Originally created 07/22/98

National Trust opens Paul McCartney's boyhood home to the public



LIVERPOOL, England -- It looks like any other 1950s working class row house. But at No. 20 Forthlin Road, a young Paul McCartney played pranks, listened to pop records -- and wrote some of the Beatles songs that turned four Liverpool boys into music legends.

The National Trust, keeper of some of Britain's grandest historic houses, has taken over the two-story home and restored it to 1950s condition, complete with furniture and gadgets from the decade. It opens to the public July 29, but the media had a preview Tuesday.

"My dear mother Mary had great aspirations for our family and was very proud and pleased when we moved to 20 Forthlin Road," McCartney said in a statement read during the tour of the three-bedroom house.

"My mum and dad would have found it very hard to believe that the house is now a National Trust property, but they would be chuffed (pleased) about it and so am I."

McCartney, who is still mourning the death of his wife, Linda, did not attend the preview. But that did not stop Beatles fans from congregating outside to shout: "We love you Paul!"

Martin Drury, director general of the National Trust, said the house, built in 1952, "is the first building acquired by the National Trust because of its significance to 20th century popular culture."

Paul was 13 in 1955 when his parents rented the house. His father, Jim, had a poorly paid job supervising garbage collection. A year later, his mother died of breast cancer. The family stayed in the house until 1964.

The National Trust, which bought the house in 1995 for $88,000, based the restoration on photographs taken by McCartney's brother Michael. The kitchen's deep square sink, upstairs doors and the linoleum in the hall are the only original features.

There are no McCartney possessions to see, and the living room where McCartney and John Lennon did their composing does not yet have an authentic piano of the period. Michael McCartney's photographs of family members adorn the walls.

The trust has added 1950s window frames and installed light fittings and switches from the period. A 1940s television stands in the living room, which is decorated with three different wallpapers in the cheap and cheery style of the day. The kitchen counter is covered with a red-and-white checked cloth and the room is filled with 1950s kitchen items.

The garden still blossoms with the lavender Paul liked to bring indoors to counter the smell of his father's smoking.

The house will be open Wednesday through Saturdays from July 29 to Dec. 12. Only six parties of 14 people will be allowed to visit each day and tickets must be bought in advance. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children.

The property's caretaker, John Halliday said he feels privileged to live in the house. "You can sense the atmosphere. You feel as though you are going back in time," he said. "You almost expect one of them to walk through the door, you know, and say hello."

"I haven't yet slept in Paul's bedroom, but I fully intend to," he added.