John Lennon’s sister returned to one of his childhood haunts as work started on a new visitor attraction and support centre.
Julia Baird helped to bury a time capsule as development work began on the site of the Strawberry Field children’s home in Woolton, Liverpool, which was the inspiration for the band’s 1967 song Strawberry Fields Forever. The Salvation Army is planning to open the site’s famous red gates to the public next summer to give people a chance to walk through the grounds like Lennon did as a boy and learn about his connection with the home. The charity is also planning to build a training and work placement hub for young people with learning disabilities on the site, which has remained empty since the children’s home closed in 2005.
As a boy, John used to jump over the wall into the grounds to play with children who lived there and listen to the Salvation Army band. Also on the site on Tuesday for the development’s ground-breaking ceremony was Lady Judy Martin, widow of the Fab Four’s producer, Sir George Martin.
She said: “The plans to open Strawberry Field to the public for the first time – so people can see a unique exhibition about the home, how and why the song was written by John, and allow visitors to explore the grounds as John did as a child – is very exciting.”
Major Roger Batt, divisional leader for the Salvation Army, North West, said: “As custodians of the site for the people of Liverpool and Beatles fans the world over, we want to transform Strawberry Field and reopen it for the good of young people in the North West who would benefit from access to support, as well as encourage more similar projects across the UK.
“It is our firm intention that Strawberry Field will also be a place for spiritual reflection with an opportunity to explore the grounds and create new memories for each and every person who comes to visit.”
The charity has been fundraising to pay for the development and still needs to raise £1 million before opening.
Donations can be made at www.strawberryfieldliverpool.com