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