On 14th September 2019, the site opened its iconic red gates to the public for the first time. It now serves as a unique addition to Beatles tourism, complete with a visitor exhibition, community café, shop, gardens and at its heart a Steps to Work programme.
Through the exhibition, visitors can learn more about the history of the site, including stories from the former children’s home and about how John came to write the famous song. The ‘Imagine More’ Café is a place to socialise and enjoy delicious dishes, sourced locally. The shop stocks a wide range of authentic merchandise from handpicked suppliers; many of whom are local. The gardens offer a calm space for reflection and a place to explore spirituality.
The site promotes responsible tourism through the Steps to Work programme, which helps young adults aged 18-25 with learning disabilities and other barriers to employment to learn new skills and gain work experience. The programme is fully funded by the exhibition, café and shop sales.
Hidden away in a residential area of the city, this tranquil hidden gem sits quietly nestled among the green leafy suburbs of Liverpool, but just like the cherished city, nothing is quite what it seems.
Dating back to the 1860’s, the original Strawberry Field was built for a wealthy shipping magnate, such was the status of many of the rich living in Liverpool at the time with the waterfront positioning Liverpool at the hub of international trade. Since his death the site was bequeathed to a family member, known locally in Liverpool for the purchase of several Salvation Army sites in the city — one of which, the Ann Fowler House, dedicated to the memory of her mother, was often used as a threat to young children who misbehaved. An avid supporter of the needs of the poor and socially deprived, when she passed, Mary left enough funds to The Salvation Army for the benefit of women and children in Liverpool enabling Strawberry Field to be purchased and opened as a children’s home in July 1936.
Chosen for its idyllic, pretty surroundings the dreamlike name of Strawberry Field portrays a magical and mystical view in the minds eye, of a place synonymous with fairy tales, magic and mischief and must have seemed like the perfect place for a young John Lennon to escape his troubled childhood. Having been removed from the care of his mother as a young child and being raised by his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George nearby, he often snuck into the field with friends to play with the children in the home on the site.
With the annual arrival of the summer garden party on the grounds of Strawberry Field, John’s Aunt Mimi recalls his excitement for ‘properly’ entering the field, “As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army Band starting, John would jump up and down shouting ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late.’
”One can only imagine the sheer unadulterated joy and pleasure of running free amongst the grounds on long hot sunny days — after all, with a name like strawberry Field, just as the lyrics suggest, there’s nothing to be hung about.