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Tuesday29 July 2014

EH criticised for listing ‘Beatles crossing’ while rejecting Ringo’s house

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Campaigners also upset at decision not to list Castle Market in Sheffield

Heritage campaigners have criticised English Heritage for recommending the “Beatles crossing” on Abbey Road for listing while rejecting Ringo Starr’s birthplace.

The zebra crossing where the Beatles created the cover for the eponymous album was listed at grade II by architecture minister John Penrose yesterday on the advice of English Heritage. The original crossing was moved several feet 30 years ago.

But in a decision not been made public till now, EH also recommended the minister not to list the small terraced house in Liverpool where the Beatles drummer spent the first four years of his life.

In a report accepted by Penrose, EH said: “After examining all the papers on this file and other relevant information and having carefully considered the architectural and historic interest of this case, the criteria for listing are not fulfilled.”

It said no new information had been supplied since it was last asked to consider listing 9 Madryn Street.

In a twist, the house is one of 440 in Toxteth earmarked for demolition under Labour Pathfinder programme.

They are currently the subject of a rescue attempt by SAVE Britain’s Heritage which has written to Communities minister Eric Pickles asking him to force the council to put them on the market. Pickles said he was “actively considering” the request.

William Palin, secretary of SAVE, called EH’s advice a “joke” and accused it of choosing a publicity stunt in London over the “political hot potato” of Pathfinder.

“How is it possible to argue that birthplace of Ringo Starr is less important than the Abbey Road crossing?” he said

“Madryn Street, which Ringo frequently refers to in his own writings and lyrics, draws in thousands of visitors from across the globe. It is in an area desperately trying to cling on to its historic identity in the face enforced blight and threatened destruction. The house and neighbourhood embody the romance of the Beatles story.”

Jonathan Brown, from Merseyside Civic Society, said: “These north-south double-standards show English Heritage at their most condescending and sniffy.”

Penrose said: “This London zebra crossing is no castle or cathedral but, thanks to the Beatles and a 10-minute photo-shoot one August morning in 1969, it has just as strong a claim as any to be seen as part of our heritage.”

An EH spokeswoman said: “The zebra crossing as been listed by the DCMS as a celebration of The Beatles’ renown, and for its phenomenally strong group value with the Abbey Road recording studios. We also got the former Casbah Club in Liverpool listed, and are currently looking at a number of other Beatles sites there.

“We also put up a blue plaque to John Lennon quite recently, so there is certainly no London bias. We did not recommend 9 Madryn Street for listing, however, as it lacks the undeniable Beatles connection of other sites, and is an otherwise unremarkable building historically and architecturally.

“Judgement is always needed in these cases but we are very keen to recognise modern cultural achievement wherever appropriate.”

Meanwhile in Sheffield, English Heritage’s decision not to list Andrew Derbyshire’s post-war Castle Market was welcomed by the council which believes it stands in the way of regeneration. EH said it did not display sufficient architecttural or historic merit.

But Paul Bower, an urban designer at the URBED Trust, praised its complex layout which had allowed intricate social spaces to emerge.

 

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Readers' comments (11)

  • The original crossing was not moved several feet thirty years ago, it is a myth. Still in the same place.

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  • Who cares anyway, dear god why are listing things like this? Its totally ridiculous. I did wonder what the impetus was behind trying to stop the pathfinder scheme in Liverpool, I hoped it was to save housing that could be easily renovated and reused, but no I guess it was for another Beatles museum in Liverpool.

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  • The zebra crossing should be kept, but SAVE are talking a load of nonsense as usual. Ringo Starr was a great musician but there is no need to list a place where he spent time as a toddler. It's not like he was some kind of God that we need to list the bench he sat on in the park, the bus stop he used, etc.

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  • "Ringo Starr was a great musician"

    Indeed. Rarely does a day go by without me putting "Don't Pass Me By" or "Octopus's Garden" on heavy rotation.

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  • “How is it possible to argue that birthplace of Ringo Starr is less important than the Abbey Road crossing?”

    Very easily - it's not as if he even lived in the house when he was a Beatle - he left it at four years old. There is NOTHING about that house that merits it being listed...

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  • Just think of the poor London taxi drivers who curse the blinking crossing used by every visiting rubber neck!
    Surely EH have got better things to do & list?

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  • Malcolm HECKS

    Let It Be ?

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  • I suppose it is understandable if EH dosen't want to be used as a rock to derail Pathfinder but do I hope something does the job.

    Listing a pedestrian crossing no matter who crossed it, when or why, is just absurd. Are EH looking for cheap popularity?

    The more serious error is in refusing listing to the Castle Market. One of the few places left in central Sheffield with some real character and quite enough quality to justify a stand against the bland.

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  • Sorry - appalling typing; that should have been 'I do' not 'do I' - of course.

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  • "Ringo Starr was a great musician"

    He's not dead, so that makes two errors in this statement

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