Your guide to a Beatles pub crawl
In May 2016, I sat down and discussed all the pubs that had Beatles history attached to them. For research purposes (honest) I went out and drank copious amounts of pints to research these places and I wrote what went on to be one of the most popular posts on The Guide Liverpool at that time. Today, these pubs have got more Beatles fans visiting than ever before, and their popularity is growing as the industry around them is growing too.
Many people have followed the Guide I wrote and went on to enjoy these nostalgic Beatles pubs and I have been hearing tales inspired by this pub crawl for a while now. So, share this far and wide, get your friends involved, and let me tell you the history that exists under our nose in our wonderful city for all of you to enjoy in this new and improved Beatles Pub Crawl guide.
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms
Location: 36 Hope St, L1 9BX Open Times: 11am til 12am
For a while John Lennon lived in the Georgian Quarter of our city with his best friend, and original bass player of The Beatles, Stuart Sutcliffe. They would drink on Hope Street and one of their locals was always said to have been The Phil. Years later a quote became popularised that was said to have been from John Lennon himself – He apparently said “the price of fame was no longer being able to have a pint in The Phil.”
The pub itself is amazing in its own right, it is a grade 2 listed building that boasts grade 1 listed Gentlemen’s Toilets. It’s a strange one, but they are made with a very rare type of Irish marble and the toilet room itself is covered in mosaic tiles. For the men who visit it’s not unusual to see people taking selfies at the urinals, which is strange enough – But often, women want to see what the fuss is about and wonder in there after a few drinks. I’d certainly recommend that they knock before they go in, we don’t want them to get a nasty fright, do we?
Location: 13 Rice St, L1 9BB Open Times: 12pm til 12am
Ye Cracke is a small pub that is tucked away just off Hope Street, on Rice Street. Normally marked by a lovely Lamb Banana that sits on the corner there every day. It is around the corner from the old Liverpool Arts College that was attended by John Lennon, Cynthia Powell who was John Lennon’s first wife and Stuart Sutcliffe. Most days after college they lads were found inside Ye Cracke and this pub arguably has more significance to John Lennon than any other pub in the city. It’s been referenced in many biographies about him since. Most notably the conversations he would have with Bill Harry, Stuart Sutcliffe and Rod Murray – They all watched a terrible poetry recital one night and decided to take it upon themselves to put Liverpool on the map. It was in Ye Cracke that they formed a group called The Dissenters. Sutcliffe and Murray went on to enjoy success as artists, Bill Harry founded the Merseybeat magazine which transformed the Liverpool music scene that can now be thanked for Liverpool being the UNESCO World Capital of Popular Music. As for John Lennon, he went on to become John Lennon, didn’t he? They certainly put us on the map, thanks for drunken promises in Ye Cracke.
John brought Cynthia Powell here on his first date, rumour has it he went here to drown his sorrows after his mother’s death too. But this pub is much more than just the old local of Lennons – It boasts a magnificent beer garden and one of Liverpool’s best kept secrets – The War Room, which is a grade 2 listed room inside Ye Cracke Pub where war veterans would sit and recite old war stories.
The Blue Angel
Location: 106-108 Seel St, L1 4BL Open Times: 11pm til 5am
This club, known locally these days as The Raz, was owned by the Beatles first manager Alan Williams. Alan was known worldwide as “the man who gave away the Beatles” and he owned various pubs and clubs in the city. The Beatles had their first audition for a tour outside of the city in the Blue Angel and they also auditioned the original Beatles drummer, Pete Best here.
Famous faces who have played here include Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. Cilla Black was heard by Brian Epstein here and was signed as his only female act off the back of it.
Location: 21-23 Slater St, L1 4BW Open Times: 10am til 6am
The Jacaranda was an old watch shop in 1958 and it was bought by Alan Williams and turned into a coffee shop. When the Beatles met Alan Williams they hounded him for a chance to play in places Alan owned. He let them play in the Jacaranda if John and Stuart painted the place. John and Stuart painted the lady’s toilets and there is still a section of wall that appears to have been preserved. When the Beatles left Liverpool for Hamburg, they left in a bus parked outside the Jac.
Today its well preserved and known for its cult status. It hosts a fine record store upstairs, it has a middle floor pub and its basement hosts talented local musicians and bands and is one of the best pubs for mid-week drinking. It has something for everyone in here, including fantastic cakes to eat during the day while you listen to vinyl records that you can play from the table you’re sat at. If you haven’t already visited the Jacaranda, you certainly should do.
The White Star
Location: 2-4 Rainford Gardens, L2 6PT Open Times: 11.30am til 11pm
Heading down to the other side of town is where you will find the world-famous Mathew Street. Today it hosts many pubs and clubs and not all have Beatles connections at all but do play on the theme. One pub, The White Star, is still very traditional. It is known in Beatles history as the pub where Alan Williams and Bob Wooler (the original cavern club DJ and huge figure in Merseybeat) would pay their acts. The Beatles would go into the back room to receive their money, today there is a “Beatles back wall” in the exact place where they received their earnings. Brian Epstein later met with Bob Wooler in here in 1963 and discussed The Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan show in the back room.
If you like a quiet pint in somewhere that does have real authentic Beatles History, it is certainly worth having a quick drink in one of the original pubs on Mathew Street where people could get ale.
Location: 25 Mathew St, L2 6RE Open Times: 3.30pm til 2am
When Merseybeat was in full swing, Mathew street was full of warehouses and very few places to drink. The Cavern didn’t sell alcohol, so for the Beatles the best place to go for a drink was The Grapes. Famously the Beatles would sit close to the female toilets (which were originally on the right-hand side when you walked into the pub) and all the girls that would come in to do their hair and get dressed before visiting the cavern would pass them – Meaning the lads could have a good look at them.
Throughout their time on Mathew street, The Grapes was visited as frequently as The Cavern by the Fab Four. Pete Best famously went to the grapes to drown his sorrows when he was kicked out of the band and famously George Harrison got a black eye outside of here, because Pete had been kicked out of the band. It was refurbished a few years ago, but it still has Beatles heritage. It is a must visit for any Beatles fan.
Location: 10 Mathew St, L2 6RE Open Times: 10am – 2am
It wouldn’t be a Beatles pub crawl without a visit to The Cavern, would it? The Beatles performed in The Cavern Club 292 times and people travel from all over the world to visit the club that had its own smell, its own dance and where most of the planets biggest stars have performed.
The original cavern opened in 1957 as a jazz club and was taken over by rock and roll, thanks in some part to the rebellion of John Lennon, who would regularly get notes passed to him on stage by the owner to “stop playing that bloody rock and roll!” By 1959 it had been sold to a new owner and Beat groups were regularly playing. It was known for being sweaty, damp and it had a strong smell of disinfectant from the toilets. It would fill up with smoke and sweat would drip down the walls.
In 1973 the Cavern Club was closed down and knocked down to build an underground rail loop – that never came to be. In turn it was then rebuilt in 1984 out of many of the same bricks and to the original plans, moving its door further down the street and building a second stage. It remains one of the most visited attractions in Liverpool and today it hosts music all afternoon and night and some of the world’s greatest Beatles tribute bands play here. Situated opposite is a wall of fame featuring all the great acts that have performed on Mathew street and in the world-famous Cavern Club.
Dale Roberts is a local writer, blogger and freelance manager who is also a regular on radio and also one of the youngest tour guides in Liverpool. Dale currently is the Business Development Manager at Liverpool City Sights, where alongside the team there he has helped develop the only Hop-On-Hop-Off City&Beatles Tour on the open top buses, as well as bring the only multilingual tour to Liverpool, all in just one year. Visit his own website here, his Twitter account here and visit Liverpool City Sights here where you can buy your tickets to go on their hugely popular City&Beatles Tour in which Dale himself may be your guide!