The 2.7 acre grounds, which provided the inspiration for the Beatles’ famous song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, formerly played host to a children’s home run by the Salvation Army until it closed its doors in 2005. The old buildings have now been demolished so that works can get underway on construction of a brand new café, gardens, training facility and Beatles exhibition centre.
Visitors will be able to venture beyond the site’s renowned red gates for the very first time to explore a state-of-the-art exhibition space which will explain the story behind the 1967 global pop hit, as well as paying homage to John Lennon’s early life. Meanwhile, the training and work placement hub will give local young people with learning difficulties the opportunity to acquire vital employment skills in industries such as catering, retail and horticulture through the charity’s Steps to Work programme.
Commenting on the scheme Marc Chapman, director of building surveying at Gleeds, said: "The Strawberry Field site holds such significance for the people of Liverpool and Beatles fans across the globe which makes this a hugely exciting project to be involved with. Once complete, the new facility will be a fantastic asset to help disadvantaged young people in the local community so it’s a real privilege to be part of the team giving it a new lease of life."
Thomas Burfitt-Williams, head of capital projects for the Salvation Army, added; "With the assistance of Gleeds, The Salvation Army has been on a long journey to develop and design a contemporary interpretation for a site that has always served young people. Understanding the goals and constraints has been integral to this renewal of a vision to provide a relevant facility for the future to young people with learning disabilities."
As part of the formal ground-breaking ceremony a time capsule was buried by Major Roger Batt, before guests were invited to review the plans for the redevelopment. Works are expected to complete and the site open to the public by summer 2019.