John, Paul and George play at Abbey Road … in 1958!

John, Paul and George play at Abbey Road … in 1958!

I guess the title of this post may have caught the attention, and caused some head-scratching, among some diehard Beatles fans, so it has to be said that the street in question is not the now-famous Abbey Road in the London Borough of Westminster, but Childwall Abbey Road in Liverpool – to be precise, the Childwall Abbey Hotel at the junction where Score Lane becomes Childwall Lane. The name of the then village of Childwall has its origins in the Old English word ‘Cileuuelle’  meaning ‘a stream where young people meet’, so it is somewhat appropriate that three young men who were the nucleus of a band that would go on to make history should have met here to play one of their early gigs together. The date was 20th December 1958, and the occasion the wedding reception of George Harrison’s older brother, Harry, and Irene McCann. Many sources claim that the event took place in Speke, but the true facts are easily verified in the main picture of this article, and in the photo below:

The Childwall Abbey Hotel in modern times.

It can be clearly seen that the type of windows, and the shape of the walls, behind the three young men correspond exactly with the tower-like constructions in the image of the hotel today. It is most probable that the photo of The Quarrymen was taken in the bar of the hotel on the ground floor, to the right of the main entrance – as seen in the photo below. Also in the main photo, George, John and Paul are dressed in a formal manner, correct for wedding guests but not their usual attire when playing gigs in those days!

The corner of the bar where The Quarrymen were photographed.

The future life of Harry and Irene is surrounded in conflicting reports, but what is known is that the couple went on to have two children – Paul, born in 1960, and Janet, in 1962. Harry worked at Calor Gas and then for the Mobil Oil company in North Road, Crewe, as a diesel fitter. Irene worked at a local shoe shop called Victor Smith’s. They later lived in Charter Crescent, Whitby, Yorkshire, before moving to Green Lane, Great Sutton, on the Wirral Peninsular, close to Liverpool. Val Ferguson, former headmaster of Sutton Green School remembers Harry’s son, Paul, arriving at school wearing a bearskin coat – a present from Uncle George. Another local recalls visits by George and his then-wife Pattie Boyd to Harry and Irene’s house in Green Lane. When George moved to Friar Park, the family moved to Henley-On-Thames to be near him, and along with George’s other brother, Peter, worked as a gardener on Friar Park’s vast estate.

Before we leave Childwall Abbey Hotel, and the other Abbey Road, it’s worth noting another coincidence. The current manager of the hotel is one Brian Wilson … no, of course not that one!

© Copyright 2017 Philip Kirkland. No original part of this work may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.