Vandalised originals swing into Beatles museum

IT’S not exactly an official Beatles Day in Liverpool today, though there are two big events surrounding the Fab Four competing for attention.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with a whole programme of happenings across the city and journalists bussed in from around the world.

Read: Sgt Pepper blows out 50 candles with two-week citywide bash

And as it’s also the 50th anniversary of the release of Strawberry Fields Forever, the original gates went on show today at the Beatles Story museum.

For perhaps 100 years they guarded the entrance to Strawberry Field children’s home in Liverpool.

Then the Beatles recorded their smash hit, a double A-side with Penny Lane, leading fans across the world to L25.

The gates were removed from the entrance to the one-time Salvation Army orphanage six years ago and taken to a secret location. Souvenir-seeking fans had been chipping away at them for decades.

Since then, pilgrims heading to the site, close to the childhood home of John Lennon, have been snapping keepsake photos of what are replicas.

Now they have returned to Liverpool to go on public show at Albert Dock visitor attraction that charts the lives of the group.

The display forms part of fundraising plans by the charity the Salvation Army to redevelop the Strawberry Field site, which finally closed in 2005 as a children’s home.

Martin King of The Beatles Story said: “The gates are a real piece of Beatles’ history, and it’s a privilege to display such a special exhibit at The Beatles Story.  We welcome over a quarter of a million visitors a year, from over 80 countries and we hope that by displaying the gates here it will help raise awareness for the project.”

Major Drew McCombe of the Salvation Army, North West said: “Strawberry Field has a very special history, both for its connection to John Lennon and the song Strawberry Fields Forever, and for its history as a place for solace for Liverpool’s most vulnerable people.”

Liverpool Beatles fan, Jim Bennett, now 60, spent five years creating replicas of the gates. He used to drive past them every day and decided to create a new set as a passion project and to help conserve the originals.

Unlike the replica gates which are welded to make them stronger, the originals are held together with rivets, but some sections were missing.