'The Rebirth'

In the early Eighties, eleven years after its last closure, the unimaginable happened - The Cavern was to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes - well almost! The interest shown in Liverpool by fans around the world had finally come to the attention of the local council. Liverpool had not really been thought of as a tourist centre and its links to British pop music's greatest export had not been capitalised on at all. For years Liverpool had been receiving large numbers of tourists, fans and sightseers from all over the world, although no official Beatles tours had yet been organised. The local tourist board was receiving increasing numbers of requests for information concerning Beatles-related sites and the council responded by producing a number of sightseeing maps showing various places of interest, but it soon became clear that this was not enough.

Following the tragic death of John Lennon on 9th December 1980 the city of Liverpool was again in the centre spotlight as hundreds of thousands of fans from all over the world flooded to the city to pay their respects. The local council finally decided to invest in the area and provide a lasting memorial to the legacy of The Beatles. Around the same time a local company called 'Backhouse' (owned by Liverpool architect David Backhouse), motivated by the death of John Lennon, approached the local council with the idea of redeveloping the Mathew Street area. His idea was to build a shopping centre with a special theme in remembrance of The Beatles and, more importantly, he wanted to build a 'new' Cavern club. Royal Life, (part of the Royal Insurance group who merged with SunAlliance in 1996 to become Royal & SunAlliance) who had very strong historical links with the city since 1845, were approached as potential backers for the ambitious project. These are not to be confused with Royal Liver Assurance whose main company headquarters is the distinctive Liver Building, an imposing edifice that is a feature of Liverpool's Mersey waterfront skyline.

Meetings were followed by more meetings and eventually permission was finally given for the go ahead. The original plan was to rebuild the old Cavern as it was thought that the underground club would still be intact below the hastily-built car park above it. Unfortunately, on careful examination by structural engineers, it was discovered that the club's ceilings and general fabric had collapsed so the original Cavern could never be resurrected.

The area above the club was also important as this was required for the building of the shopping centre. As portions of the land were owned by Mersey Railways, having been acquired during the original demolition of The Cavern in 1973, it was decided to scrap plans to rebuild the original Cavern and build a replica Cavern underneath the new shopping centre to be sited further down Mathew Street. For this task it was decided to re-use bricks from the now-excavated original Cavern.

Over 15,000 bricks from the old Cavern were used in the reconstruction and, over the weeks of building, quite a few disappeared as many local people took away their own little piece of rock history but 5000 of the original bricks were saved and sold off by the Royal Life company in 1983 for £7.00 each. A plaque certifying their authenticity (see left) was glued to each brick with the proceeds being donated to a local charity. All of the bricks were sold out within the first year and in the late 1980s one was re-sold at auction for over £500 by Sotheby's.

'The New Cavern'
The new Cavern is a mock-up of the old, smaller than the original, although it does fill 50% of the original site and retains its original postal address. Other differences are that it is deeper set than the original and the stage is placed to the left as you enter down the stairs (it was facing you in the original) and the original band room is placed at the back of the stage as opposed to the side in the original.
The new Cavern also contains a bar area with a new room to one side that contains a large purpose-built stage where many local and international acts have performed, most notable being Paul McCartney's triumphant return to the site of The Cavern in 1999.

The large warehouses that once stood on Mathew Street now contain a vast shopping centre that contains several floors of offices, a Beatles theme pub, a restaurant called Abbey Road and over thirty shops selling everything from designer clothes to confectionery and Beatles souvenirs. The whole of the redeveloped Mathew Street was renamed Cavern Walks and the surrounding area is now known as the Cavern Quarter.
The Cavern Quarter

'The Other Cavern'

Even though the original longer exists there are, in fact, still two 'Caverns' in Liverpool. To see the other one, take a journey to Liverpool's seafront and visit The Albert Dock complex which is the home of 'The Beatles Story', a fascinating multimedia exhibition devoted to the Fab Four.

Although not a museum in the strictest sense, visitors are taken on a journey back into the past to relive the great days of The Beatles in visual and audio displays that recreate the sights and sounds of The Beatles rise to world wide fame.

There, holding pride of place, is a recreation of the centre arch of the first Cavern club containing the stage and band room.

The original site may have no lasting formal recognition with the echoes of its past finally having been laid to rest, but in the hearts and minds of local people and Cavern dwellers everywhere, the sounds that echoed from its older brother's walls will live on forever in the memories and imagination of all who visit this tiny cellar in Mathew Street each year.