In 1967 the Beatles released the song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It’s a tune most people have heard, but many are unaware of the history behind it.
Strawberry Field is an actual place in Liverpool, England, and until it was closed in 2005 for lack of funds, it was the location of a children’s home.
Some history: When John Lennon was young, his father left, and his mother sent him to live with his Aunt Mimi near Strawberry Field. Young John spent quite a bit of time at Strawberry Field, and Aunt Mimi wasn’t exactly pleased about this because she was afraid the orphans might be a bad influence on him. John didn’t agree. His own father left him, and he was separated from his mother, so he identified with them.
“Strawberry Fields Forever” lyrics begin, Let me take you down cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields. Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Beatles fans say this was inspired by young John’s arguments with Aunt Mimi over whether he should go to Strawberry Field, where one day he sarcastically replied, “What are they going to do, hang me?” Hence, nothing to get hung about.
Presently, Strawberry Field is owned by the Salvation Army who would like to reopen it to visitors.
“The visitor experience will tell the story of The Salvation Army, the children’s home that once stood here, and the part that Strawberry Field played in the life of John Lennon and the Beatles,” they said. “We will create a new training and work placement hub for young people with learning disabilities, where they can learn skills, gain work experience, grow in confidence and achieve.”
John Lennon left a sizable sum of money to Strawberry Field in his will, then years later his widow Yoko Ono donated as well. Still, the place was forced to close in 2005 for lack of funds.
The Salvation Army has a vision to bring it back, to make Strawberry Field “forever.”
Some plans include:
*A new exhibition exploring the story of the Place, the Song and John Lennon’s early life.
*The café will be a comfortable, stylish, sociable spot to relax over a meal welcoming people internationally and within the local community
*The gardens are a key part of the experience where visitors can wander, reflect and create new memories.
*The shop gives visitors the opportunity to purchase a reminder of their visit.
^Young trainees will work across the centre with a staff team welcoming visitors.
*And the hope is Visitors could remain linked with Strawberry Field through a Friends initiative.
As for The Salvation Army, they work in 128 countries around the world “demonstrating Christian faith, hope and love through practical support and friendship to people of all ages, backgrounds and needs.”