Fifty years on from the UK release of The Beatles’ hit Strawberry Fields Forever,the iconic, original red gates from The Salvation Army’s children’s home havereturned to Liverpool and go on public display today at the award-winning ‘The Beatles Story’visitor attraction.
Following the legendary success of the song, written by John Lennon, the gatesto the Strawberry Field site in Woolton became a point of pilgrimage forthousands of Beatles fans from around the world, until they were taken intoprotective storage in 2011. For the past six years, replica gates have stood atthe Beaconsfield Road entrance.
Strawberry Field holds a special place in the history of The Beatles, withJohn’s experiences in and around the children’s home providing inspiration forthe unforgettable song. He grew up with his aunt Mimi just a stone’s throw awayfrom the site, and was said to find peace and refuge in the grounds.
The gates display forms part of the church and charity’s fundraising plans toredevelop the iconic Strawberry Field site, which closed in 2005, as localauthorities changed the model of care and children were placed in foster oradoptive care. Earlier this year, The Salvation Army unveiled their inspiringnew vision for the site, which will include a training and work placement hubfor young people with learning disabilities and a new authentic exhibition onJohn Lennon’s early life around Strawberry Field, as well as a haven forspiritual reflection. The vision weaves together educational, cultural,heritage and spiritual exploration in one bold imaginative plan.
Martin King of The Beatles Story said: “We are delighted to join forces withThe Salvation Army to showcase the original Strawberry Field gates to ourvisitors. They are a real piece of Beatles’ history, and it’s a privilege todisplay such a special exhibit here at The Beatles Story. We welcome overa quarter of a million visitors per year, from over 80 countries worldwide andwe hope that by displaying the gates here it will help raise funds andawareness for this project to enable them to ‘open the gates’ once again”.
Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army, North West said:“Strawberry Field has a very special history, both for its connection to JohnLennon and the song StrawberryFields Forever, and for its history as a place for solace forLiverpool’s most vulnerable people. By joining with The Beatles Story toexhibit the iconic, original Strawberry Field gates, we hope to raise awarenessof the exciting plans we have to reinvigorate the Strawberry Field site, aswell as giving Beatles fans the opportunity to see a slice of Fab Fourhistory.”
The original gates loaned by The Salvation Army to The Beatles Story, Liverpool,will join a wealth of other Fab Four memorabilia for a limited time only.Visitors that wish to support the redevelopment of the Strawberry Field sitewill be invited to make a donation. To find out more about the iconic gates visit beatlesstory.com. To find out more about TheSalvation Army’s inspirational plans for the Strawberry Field site, visit strawberryfieldliverpool.com.