I remember in 1972 when the original Cavern Club was demolished. I was 12 at the time. I thought…why? Surely people would like to see that? You know what they put in its place? A car park. For over ten years all that tourists could see of the Cavern was a plaque on the wall opposite, and a little statue by local sculptor Arthur Dooley, with a sign underneath, “Four lads who shook the World”. I used to watch German and Japanese people thinking, “How could the council have been so stupid?” There was no tourism in Liverpool back in those days…but the tourists still came.
It was only in the early eighties that someone had the idea to dig out a new Cavern Club. So, it’s a little farther along Mathew Street than the old one, and to most non Liverpudlians- or even some younger natives-they think it’s the real thing. Maybe the toilets work better- apparently the ones in the old club flooded-and perhaps the walls don’t run with damp. But don’t think the Beatles actually stood on that stage – they didn’t.
I hear that the current owners of the “Franchise” are thinking of building a series of Caverns around the globe. Why not? They acknowledge that the current club is a fake. To their credit, however, they have got the Hard Days Night Hotel off the ground. I can recommend the restaurant. It has seperate portraits of each person featured on the cover of Sgt. Peppers- even the ones who didn’t make the final cut- like Jesus and Hitler. I was told that they actually had to move Hitler’s portrait higher up the wall, as diners objected to him leering at them whilst they ate.
For my part, I remember the 70’s night club Eric’s, which was just opposite where the original Cavern stood. It, too, had dodgy toilets and was home to a new generation- as they were then- of talented Liverpudlian music makers. A play about the club just had it’s world premiere at the Everyman Theatre in Hope Street. With luck, it can reach out to a universal audience, as Willy Russel’s work has. Who knows, in a few years time I hope to see a fake Eric’s club, complete with punk rock music blasting out.
The Cavern club as it is now is part of the Liverpool renaissance that has happened over the last twenty years, much of it fuelled by tourism. Good luck to them, and thanks to The Beatles- we’ve all certainly had a few bob’s worth out of them. Four lads who shook the world…wonder if that statue is still there?