The Cavern Club is back at 8-10 Mathew Street, an authentic and evocative location that attracts visitors, audiences and bands from across the world. Not only is it the ultimate place of pilgrimage for fans of the Beatles, it’s an iconic live music venue with its own story to tell.
1980s - Top Facts
9 December 1980
Britain woke up to the news that John Lennon had been shot dead in New York. In Liverpool, dazed fans gathered in Mathew Street at the site of the original Cavern Club to mourn his loss and leave messages of condolence.
7 December 1981
Plans were revealed to excavate the buried remains of the Cavern Club cellar. It would form part of a £7-million redevelopment project of the former warehouse site of 8-12 Mathew Street which had housed the Cavern Club up until its closure in 1973.
23 June 1982
It was announced by the project architect David Backhouse, that the plans to excavate and re-open the Cavern Club in its original form would not be possible for structural reasons.
Tests had revealed the arches of the old cellar had been too badly damaged during the demolition of the ground floor of the Cavern Club and the warehouses above.
26 August 1983
Thousands of bricks from the damaged archways of the original cellar area of the Cavern Club went on sale at £5 each, complete with an authentication plate signed by former Cavern Club owner Ray McFall. Proceeds from the sale of the 5000 bricks went to Strawberry Field Children’s home.
A further 15,000 bricks from the Cavern site were used on the authentic reconstruction of the Cavern Club within the redevelopment.
19 March 1984
Prior to the Cavern Club’s opening ceremony over 100 musicians from the 1960s Mersey Beat era were invited to sign the wall at the back of the Cavern’s stage, a tradition which began in the early days of the Jazz bands in the 1950s and continued through the 60s and 70s.
26 April 1984
A new beginning with the re-opening of the Cavern Club and Cavern Walks shopping centre with offices above. The landlords, Royal Life Insurance leased the Club to former Liverpool FC player Tommy Smith and his business partner George Downey. The new development was now significantly larger with the Abbey Road pub at ground level.
The authentic reconstruction of the Cavern Club was below ground level and included a bar, restaurant and memorabilia shop.
EMI released an album containing original Beatles and Merseybeat tracks to celebrate this historic opening.
25 August 1985
Cavern City Tours present their first event at the Cavern Club over the Beatles Convention Weekend. The Beatles Freak Ball includes a Beatles disco and tribute bands The Fab Four and Mojo Filter.
17 October 1985
Reports in the local press reveal that the Cavern Club and Abbey Road Pub had been sold and that the new owners are to get rid of the Beatles flavour of the new development as they didn’t feel there was any mileage left in the Beatles name.
The new theme would be a modern disco and contemporary music. The plans failed and within 18 months the lease changed hands again.
A local company called Goldaden took over the combined lease of the Cavern Club and Abbey Road Pub however within weeks they had gone into receivership. Both premises remained open and The Cavern Club was managed by a local accountant on behalf of the receiver.
As a result of this third change of ownership in less than three years the landlords, Royal Life made the decision to separate the lease and the Abbey Road Pub and the Cavern Club became separate entities. James McVitie became the new owner of The Cavern Club and he immediately turned the business fortunes of the venue around by introducing live music on a Saturday afternoon with disco dance music in the evenings.
3 December 1989
Following a serious assault on a customer which led to jail sentences for the owners, the Cavern Club lost it licence and was closed by the Licensing Authority.
The 80s had proved to be the most turbulent time in the Cavern Club’s roller coaster history.