Strawberry Field gates go on display

Major Drew McCombe & Martin King
FIFTY years on from the UK release of The Beatles’ hit Strawberry Fields Forever, the original red gates from The Salvation Army’s children’s home have returned to Liverpool and are on public display at The Beatles Story at the Albert Dock. Following the success of the song, written by John Lennon, the gates to the Strawberry Field site in Woolton became a point of pilgrimage for thousands of Beatles fans from around the world, until they were taken into protective storage in 2011. For the past six years, replica gates have stood at the Beaconsfield Road entrance. The gates display forms part of the church and charity’s fundraising plans to redevelop the iconic Strawberry Field site, which closed in 2005, as local authorities changed the model of care and children were placed in foster or adoptive care.  Earlier this year, The Salvation Army unveiled their new vision for the site, which will include a training and work placement hub for young people with learning disabilities and a new authentic exhibition on John Lennon’s early life around Strawberry Field, as well as a haven for spiritual reflection. Martin King of The Beatles Story said: “We are delighted to join forces with The Salvation Army to showcase the original Strawberry Field gates to our visitors. They are a real piece of Beatles’ history, and it’s a privilege to display such a special exhibit here at The Beatles Story.  We welcome over a quarter of a million visitors per year, from over 80 countries worldwide and we hope that by displaying the gates here it will help raise funds and awareness for this project to enable them to ‘open the gates’ once again”. Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army, North West said: “Strawberry Field has a very special history, both for its connection to John Lennon and the song Strawberry Fields Forever, and for its history as a place for solace for Liverpool’s most vulnerable people. By joining with The Beatles Story to exhibit the iconic, original Strawberry Field gates, we hope to raise awareness of the exciting plans we have to reinvigorate the Strawberry Field site, as well as giving Beatles fans the opportunity to see a slice of Fab Four history.” The original gates loaned by The Salvation Army to The Beatles Story will be on display for a limited time only. Visitors that wish to support the redevelopment of the Strawberry Field site will be invited to make a donation. To find out more about the iconic gates visit www.beatlesstory.com. To find out more about The Salvation Army’s plans for the Strawberry Field site, visit www.strawberryfieldliverpool.com.