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01st May, 2023

The Beatles Story turns 33

The Beatles Story today is celebrating its 33rd birthday since first opening its doors on 1st May 1990. The award-winning attraction was conceived in the minds of husband-and-wife team Mike and Bernadette (Bernie) Byrne in 1987 after a visit to America with a previous Beatles attraction, Beatle City. That experience formed the basis for their idea of a new attraction, The Beatles Story, which has since welcomed millions of visitors from across the world.

Mike and the architects.

The previous exhibition travelled in August 1987 to Dallas, Texas and in just over 4 months welcomed more than 40,000 visitors from across America. However, there was still no sign of the city of Liverpool embracing the idea for a new Beatles’ attraction, despite it being the birthplace of the Fab Four. 

At the end of 1987, Mike and Bernie returned to Liverpool with their dream burning ever brighter. Their idea was to be totally unique to a museum as it would not rely solely on memorabilia but was to be an ‘immersive experience', taking visitors back in time to recreate the feel of the '60s and tell the story of the world’s greatest band.

“Having seen the international appeal of The Beatles first-hand Bernadette and I were getting more frustrated by the lack of a permanent Beatles tribute in the city. We knew that The Beatles were to Liverpool what Shakespeare was to Stratford.”

Whilst Mike was a Merseybeat musician himself and acquaintance of The Beatles, Bernadette was a Cavern regular who had a closer relationship with the band, particularly George Harrison whom she dated in the early 60s.

Bernie and George Harrison

Despite having little money, experience or support, the couple spent years sourcing memorabilia and artefacts, whilst gathering information and first-hand accounts from people who knew the band at a time when information wasn’t easily accessible on the internet as it is today.

It took two long years of research and development to get the project off the ground. The couple worked alongside the architects, set and graphic designers to project-manage the exhibition from start to finish. Both felt it was important to have the right tourist location and the redeveloping waterfront location on the Albert Dock fitted the bill perfectly.

Bernie had also kept a few treasured items from her time with the George, including a pink handwritten note and a postcard he had sent to her from Tenerife, both of which can been seen on display at The Beatles Story, alongside other incredible artefacts such as George Harrison’s first guitar, John Lennon’s last piano and Ringo’s drumkit.

“I got a note through my front door from George asking me to call him. I’ve still got that note. I must have known it might be of interest one day!”

George Harrison's note to Bernie

The Beatles Story opened in May 1990 and was a critical success from day one. Across the years it has won numerous prestigious awards and by its 25th anniversary, the attraction had welcomed more than four million visitors, boosting the Liverpool economy by an estimated £300m.

With Beatles’ tourism now being one of the key drivers for Liverpool’s visitor economy, Mike and Bernie’s idea and passion has most certainly been a key factor in putting Liverpool firmly on the map as a pilgrimage for not just Beatles fans but also educating visitors from all generations and helped to make it into the incredible, vibrant ‘UNESCO City of Music’ it is today.

Mike and Bernie’s amazing and uniquely personal journey is told in their book ‘The Birth of The Beatles Story’ which is on sale in The Fab4 Store at The Beatles Story, Albert Dock. You're invited to get your copy signed on The Beatles Story's 33rd anniversary on 1st May 2023 from 11am at The Fab4 Cafe, Royal Albert Dock.


Diane Glover

Diane is Marketing Manager at The Beatles Story and an enthusiastic ambassador for the city of Liverpool.

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