Strawberry Field, the Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool near John Lennon’s childhood home that inspired the Beatles’ 1967 classic “Strawberry Fields Forever,” opened to the public for the first time Saturday.
The property – a popular tourist destination for Beatles fans that draws a reported 60,000 people a year – had been off-limits for decades, with the grounds walled off by a brick perimeter and a red metal gate.
However, starting today, the gates would open to the public permanently, with the Salvation Army converting the on-site building – which shuttered in 2005 after the original children’s home there was demolished in 1973 – into a visitors’ center focused on Lennon’s Liverpudlian youth.
Tickets to visit the grounds are available through the Strawberry Field website. “Each visitor will enter into a world where ‘nothing is real’ plunging into the 1860’s era where Strawberry Field began as a Victorian house, before it transformed into a safe place where The Salvation Army supported and homed some of Liverpool’s vulnerable youth,” the site states. “Visitors can then experience through archival footage, photographs and timelines and our specialist media guides the world where John Lennon played as a child and what happened behind the famous red gates.”
“John Lennon found sanctuary here as a child and that’s exactly what we want to offer by opening the Strawberry Field gates for good,” Salvation Army Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill said in a statement (via CNN).
Julia Baird, Lennon’s sister, added in a statement, “I’ve been really impressed by the Salvation Army’s vision and now there is huge potential to make a real change in the lives of young people who will grow in the precious soil of Strawberry Field.”