'Flushed With Success'

On a typical opening over 750 people would be served with Coca-Cola and soup. The hot, sweaty atmosphere would make them drink more and, in turn, visits to the inadequate toilets would increase - as many as 2,000 flushes would take place in a single session. Multiply that by a week's activity in the club and it's plain to see that something had to give, and give it did. Liverpool has an underground railway and part of its tunnel system, a connecting tunnel that was used by the drivers to change carriages, passed almost directly under The Cavern.

The drivers noticed that water was seeping down on them and they complained about the smell. An analysis was made of the water and it was discovered that it was human sewage, the source of which was traced back to The Cavern.

The drainage system was simply unable to cope with the amount of sewage coming from The Cavern's overloaded toilets and a huge cesspit had built up which was seeping through the brickwork on to the railway workers. The Cavern was told that it would have to close until the cesspit was cleared and a new drainage system built with new toilets.

The cost of this work was estimated at £3,500, a fantastic amount of money at the time. Closure was temporarily delayed when a company on the ground floor allowed The Cavern's customers to use their toilets. However, it was doomed from the start - the company became increasingly horrified by the mess being made and the Cavern staff grew tired of having to clean the toilets at midnight after the evening session - and so arrived the end of an era.

It wasn't just the toilet facilities that led to the closure of The Cavern - the failure of its recording studio and records was also a contributing factor. Another was that the club was still unlicensed and, with other clubs around the area providing licensed premises, The Cavern's profitability suffered. It could also be said that The Cavern's main attraction had gone. With The Beatles no longer there, most of the other bands that played at the club could also be seen elsewhere. Times were a-changing and the music listened to by the youngsters was going through a radical transformation as 1966 turned into 1967, a definitive year for music.


 'End Of An
Era'

The inevitable came on a cold Sunday night in February 1966. Rory Storm and The Hurricanes performed on that night, together with local band The Hideaways, who became the last band to perform on the famous Cavern stage. The Cavern's legendary DJ, Bob Wooler, announced to the crowd of crying teenagers that the club was to close that night as the bailiffs were coming in the morning. The club remained open all night and people were let in for free. At six in the morning chairs were placed at the bottom of the stone steps into The Cavern and the front door was shut, with the remaining people barricading themselves in as a last desperate attempt at delaying the inevitable. When the police arrived shortly afterwards it was decided that enough was enough. They were let in to escort the remaining people from the building and that was that - the home of The Beatles was officially closed and the official receivers, following bankruptcy proceedings, sold The Cavern.


'Hippy Daze'

While closed, The Cavern had attracted considerable interest from potential buyers including businessmen and even a consortium of fans called New Cavern Ltd. Eventually, The Cavern was purchased by Joe Davey, a local bar owner, and was re-opened on 23rd July 1966. The club was officially opened by the then Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, who was presented with a pipe made out of wood from the original Cavern stage. The club desperately tried to recapture the original atmosphere which made it so popular and famous, but sadly The Cavern had changed forever. The 'new' Cavern was a licensed venue and, hence, had a much older clientele. The old days of kids bunking off school to attend lunchtime shows had gone forever - The Cavern was now for grown-ups. As the kids left so did the soft drinks and crisps, the replacement coming in the form of drugs. By the end of the 60's and the beginning of the 70's a 'drug culture' had swept the nation and the developed world as we know it. Under the guise of 'love and peace' the hippie was born and so, too, was LSD.

The emergence of this new sub-culture spread to the shores of Liverpool and thence to the smoke-filled dance floors of The Cavern club. For some, the early 70's was a great period for The Cavern with the likes of Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, Supertramp and Judas Priest playing there and the club continued to be popular. During the early Seventies the club acquired a new owner, Roy Adams, but the same old problems came back. The underground railway was to be extended and The Cavern's site was needed for an extraction duct. The local council served the club with a compulsory purchase order which was impossible to fight and the decision was made to close The Cavern for the final time. On 27th May 1973 the bulldozers moved in and Liverpool's most famous venue was buried under demolition rubble. After the extraction duct was completed, the remainder of the site was levelled and the now waste land became a temporary car park.

Roy Adams decided to open another club, across the road from The Cavern's original site, in a group of warehouses called The Fruit Exchange. The new club was called first 'The New Cavern', later 'Cavern Mecca', and held over 2,000 people. Local sculptor Arthur Dooley put a representation of The Beatles on the outside wall with the inscription 'Four lads who shook the world' - a work of art which is still in place to this day. Following the tragedy of John Lennon's death the statue has been used as a focal point for fans to leave their flowers and poems of remembrance.

By 1976 times had really changed - the club continued on with a number of new owners until it was bought by Roger Eagle, who changed the name of the club to Eric's, and it became a leading venue for the new type of music sweeping not only Liverpool but Britain - New Wave and Punk.Groups like The Clash and a number of new local bands again started to spring up around Merseyside leading to a second explosion of Liverpool talent - Elvis Costello, China Crisis, Echo and The Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, O.M.D, Wah! to name but a few.
Cavern Mecca

Following the change of musical preference from Punk and New Wave into the 80s and the emergence of bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, the club scene again changed into more disco-oriented music and Eric's suffered the same fate as The Cavern club before it and it, too, closed its doors under bankruptcy proceedings.