Saturday, July 24, 2010

Beatles Walking Tour, London

As mentioned in a previous post, one of the tours we took while in London was a Beatles walking tour. We met the tour guide, Richard Porter, by the Tottenham Court Road Underground Station (exit 3). The tour is 8GBP for adults, children under 15 accompanied by a parent are free. You don't make a reservation; just show up on the designated day at the designated time ( for more information).

Our first stop on the tour was Paul McCartney's offices, MPL Communications, LTD. MPL stands for McCartney Productions Limited but evolved into MPL Communications, LTD over time.  Just a few blocks away is Trident Studios where the Beatles recorded Hey Jude among others.

Not far from here was a "mystery" stop - where the Gentlemen's restroom on Broadwick Street was the significant Beatles landmark!  In November 1966, John Lennon was in a skit with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore playing the doorman for the exclusive "Gentlemen's Club."  This was also where John Lennon started wearing his famous round glasses in public.

As we continued on, we paused by this mural in Soho that was inspired by the Beatles' album cover from their Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

We strolled down Carnaby Street which was the "happeningist" street in London in the late 1960s during the height of Beatlemania.  Now it's mostly cashing in on nostalgia and memorabilia although some effort is being made to return to the high-end fashion that it was known for decades ago.

Until the Beatles had their first performance at the London Palladium, the British newspapers hadn't given them much coverage. However, the thousands of screaming fans gathered outside the Palladium on October 13, 1963 became newsworthy, and this event is said to be the beginning of "Beatlemania" in London.  The Palladium is still in use and is currently the scene for Sister Act.  Although the singing nuns don't get quite the attention that the Beatles did.

The next stop on our tour took us to the site of the Beatles' last performance - 3 Savile Row, home of the Apple Offices, where they ultimately had a recording session on the rooftop January 30, 1969.

Another site on the tour was the Indica Art Gallery, significant because this is where John Lennon and Yoko Ono first met.  Paul McCartney was a benefactor of the art gallery, and Yoko Ono was having an exhibit there.  Paul invited John to come with him pre-opening and while there, the two met.

No Beatles tour would be complete without a visit to Abbey Road, so we hopped on the tube from the Green Park station and went to St. John's Wood station which is a two block walk from Abbey Road.  You wouldn't know you were at Abbey Road without a map because the street sign is very rarely there; it's usually stolen by a fan every time it's replaced.

At Abbey Road, you can take your life in your hands to get a picture of yourself in the crosswalk, or you can be safe like us and just take a picture of the crosswalk.  This is a busy street in a residential area, and the crosswalk is actually right around a curve so it's difficult to watch for traffic.  You can also see the Abbey Road Studios here.

There are several Beatles tours offered by tour companies in London. We picked this one because it got excellent reviews on and we were not disappointed.

Our tour guide is also the author of the book Guide to the Beatles' London (ISBN: 0 953875903) and, as it turns out, the owner of the Beatles Coffee Shop where you can buy souvenirs, located at the St. John's Wood underground station.

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