Beatles' Strawberry Fields gates removed

Beatles fans outside Strawberry Fields in Liverpool.

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The ornate iron gates of a children's home which inspired John Lennon's psychedelic Beatles anthem Strawberry Fields Forever have been removed.

The Salvation Army, which owns the former home, is putting the red Victorian gates into storage.

It means Beatles fans who pass the Woolton site on bus tours will now be met with 10ft (3m) high replicas.

The charity said fans would still get an "authentic experience", but one tour guide said they were "aghast".

Replicas of the 100-year-old wrought iron gates have been made by metal work specialist Jim Bennett, from Aigburth, and given to The Salvation Army.

'Musical pilgrimage'

The originals are being taken to a secret location for storage, but could eventually be auctioned off.

The long-term future of the site, which closed in 2005, is yet to be determined but the charity hopes to develop a centre for children with learning disabilities.

"Although care has been taken to ensure the original gates to the site have remained in good condition, inevitably time has taken its toll," said Maj Ray Irving, director of social services for The Salvation Army.

"This means that the original gates can be kept safe from further deterioration and with the replica gates in place, allow for an authentic experience for the many thousands of people who come on a 'musical pilgrimage' to Strawberry Field."

Lennon wrote Strawberry Fields Forever, which was released in 1967, from his memories of playing in the area as a child.

Strawberry Field entrance The Salvation Army said time had taken its toll on the original gates

The site remains a popular stop on tours of the city's Beatles landmarks and Paul Beesley, chair of the Association of Liverpool Tour Guides, said he was worried about the effect of the gates' removal.

He said: "Last night I was bringing a group here and I decided to tell them they would have been the very final group who would see the gates and they were absolutely aghast."

Mr Beesley said he would like to see the gates placed in a museum, but that uncertainty over their future was not helpful.

"We don't know what's going to happen to them - that's really worrying and I know the fans are not going to be happy."

The original Strawberry Field, which housed a large number of children who had been taken into care, was demolished in the early 1970s and replaced with a smaller building.

It closed in May 2005 and has since been used by community groups and various Salvation Army projects.

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