Penny Lane, Allerton, Liverpool

 

Here I am at Penny Lane made famous by The Beatles song which was released in 1967. It was written by Paul McCartney on his piano in his new house, the lyric on two pieces of paper. It was done in response to John Lennon's affectionate "Strawberry Fields Forever." Both songs were released on a double “A” side record. Two catchy affectionate timeless song both sharing one 7" piece of plastic.

 

The lane is about a mile long and I drove down it in three minutes. The Sefton Park end was quiet with open fields but the other end, the Penny Lane area, was dense, busy and marked by the bus terminus mentioned in the song.

 

I parked up and got out for a walk round the area. Traffic was busy and the cafes and pubs were busy. I crossed the road to an empty ex-bus terminus building on an island. The song mentions the "shelter in the middle of the roundabout" and this is it. When John and Paul travelled to each other’s houses it took two buses with a change at this terminus. Sometimes they would meet here to board a bus into Liverpool city centre.

 

In their day the terminus included a purpose-built bus shelter, waiting room and toilets. In the 1980s it was bought privately and converted to the Sergeant Pepper's Bistro. It doesn’t look like it has been used for decades. When I passed it in July 2010 it was abandoned. In November 2015 it was still out of use. Was Paul sat in here when he jotted down a few lyrics? In the song "four of fish and finger pies" in the song is slang four-penny-worth of fish and chips while "finger pie" is parlance for sexual fondling. Did Paul or John eat chips at this terminus? Did they meet and grope some girls here?

 

I took a few photos. People sat in cars at red lights looked on with a passing interest that told they were accustomed to visiting Beatles geeks. I touched one of the walls. Who would have thought this decrepit building would be sang about in Studio 2 at Abbey Road, London on 29th December 1966?

 

In the row of shops was Tony Slavin’s barbershop. This used to be Bioletti’s mentioned in the lyric, "barber showing photographs of every head he's had the pleasure to know." Paul and his brother were taken here to have their hair cut.

 

Mmmm this part of Allerton was abuzz for a Sunday afternoon. It seemed a little trendy and buzzing around here, I thought; I’m sure it draws the students from the nearby universities student halls of residence. A woman with a foreign voice and three peers asked if I had a map so I wasn’t the only visiting geek. They were trying to find the L1 nucleus of the city but this was L18 a distant outpost. I’d have offered a lift but I had many graves to visit at Anfield Cemetery.

 

I got back to the car, put on a Beatles CD and had a coffee. I drove up Penny Lane wondering how many "Penny Lane" street signs had been stolen over the years and when was the last time a Beatle drove along it. When Paul met his latest wife surely she would have been curious to see where he’d grown up and written about?

 

I flicked manically through the CD to Penny Lane so I could listen to it while I was on it. This jaunty cheerful song was released in a jaunty cheery 1967 : England had the World Cup, class barriers were melting like ice cream, optimism was bubbling, and art, fashion, design and music were flowering in concert. Even my mum and dad decided to have another kid despite my older sister crying every single night for four years.

 

Penny Lane (Sefton Park end)

 

Penny Lane, November 2015…

 

 

The bus terminus which is the “shelter in the middle of the roundabout”…

 

 

Looking down Penny Lane from the bus terminus…

 

Note the bank on the right. The lyric is “on the corner is a banker with a motorcar”…

 

From the bus terminus you can see the barber shop (now Tony Slavin’s) which inspired the words, “barber showing photographs over every head he’d had the pleasure to know.”…

 

Tony Slavin’s barbershop was Bioletti’s when John and Paul were young lads. Paul’s dad his sons for haircuts here….