Spotlight on ...
Son of Wavertree

George Harrison was born at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, on 25th February 1943. He was the youngest of four children - one girl and three boys.
George's father, Harold, was a former ship's steward with the White Star Line, who came ashore in 1936 and found work 'on the buses': firstly as a conductor, then as a driver. George's mother Louise (née French) came from a large, close-knit family of Irish origin. She was a Roman Catholic, but Harold was not. Louise's mother lived in Albert Grove, just around the corner from the Harrisons' house, and George recalled regularly slipping out of the back door and along the 'jiggers' to visit his grandmother.

Pictures of 12 Arnold Grove (above) and Young George (above right) from 'I Me Mine' by George Harrison (Simon and Schuster, New York 1980)

No.12 Arnold Grove - which is today one of the main stopping-points on the daily Magical Mystery Tour of the Beatles' Liverpool - was built in the 1890s as a two-up, two-down terraced house, just off Wavertree High Street. It was (and is) very small, yet Harold and Louise lived there with their four children until George was about six years old. The rent, they recalled, was ten shillings a week.
George's memories of the house will strike a chord with many others brought up in the same era: 'The front room was never used. It had the posh lino and a three-piece suite, was freezing cold and no-one ever went in it. We huddled together in the kitchen, where the fire was, with the kettle on, and a little iron cooking stove'. The family kept cockerels for a time, in the paved yard at the back, which also contained 'a one-foot-wide flowerbed' and, of course, the toilet at the back and zinc bathtub hanging on the wall.
George was the baby of the family, but was renowned as a very independent child. At the age of two-and-a-half (his mother recalled in 1969) he would go to Mrs Quirk the butcher's and confidently ask for 'three-quarters of best pork sausages, please' - though his face was barely level with the shop counter.
His first school was Dovedale Infants, just off Penny Lane. George remembered 'the smell of boiled cabbage, a little girl who had blond curly hair, and a Peter Pan house in the corner of the room'.
Harold and Louise had been on Liverpool Corporation's re-housing list for about 18 years when, in 1949, the opportunity came for them to move to a brand new council house on the Speke estate: at 25 Upton Green. George continued to attend Dovedale Primary School, however, until progressing to the Liverpool Institute. A fellow pupil at Dovedale was John Lennon, though he and George were unaware of one another owing to the two-and-a-half year age gap.
George had much to thank his parents for. Harold had played a guitar while in the merchant navy, and Louise was one of the few Beatle parents to have positively encouraged her son's interest in rock'n'roll music. In 1965, having become rich and famous, George bought his parents a bungalow in Appleton, outside Warrington.
Apart from music and Eastern religion, George was interested in architecture and gardening. His English home in later years was Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames: an ornate Victorian mansion complete with landscaped grounds and a network of underground waterways. Through his Material World Charitable Foundation, he was one of the main sponsors of Liverpool's Sefton Park Palm House restoration project.
George Harrison, guitarist and composer, died of cancer in Los Angeles on 29th November 2001. George still remembered Wavertree and Liverpool with affection. Wavertree - and the world - will long remember George.

© COPYRIGHT 2002 Mike Chitty

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Page created 25 January 2002 by MRC.