Thursday 16 March 2023

Behind That Locked Door: Inside the Harrison family home

25 Upton Green,
Liverpool L24

When Beatles' historian Steve Bradley invited me and a few friends over for breakfast at the former home of George Harrison on Sunday morning, the opportunity to photograph the house from top to bottom was too good to miss. To amuse ourselves we also tried to recreate every known photograph of George at the house.

I remembered to bring some props, Steve remembered the buns, but did anyone remember the matches and candles?

25 Upton Green, the Harrison's family home from January 1950 until August 1962. 

The hallway leading to the kitchen and rear garden beyond. 

George was six when he moved here.  He would later tell the Beatles' biographer Hunter Davies that having previously only ever lived in a tiny two up, two down terraced house he found that here he could go from the hall to the sitting room, then into the kitchen, then into the hall again and back into the sitting-room. "I just ran around and round it all that first day".

From the hall you turn right into the sitting room at the front of the house.  The doors on the left take you through to the kitchen / diner.

The kitchen / diner. 

The house now has a modern fitted kitchen but in the Harrison's time the units were freestanding.  The green unit on the left of this photo is believed to be original, from the Harrison's time at Upton Green.  For many years it was standing in the outhouse in the back garden, used by the family who moved into the house in 1962 to store tools and equipment. I took the photo below in 2017.

Unfortunately it was vandalised when the outhouse was broken into by local youths and thrown into the back garden where it remained, until the author helped the then owner bring it into the house for safety.  It was, to use my best Ringo impersonation voice ' Bladdy heavy'.

The modern kitchen (photo: Steve Bradley)

The current owner, Ken Lambert from Massachusetts, America purchased the house at auction in late 2021 with his bid of £171,000 eventually winning.  Being friendly with the previous owner I have visited the property on several occasions and I was interested to see what changes Ken had made to the house since then. Had he followed the example set by the National Trust, owners of the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and restored the house to look like a 1950s replica of the Harrison home, or had he gone the other way, fully modernising it for the benefit of his Airbnb guests? The answer is a bit of both.  

A view from the top of the stairs. 

George's bedroom, which he shared with his older brothers Peter and Harry.  

Around 1954 George bought his first guitar from a lad at his school called Raymond Hughes.  Although it was a 'real cheapo horrible little guitar' George thought it was ok at the time. One day, he noticed a bolt on the back of the guitar's neck and letting curiosity get the better of him, he decided to unscrew it.  The neck fell off and George couldn't get it back on again properly so he the guitar in two pieces in the cupboard in his bedroom. 

There it stayed (George remembered it might have been there for as long as a year) until his brother Peter fixed it back together, 

The cupboard where George hid the guitar. It is now hidden by the sliding doors of the fitted wardrobe.

Louise's bedroom

As the only daughter,  George's sister Louise had her own bedroom until she went off to college, at which point Harry, the oldest brother moved into her vacated room.  He married in 1958 and moved out, at which point George and Peter finally had a bedroom each.

George's parents' bedroom. You might be surprised to learn that Harold and Louise did not have the largest of the three bedrooms. 

The landing looking towards the rear, with doors to the bathroom (left) and WC (right).

The bathroom (pre-2021, above) and now (below).  

There was no bathroom in the  Harrison's former home in Arnold Grove, Wavertree.  There a tin bath, hung on a hook in the backyard was brought in once a week, set down in front of the fire and filled with hot water, in which each of the Harrison children would take their turn, whether they were dirty or not.

Ken Lambert has kept the original enamel bath and LCC (Liverpool Corporation) wash basin but installed a shower for the comfort of his guests.  

The Quarry Men / Beatles rehearsed in this tiled room for the natural acoustic echo. 

George probably practiced in the toilet too, because as Paul would later confirm, "things sound better in the bog". (caveat: it probably depends who's playing)   

The back-garden.  Harold, George's Dad had a car as did George's older brother Harry, so this long driveway at the rear was useful. George would have parked his Ford Anglia here in 1962 before the Harrisons moved to Mackets Lane in the August of that year.

The Harrison family - Harry, Louise, George, Peter, Louise and Harold in the back garden of 25 Upton Green shortly after moving in.  The view behind them as seen today, 73 years on (below)

The outside loo.   Yesterday's papers to clean up. Watch for spiders!

I find it interesting that in a new build house with mod-cons which, in 1950, included central heating, a bathroom and an indoor toilet,  25 Upton Green also had a throwback to the past with and additional, outdoor toilet, as did Paul McCartney's council house in Forthlin Road. John Lennon in his posh, privately owned Menlove Avenue house only had one. For the Harrisons it was probably a welcome feature, and having to answer the call of nature outdoors in the darkness of winter was something they would all have grown up with.

The "All Things Must Pass" inspired mural on the wall of the outhouse. Nice job.

25 Upton Green: Then and Now

George in his carpet slippers on the rug in front of the bay window.

Photo collages by Angela Leighton-Jones

George and brother Peter in front of the fireplace, circa July-August 1961

All credit to the new owner's wife who sourced wallpaper that closely resembles the Harrison's original.

As mentioned earlier, John and Paul would come to the house to rehearse, encouraged to do so by George's mum. Paul lived practically in the next road but for John, the Speke estate was not familiar territory and his first visit to the house provided an amusing anecdote for the Beatles authorised biography in 1968. 

On entering the living room, George shouted 'Mum, here's John!' and John stepped forward to shake Louise's hand. Somehow he tripped over the rug, stumbled into her and the pair fell on top of each other on the sofa. With impeccable timing George's father Harold entered the room.  'What the hell's going on here?'  he asked, quite understandably.  'It's OK, Dad,' said George, 'it's only John', this seemingly being sufficient explanation to diffuse the situation. 

It is said that Louise enjoyed John's sense of humour, and he remained fond of her until she passed in 1970, sending George this postcard shortly afterwards. 

George acquired his Gretsch Duo Jet guitar in mid-July 1961, a couple of weeks after the Beatles returned from their second visit to Hamburg, and he sold his Futurama bottom left soon after, which helps date these pictures.

Airbnb guests staying at the house have access to guitars and a record player complete with Beatles records. You have to bring your own shoes though.

Mum Louise Harrison and her son George enjoying a tipple.

The bootleg "Louise" admiring her hairless son, "George". (George Hairless-son).

George off to a gig, photographed from the front door of 25 Upton Green. 

We suspect this photo might have been taken on Saturday 8 March 1958, the day Paul McCartney's cousin Ian married.  Paul, John and George performed at the reception where Paul's brother Michael took the first ever colour photographs of them together. This was one of, if not the, first appearance George made with the Quarry Men, and perhaps the Harrisons wanted a photo to mark the occasion.

There are a lot more cars than there were in 1958!  (photo: Steve Bradley)

Thanks to Steve Bradley (and son) for the invite,  Angela Leighton-Jones, Brian Lewis and Jackie Holmes for sharing in the fun.

Fancy staying here?  Here's a link: 25 Upton Green 

The Gore's (Kelly's) Directory for Upton Green in 1955

A letter George wrote while living at 25 Upton Green to Stuart Sutcliffe in Hamburg, circa 16 December 1960 (photographed by the author at the Hard Rock Cafe, Manchester)  

Harrison photographs (C) the Harrison family.  All text and modern photographs by me unless stated. 


  1. What a fun experience! And excellent t-shirt choice ;)

  2. Brilliant, as always. However, the Futurama was retained by George until the early days of fabdom. It was offered as a prize by Beat International magazine in 1964. The winner wanted cash and so Sean O'Mahoney kept the guitar. It was auctioned in April 2019 after Sean's death.
    The Daily Beatle have a good account of this story.

  3. Not sure if my previous comment got through or not. Possibly due to attaching a link.
    I mentioned the fact that George retained the Futurama until 1964 when it was offered as a prize in Beat International magazine. The competition winner wanted cash and so Sean O'Mahoney kept the guitar. It was auctioned after Sean's death in April 2019. The Daily Beatle blog has a good account of its history.
    The photo showing all George's guitars at that point suggests that George kept his Club 40 for longer than was previously realised, though its whereabouts are not currently known.