs that changed the sound of music forever, Beatles history is a year-round affair.
Liverpool is a great place to visit, even if you are the rare person who is not a Beatles fan or John Lennon fan.
There are world class museums, including the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which documents Liverpool’s rich history as Europe’s dominant role for migration to the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Cunard and White Star Lines were headquartered here, and I was fascinated by artifacts from their ships Titanic and Lusitania.
Liverpool’s role in the slave trade, transporting more than 1.5 million African slaves between 1500 and 1865, is documented in the adjoining International Slavery Museum. Rodin’s famous sculpture The Kiss dominates the entrance. of the Liverpool outpost of London’s famed Tate Gallery.
The three museums are in a complex of 1850s warehouses on Albert Dock which has been converted into a visitor-friendly stretch of shops, galleries, restaurants and museum. The fourth museum here is the most popular of the group, despite the hefty admission charge of around $20 ($15 for children).
The Beatles Story museum traces the influence of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other 1950s rock and blues stars on the group that would become The Beatles. There’s a self-guided audio tour in nearly one dozen languages. Lennon’s sister narrates the English version. No narration is needed in the gallery room that showcases a white piano decorated with a single red rose and a framed photo of Lennon, while the loudspeaker plays Imagine, softly. It’s one of my favorite Beatles songs, and I stood transfixed, trying not to get choked up and teary when I visited recently.
Hop aboard a yellow minibus, not a yellow submarine, to visit the childhood homes of Sir Paul McCarthy and John Lennon, now both National Trust heritage properties.
Every music lover has to make a pilgramage to The Cavern Club on Matthew Street. The Beatles were just one of more than one thousand musicians and groups to have played here, and there still is live music here five nights a week. Outside, a “Wall of Fame” lists some of these golden oldies, from Richie Havens to Acker Bilk, the Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones. It’s a popular place for having your photo taken. I also made a special trip to visit to Penny Lane, and had my photo taken there, too.
The Cavern Club is just around the corner from the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, where rooms have a Beatles theme.
Take the ferry for a one-hour loop of both sides of the Mersey River, immortalized by the song Ferry Across the Mersey, which plays over the loudspeaker when the ferry leaves the dock in front of the baroque Cunard Building. No, that’s not a Beatles song — it was recorded by Gerry and the Pacemakers. One stop that will appeal to families is the Blue Planet Aquarium, featuring one of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels.
Talking about large — Liverpool’s Anglican Church is the largest and tallest in the U.K., and the 10-thousand pipe organ is the world’s largest.
Sports fans should time a visit to a home game of the immensely popular soccer team, the Liverpool Football Club. There also are stadium tours including a small museum where you can see European and world trophies.