Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Strawberry Fields not forever

One of pop cultures most famous landmarks may soon be no more. The gates to a children's home which inspired the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever are to be taken down and may be sold off by their owners the Salvation Army.

The BBC World Service was one of the first to report the news which will be troubling to pop fans around the world. The Salvation Army say that they may consider replacing the gates with replicas, but there is dismay amongst some who feel it will not be the same. Many Beatles' landmarks have long gone and the Strawberry Field gates are one of the few remaining reminders of one of the world's most influential pop acts.

At the time of writing neither the official Liverpool City website nor the Salvation Army page devoted to the history of the children's home gave any indication the gates would soon be removed.

The gates have become a shrine drawing fans from around the world, many leaving their mark in the form of graffiti on the two sandstone pillars.

It will not be the first time the gates have been removed. In 2000 the 2.5 metre tall gates were stolen by men who drove off with them in a blue transit van [BBC]. They were recovered a few days later after a scrap-metal dealer contacted police following wide-spread publicity surrounding the disappearance of the wrought-iron gates [BBC].

Despite their return many fans have been unhappy about the upkeep of the iconic gates. In 2009 Colin Unwin a 61-year-old Beatles' fan was so fed up in seeing the years of neglect, he contacted the Salvation Army to obtain permission to paint the gates [Liverpool Echo].

As well as restoring the gates to their original pillar box red he also cleaned off all the graffiti and removed all the weeds from the overgrown entrance and path. The graffiti soon returned, by the gates looked significantly better for their lick of paint. But now, some two years later fans may only be able to take a virtual visit on Google Maps.

Update: Shortly after posting this article, the Salvation Army contacted tvnewswatch and said they were "looking at all options for the gates" including the possibility they might be returned to the site as part of a heritage centre. The Salvation Army have now posted an article on their website explaining that their decision was made to prevent further damage to the 100 year old gates and that they will be replaced with hand-crafted replicas.

In other Beatles' related news the musician David Mason who played the trumpet on Penny Lane, which was the flip-side to Strawberry Fields Forever, has died aged 85 [Toronto Star]. And Paul McCartney, 68, is set to marry for a third time to long time fiancée Nancy Shevelle [Belfast Telegraph / Reuters].

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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