Cavern News

Behind the Scenes: Magical Myster Tour guide Jay Johnson Unveils His Role in the successful campaign to Honour George Harrison

Thursday, 7 March 2024

On 23rd February, 2024 Historic England announced across media outlets that George Harrison would be honoured with a prestigious Blue Paque to be positioned at the late-great Beatle’s childhood home and birthplace in Liverpool.

12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool was the birthplace of George Harrison on 25th February 1942. The humble ‘2-up,2 down’ terrace house was the Harrison family home until George was 7 years old.

The BBC reported how The Historic England scheme had been limited to the capital for 150 years.

Unveiling the first of the national blue plaques, arts and heritage minister Lord Parkinson said he looked forward to “recognising more people who have made their mark on national life”.

He referred to George Harrison as “… music icon, songwriter and humanitarian George Harrison…”

But the revelation of this announcement was no surprise to one Beatles tour guide, Jay Johnson who had been playing a part in this important campaign for two years previously.

Jay tells us about how he came to be involved following a chance meeting outside number 12 Arnold Grove:

I have been guiding Beatles tours for people all around the world for nearly 2 decades. It’s always a pleasure showing Beatles fans where George Harrison was born, but I always get asked the same question – why is there no ‘blue plaque’ on the house?

“For over two years I had been contacting various different organisations in a bid to get a blue plaque placed at number 12 Arnold Grove, in honour of George Harrison.

Through my investigations, I found it surprising and strange that the only thing stopping Historic England was geography.

One day in December, I was explaining to some passengers for the umpteenth time exactly why there was no blue plaque, when I received a tap on my shoulder. A lady called Dr Emily Cole, Senior Architectural Investigator for Heritage England introduced herself to me. To my amazement and joy, she announced that she was in Liverpool to ascertain which one of three potential properties that were former homes of George, would be the right one to honour him with a Historic England plaque.

I was over the moon to convey mine and many other tireless campaigners’ points forward as to why it should be number 12 Arnold Grove. I was thrilled to know that two years of effort hadn’t fallen on deaf ears!

A few days later I received an email saying that the site I championed had been granted permission to receive the prestigious Historic England mark.”

Historic England’s national blue plaque scheme celebrates people throughout history who have made significant and positive contributions to human welfare or happiness. England is running the new national blue plaque scheme on behalf of the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS)

Jay Johnson adds:

It’s great news for the City of Liverpool, for tourism and for Beatles fans all around the world. It will be a special day when the plaque is put in place, one that I will be proud of. Now when I’m on my tour – I’ll have a different story to tell the visitors and I won’t get asked the question “why is there no blue plaque?!”