Ground-breaking new vision for Strawberry Field redevelopment launches

Strawberry Field, the iconic site immortalised in The Beatles hit ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, is set for a major redevelopment which should see it open its famous gates to the public for the first time, revealing a host of never-seen Beatles-related memorabilia as part of a new planned exhibition.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the release of the unforgettable song, The Salvation Army has launched their inspiring new vision for the Strawberry Field site, weaving together educational, cultural, heritage and spiritual exploration in one bold, imaginative plan.

The revival of the site, treasured by John Lennon as he grew up a stone’s throw away in Woolton, Liverpool, will include a centre for young people with learning disabilities; a new, authentic exhibition on the place, the song and John Lennon’s early life around Strawberry Field; and the development of a haven for spiritual exploration.

Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army, North West said: “Strawberry Field is special in the hearts of many people in Liverpool, the UK and across the world, and we at The Salvation Army are aiming to redevelop the site to do justice to the many people that have been supported by the children’s home or formed a connection with the iconic Beatles song.

“It’s no secret that Strawberry Field was special to John Lennon – it mattered to him – and it feels right to launch our fundraising campaign and new website on the 50th anniversary of the UK release of Strawberry Fields Forever. We’re going to inspire people to become involved in the project in any way they can, to create a pivotal place in the lives of young people and a must-see destination for Beatles fans the world over.”

Central to the vision for the site is a training hub for young people with learning disabilities to train in catering, retail, visitor experience, customer service and work placements, building skills and confidence that will lead to meaningful volunteering and sustainable employment opportunities.

The Salvation Army’s research found that in the Merseyside area, just 16% of people aged 18+ with learning disabilities are known to support providers such as charities and local authorities, and just 7% are in paid employment – the Strawberry Field project will address that issue.

Peter Hooton, Chair of The Beatles Legacy Group, said: “I can think of no better way Strawberry Field could be re-developed in such an innovative way, which gives hope and job opportunities to vulnerable young people, whilst making a valuable and worthwhile contribution to The Beatles Legacy in Liverpool.”

The former Strawberry Field children’s home was the inspiration for the Fab Four hit, Strawberry Fields Forever, with John Lennon having played in its grounds as a child.

We’ve had a seriously fun time skipping back through The Beatles archives to bring you these 9 amazing facts about the iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

1 – Sir Peter Blake shot alternative covers to the album, which were turned down in favour of the famous one we all know and love. The alternative uses the familiar collage backdrop to the original but features small difference, including the positioning of each band member.

2 – For the first time ever (for a rock LP), and much to the delight of dedicated fans, the lyrics to the tracks were printed, in full on the back cover.

3 – You can see the legendary Sgt.Pepper suits, in full technicolour glory, right here in Liverpool. As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, The Beatles Story, Albert Dock is showing the fab four suits as a full set to the public, for the first time. More information here.

4 – On a return flight to London in November 1966, Paul conceived the idea for the album. Unable to sleep, he toyed with the idea of creating a new identity for the band, to allow them to experiment, with each Beatle taking on an alter-ego in the ‘Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

5 – The album which caused a major shift in modern music did help define the 1967 Summer of Love, but the hard work began in the winter of ‘66. Including 13 songs, the tracks were recorded in over 400 hours during a 129-day period.

6 – It’s said that the closing track of the album, ‘A Day in the Life’ features a high-frequency noise that was added by John Lennon, to annoy dogs!

7 – The world’s most famous drum head, the hand-painted bass drum skin for The Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” sold to a private buyer for $1.1 million on Thursday July 10th, 2008, making it the star attraction at Christie’s rock and pop memorabilia auction in London.

8 – John Lennon reportedly bought a framed Victorian circus poster from a nearby antique shop. The poster stated that the circus would be “for the benefit of Mr Kite” (a circus performer), which became the inspiration behind the album track.

9 – ‘Get By With a Little Help from My Friends’ has been covered three times since the original release. 1968 saw Joe Cocker have a bash at it, followed by Wet Wet Wet 20 years later in 1988, and more recently by rock legends, Sam and Mark in 2004.

To find out more about the project and how you can support its development, whether through donations, volunteering or by visiting the Strawberry Field online shop for exclusive gifts and memorabilia, can be found on the brand new, dedicated website 

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