Iím getting to know the districts of Liverpool quite well and Woolton is a favourite. John Lennon lived here at Mendips on Menlove Avenue with this Aunty Mimi (his mum was knocked down and killed on this avenue.) For some reason I grew up thinking he was from a poor family but it's an upmarket and leafy district with broad lanes, old houses and mature trees. Here I am in Woolton where John Lennon did a gig with The Quarrymen (and Paul McCartney first saw him.) It's a play area now in the† corner of a the grounds at Bishop Martin Primary School.
In the past I've visited the school at weekends when it was locked up but didn't scale the fence for fear of alarms. Recently I called on a Tuesday and infants were playing out. I tried the tall gate and it opened but a couple of teachers looked up and I cowardly backed off. I'm not sure scruffy smelly ugly men like me can just walk around school grounds taking photos when children are running around. I waited for playtime to end, entered the gate and took a quick photo.
It was here on Saturday 6th July 1957 where The Quarrymen performed their skiffle music. St Peter's Church is next door and they were holding a summer fete. John had formed the band with his friends from school, taking the name from their school Quarry Bank School - or a line in their school song, "Quarrymen, old before our birth / Straining each muscle and sinew".† That Saturday the band had first played on the back of a moving flatbed lorry as it slowly moved through Woolton. They were behind a procession of floats carrying the Rose Queen, Morris dancers, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Guides and Cubs. Nowadays there's a road cut between the school and church but in 1957 there was no way they lorry could get up there. The Quarrymen moved to a permanent stage in a field just over a hedge from the churchyard (not sure who owened it then though it was probably part of the church grounds.)
Most of Woolton turned out that day. In the afternoon there was a display by the City of Liverpool Police Dogs then The Quarrymen started playing at 4:15pm. Johnís mum rabidly cheered on her son who had slicked-up his hair like his idol Elvis Presley. Paul McCartney arrived when they were playing Come Go with Me. Afterward the gig Paul and John chatted for a few minutes (Paul recalls John's breath smelling of illegal beer) and then the band had to set up their instruments in the church hall for an 8pm concert (Paul left and didnít see this.) There was a thunderstorm that night which made the church lights go out temporarily.
After the show John walked home with a band member and they discussed the encounter with Paul (who had showed how he tuned his guitar and played it.) They considered asking Paul to join the band. Two weeks later this was put to Paul who said he would join following a family holiday at Butlins holiday camp in Filey. At the time Paul was attending the Liverpool Institute and recommended a 14-year-old student George Harrison who joined in early 1958. In early 1960 John recruited his art school pal Stuart Sutcliffe and they became the Silver Beetles before settling on The Beatles in August 1960 when they first performed in Hamburg.
Anyway, here I am where it happened. That Tuesday morning I walked up the private road to the school. I got chatting to a man building a wall by the road and he clocked the camera on my chest. I said this was where Paul and John met but this local lad was Beatles-immune. I strolled around the cemetery at the back of the church and heard music inside. Previously when I've arrived here on Sunday mornings I've often seen the priest shaking hands with his flock as they leave the Sunday morning service. Right now an Oriental couple appeared and I got chatting to them. Had they come to see the famous grave? Yes, they were delighted when I led them to it - the Eleanor Rigby headstone in the cemetery at the front. Their brows creased and they looked puzzled. No they wanted to see where Bob Paisley the legendary Liverpool football manager was buried. I led them to the back cemetery again, showed them Bob's grave and took a photo of them on their camera (brown teeth, better to have kept the mouths closed.)
The guitar John is playing in these photographs sold for auction for £155,000 (he bought it for £10.)
The Quarrymen had performed on the back of lorry before arriving at the church...
In the front cemetery is the Eleanor Rigby grave. You've just go to touch it....