Penny Lane

It begins before it really begins. If you see what I mean. Its a neighbourhood, as well as a street, as well as a song. It’s the neighbourhood we live in. And I moved here deliberately 22 years ago. Because I wanted to live in a song.Penny Lane01

We have history here. Us with Sarah's collage of the place and the song in 1996.

We have history here. Us with Sarah’s collage of the place and the song in 1996.

Going from our house round to Smithdown Place it begins to announce itself.Penny Lane02

Penny Lane03 Penny Lane04And the song begins:

“In Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer.”Penny Lane05Penny Lane06

“We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim.”

This was a bank then, in the 1950s and 60s.

This was a bank then, in the 1950s and 60s.

“Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway.”

Turning 'the shelter in the middle of the roundabout' into a restaurant was always going to be a big challenge, given that by then the back half of it was a disused public toilet.

Turning ‘the shelter in the middle of the roundabout’ into a restaurant was always going to be a big challenge, given that by then the back half of it was a disused public toilet.

Turning 'the shelter in the middle of the roundabout' into a restaurant was always going to be a big challenge, given that by then the back half of it was a disused public toilet.

People waiting for the bus, where they waited for the bus.

The singer of the song, young James Paul McCartney, was a choirboy here.

The singer of the song, young James Paul McCartney, auditioned to be a choirboy here. He was turned down.

And now we enter Penny Lane, the street. And I often see tourists wandering around here with a vague ‘Where is everything?’ look about them. Well, actually, its all here. I think the charm of the place is that there’s been no need to falsely re-create the look and feel of what it was like back in the 1950s and 60s, because it’s still much like it was then, minus the Wine Bar of course (splendid and highly recommended though that is).

This was the centre of their world, John, Paul and George, in the days before Ringo joined. They’d meet up here every morning to get the tram or bus into school and art college. And when the band got going some of their early gigs were around here too.Penny Lane12

Penny Lane14

They are here if you look for them.

Behind the fence in the community centre.

Behind the fence in the community centre.

But for the most part...

But for the most part…

Things haven't much changed. They would recognise the place.

Things haven’t much changed. They would recognise the place.

In fact John’s first band, The Quarrymen played at Dovedale Towers here, back when it was the church hall for St Barnabas.

Unchanged, Penny Lane Cakes with the maroon shutters, opposite Dovedale Towers.

Unchanged, Penny Lane Cakes with the maroon shutters, opposite Dovedale Towers.

But just along here...

Then just along here…

Is something new. Opened a year ago.

Is something new and enterprising. Opened a year ago.

Penny Lane22

Penny Lane23

And here they are. In Penny Lane, where you’d expect them to be.

But there’s more to here than them.Penny Lane24This is Christine Colvin, the founder and curator of Penny Lane Gallery. After a career in art, music, creativity and, particularly, being an event organiser for big corporate clients, Christine decided to do what she’d long wanted and have her own gallery. She opened it a year ago now, particularly to feature the work of local artists.

“I like to see work people have worked at, where they’ve really put themselves into it. Work about music, about Liverpool. And I also love comic book art.”

Penny Lane25Penny Lane30“I put on changing exhibitions of work by individual artists. We had the first exhibition by Will Sergeant of Echo and the Bunnymen. And the current exhibition is by Mike Grattan. He’s from Blackpool, that’s almost local isn’t it?”

Penny Lane28

Penny Lane29

Mike Grattan’s work. Jimi And Kate sing to each other.

“Being an event organiser I like to use the space for other things. As well as launch events for the exhibitions there have been book launches and other social gatherings here. The space can comfortably fit around fifty people. So I’ll be doing more of that sort of thing.”

Penny Lane26

More local art.

More local art.

A print by the lost Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe.

A print of a painting by the lost Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe.

And a rare edition by his friend John.

And a rare edition by his friend John.

Leaving this treasure trove.

Well done Christine, a credit to Penny Lane. But now, leaving this treasure trove.

And across the railway bridge.

It’s across the railway bridge.

To where the tourists come.

To where the tourists come.

At the end of the Lane

At the end of the Lane

Just over the road from lovely Greenbank House.

Just over the road from lovely Greenbank House.

Meanwhile back in Penny Lane...the song goes on.

In summer, meanwhile back in Penny Lane – every day of the year…the song goes on.

But look out for the Blue Meanies!

But look out for the Blue Meanies!

Penny Lane Gallery, 38 Penny Lane, Liverpool. Opening times and other details here. Also, on Facebook here. From the centre of town, get on the 86 bus and ask for Penny Lane. It’s easy.

And finally, here they are.

18 thoughts on “Penny Lane

  1. Paul Dean

    Nice to see you Both @’ The Crusie Liner terminal Last Sat — friends coming Over from Argentina in May –will bring them along for sure ! ( Continued Succes for The Future) –Paul Dean

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Welcome to here Paul.

      Regular readers note, Paul is clearly a friend of Christine from Penny Lane Gallery as featured in this post. Was shaken there for a minute. Had no memory whatsoever of being at the Cruise Liner Terminal over the weekend!

      Reply
  2. Mop Top Tours (@MopTopTours)

    Nice blog and lovely pictures – just one thing though – Paul was actually the head chorister at St Barnabus Church – it was the Anglican Cathedral where he failed the audition – although he said when he took the audition he was ten years old, he didn’t want to be a choirboy anymore anyway, so he didn’t try. Peace and Love from Stevie T – MopTopTours Liverpool’s favourite Beatles Tour

    Reply
  3. Taffy

    Paul McCartney did sing in the choir of St Barnabas Church for a short time in the 1950s. He was turned down by Liverpool Cathedral choir

    Reply
  4. Barry Ward

    Hi Ronnie,
    Another good Beatle-related piece. The Penny Lane Gallery looks like an interesting place. Just a pity you didn’t take the photos on a sunnier day, and then you could have incorporated a reference to ‘blue suburban skies’ !
    Barry.

    Reply
  5. Mop Top Tours (@MopTopTours)

    Another intersesting thing to see in Penny Lane – for Beatles fans that is – is one of the locations used in the filming of the Beatles’ video for ‘Free As A Bird’. These are the shops opposite Dovedale Towers and the shop MOST Featured was Penny Lane Cakes – which looks exactly the same to this day – even down to the lady working behind the counter! No kidding!

    And next door to the cake shop is now a hair and beauty salon. This used to be a solicitors office owned by two brothers named ‘Strange’. They had a sign outside saying ‘Messrs Strange and Strange’ – VERY strange!

    Reply

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