Penny Lane

Liverpool, England

Penny Lane: inspiring one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

Penny Lane 6
- Michael Day

Exploring Penny Lane

Penny Lane is situated in the heart of Liverpool's Mossley Hill suburb, at the intersection of Church Road and Smithdown Place. Here you’ll find an abandoned bus shelter that once served as a meeting point for young Paul McCartney, on his visits to John Lennon. From here, the duo would head downtown to the Cavern Club, allowing for their legendary musical partnership to blossom into The Beatles and the creation of ‘Penny Lane’ itself.

Penny Lane 1
- Alison Benbow

McCartney's nostalgic ode to his hometown captures the essence of everyday life, from the hustle and bustle of people getting on and off the bus, to the whimsical tales spun by the barber. Beyond a physical presence the street is deeply symbolic of the personal connection that McCartney and Lennon had with it.

Despite its positive mention in the famous Beatles’ song of the same name, Penny Lane has dark associations with Liverpool's slave trade history, which in 2006, almost resulted in its renaming. However, Penny Lane prevailed, emerging unscathed and retaining its positive connotations for nearly half a century. Today, inspired by shared memories, Penny Lane has become part of Liverpool's cultural identity and you’ll find many Beatles’ fans wandering up and down it each day.

Penny Lane 2
- Loco Steve

History of Penny Lane

Dating back to the 1700s, Penny Lane has evolved from an unassuming rural street to become part of the lively magic that exists in central Liverpool today. Typically used as a tram and bus terminus for multiple routes, Penny Lane soared to the world stage after The Beatles’ released ‘Penny Lane’, in February 1967. The lyrics captured the street's essence, mentioning landmarks like the fire station at Mather Avenue and the distinctive bus shelter located on its own island, famously described as "the shelter in the middle of a roundabout."

Throughout the 1970s, lots of well-known establishments like Penny Lane Records and the renowned Harper's Bizarre wine bar opened on Penny Lane. However, the landscape shifted with the privatisation of UK buses, leading to the demolition of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive bus depot and redeveloping the area into a shopping precinct.

Penny Lane 3
- eltpics

One of the most significant landmarks – in the song and on the street – the bus shelter, underwent lots of changes, even becoming Sgt. Pepper's Bistro in the 1980s. Although efforts were made to revive it as a restaurant in 2015, it remains closed as of March 2023. Today, the street has become a mix of wholefood outlets, charity shops, cafés, and bars.

Despite the changes, Penny Lane has retained its charm, drawing Beatles enthusiasts from around the globe. But with the hype comes… the street sign thiefs apparently! Recently, the long-lost Penny Lane sign, stolen in 1976, was finally returned to Liverpool. And now, because the street signs became recipients of such frequent theft, they were replaced in 2007 with theft-resistant versions. So please, no more thieving on Penny Lane!

Penny Lane 4
- Bartek Miskiewicz

‘Penny Lane’ Success

In February 1967, The Beatles released ‘Penny Lane’ as a double A-side single with ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Written primarily by Paul McCartney, the song reminisces about the sights and characters of Penny Lane, drawing from McCartney's childhood memories in the city. Initially intended for their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, ‘Penny Lane’ became a standalone single due to record company demands.

Despite its success across Europe and topping the US Billboard Hot 100, ‘Penny Lane’ fell short of reaching number 1 on the British charts, marking the first time since ‘Please Please Me’ in 1963 that a Beatles single failed to do so. However, it's always been highly popular securing a place on Rolling Stone's list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, Mojo's “The 101 Greatest Beatles Songs”, and an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011.

Penny Lane
- Alison Benbow

Visiting Penny Lane

Private Beatles Taxi Tour

For a comprehensive Beatles experience, consider a Private Beatles Taxi Tour. These tours offer personalised journeys through Liverpool's Beatles landmarks, with knowledgeable guides providing insights and photo opportunities. While some tours include visits inside John and Paul's former homes, budget-friendly options offer exterior views only.

Magical Mystery Tour

Operated by the renowned Cavern Club, the Magical Mystery Tour provides a budget-friendly and time-efficient exploration of Liverpool's Beatles attractions. Lasting 2 hours, this tour covers major landmarks, including Penny Lane. However, due to time constraints, visitors have limited time for photo opportunities at the Penny Lane sign so be quick!

Public Bus

Travellers on a tight budget, or simply wishing to take things at their own pace, can opt for the public bus, route 86, departing from Liverpool One bus stop. Although this option allows for extended exploration of Penny Lane, it lacks the convenience of private transportation for further sightseeing.

Penny Lane 5
- Ken Clare

Things to see and do on Penny Lane

The Penny Lane Ghost

Most well-known landmarks are not without their haunted tales, and Penny Lane is no exception. Tucked away at number 44 is a tale from the Victorian era – a ghostly legend that still haunts the area today. Despite its unrelated origins, this ghostly lore attracts curious visitors and ghost-hunting enthusiasts to this day.

Penny Lane Sign

Among the most popular sights is the iconic Penny Lane street sign. Once plagued by those pesky souvenir hunters (sign thiefs) we mentioned earlier, the city officials have resorted to creative measures, painting the street name on buildings and walls. However, the allure of the original signs persisted and you’ll see lots of people queuing for photos.

Shelter in the Middle of the Roundabout

In the song's era, this bus depot, a distinctive shelter in the middle of a roundabout, was extremely busy each dauy. While the shelter remains, it lacks Beatles-related significance, serving merely as a relic of the past.

Penny Lane Barber Shop

Contrary to popular belief, this isn't the establishment where The Beatles famously sported their mop-top haircuts. Instead, the authentic Penny Lane barbers, once known as Bioletti's, under Tony Slavin's ownership, remains active.

Penny Lane 7
- Loco Steve

Former Bank on Penny Lane

Adjacent to the bus shelter is the former TSB bank, once occupied by the "banker with a motorcar" mentioned in the song. Though the bank closed its doors in 2021, it's a spot to visit along your Beatles/Penny Lane pilgrimage.

Penny Lane Fire Station

While the fire station referenced in the song still exists nearby, at the intersection of Mather Avenue and Rose Lane, it no longer serves its original purpose. Scheduled for housing redevelopment, the fire station's original red doors are preserved at a nearby location.

Penny Lane Development Trust

While not explicitly mentioned in the song, this community centre exudes Beatles charm, housing an array of memorabilia and facts. Visitors are greeted warmly by Julie, the knowledgeable curator, and can peruse Beatles-themed murals, a gift shop, and even a yellow submarine on the premises. Additionally, the trust offers insights into The Quarrymen, John Lennon's precursor band, with original members still residing in the area.

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- Loco Steve

Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Treasure Hunts In Liverpool - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of England.

Or for more of The Beatles in Liverpool read our blog about Eleanor Rigby.


What you need to know

Penny Lane
70 Penny Lane Next Door To The Dovedale Towers, Liverpool L18 1DG
53.387440, -2.918431
Tips before you visit