Unusual Venues: Going underground

Ben Lerwill visits the Beatles Story to learn about the C&I merits of the 'new' Cavern Club.

Jerry Goldman, director, the Beatles Story, Liverpool

- What exactly is the Beatles Story?

The venue is laid out as a permanent museum that takes visitors through the life of The Beatles, from the birth of the four band members until the break-up. It's done through a display of memorabilia, storyboards and dioramas. We've got John Lennon's round spectacles, George Harrison's first guitar - things like that. There are audio guides too, so you have people like Paul McCartney and Brian Epstein explaining aspects of the band's career. That's the broader exhibition, but within that we have a complete life-size replica of the Cavern Club. The original Matthew Street club was sadly pulled down by the council, so this is as close as you'll get. We're located in Liverpool's Albert Dock, close to the site of the Arena & Convention Centre.

- What can groups expect from an evening hire?

We would usually put a Beatles tribute band on stage - the noise is tremendous and the whole experience basically takes people back to the early 1960s. We open up the total exhibition, so guests can take their time wandering around the various attractions before holding the function itself down in the Cavern Club. Depending on what sort of event the organisers have in mind, we can cater for anywhere between 40 and 100.

- Can you cater for sit-down dinners?

Absolutely. We've also got a replica of the original Matthew Street, so caterers tend to lay out a buffet with hot food, which guests can take into the Cavern Club. The bar in the club is opened up for drinks, so it works well. We host formal dinners too - for recent events we've had tables in the Cavern Club and also in the part of the exhibition that replicates the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. After dinner, we generally clear away the tables so guests can get on with dancing.

- Which kinds of groups have used the facility?

We have all sorts. There have been a lot of pharmaceutical companies recently, and we had a big banking client just the other week, which has already booked again. A lot of local businesses use the venue too. We've been open for 15 years but the exhibition has changed dramatically in the past three or four - there's more to it now.

- How far ahead do groups need to book?

You would generally need a lead-time of two to three months at the moment, but that will change dramatically next year when the city becomes European Capital of Culture. We're already getting bookings from firms that have conferences coming up next June, and we're expecting the corporate hospitality and product launch side of things to become even busier by then.

- How much should groups expect to pay?

For exclusive hire packages, the cost starts at around £1,000.

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