Jan 23 2014 by Jamie Bowman, Ormskirk Advertiser
John Lennon’s lost summer building Scarisbrick waterworks revealed in new book
HE WAS the voice of a generation who led the most successful band of all time, but for six weeks in 1959, John Lennon was nothing more than a teenage labourer working at Scarisbrick waterworks.
John’s unexpected job history was revealed in a recent exhaustive biography of The Beatles.
Author Mark Lewisohn’s book, Tune In, tells the story of the band’s early days from their childhoods in Liverpool until the release of their first single, Love Me Do, in 1962.
The biography reveals that when Lennon was 18, his art school friend, Tony Carricker, secured the pair a summer job through his dad, who was a general foreman on a building site in Scarisbrick.
Mark said: “A new waterworks was being constructed and Tony had fixed it for himself and John to be general labourers for the summer, on good money – about £5 a week.”
John’s inspiration to take the job was unsurprisingly musical and every penny from the back-breaking work went towards buying his first electric guitar.
The future legend began working at Mill Brow water treatment centre on Southport Road on July 20, 1959 and was soon finding it a tough experience, as Tony revealed to Mark.
“He absolutely hated it,” said Tony.
“He told me he used to pray every morning the train would crash.”
John was forced to get the train as Tony and his dad lived in Widnes and so were unable to pick him up from his Woolton home on the way.
“As the working day began at eight, John had to get up around five, which for a teenager who loved sleep and hated going to bed early was a constant problem,” said Mark.
“His journey entailed train changes and a crosstown walk before he got to distant Ormskirk where the Carrickers would collect him. If John was late and missed them he had to make further train changes to end up at Bescar Lane.
“From there he would trudge along country lanes to the building site.”
The two friends would then use pickaxes and shovels to help ready the ground for the construction of the new water pumping station.
But Tony coped better than his pal. He said: “Once the hands stopped bleeding, after a couple of weeks, I could enjoy it but John hated every minute of it – he had no physical reserves at all.”
John’s employment came to an end on August 28 when he was sacked after burning a kettle – the reason for his departure is given on his work card as “Unsuitable”.
On the same day John put down a £17 deposit for a Hofner Club 40 guitar – and the rest is history.
Helen Wilson at United Utilities said: “It’s amazing to think that those water board wages helped pay for such an important guitar.
“Mill Brow is undergoing a multi-million pound upgrade at the moment – it makes you wonder if there are any more budding songwriters on the payroll today!”