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Strawberry Fields is not forever

The Beatles
Strawberry Field

LONDON, England -- The children's home that inspired the Beatles' hit song "Strawberry Fields Forever" is to close.

The Salvation Army, which now runs the Strawberry Field (with no "s") home in Liverpool, England, said Wednesday it was taking the step due to the current trend of placing children with foster families rather than in institutions.

The Christian charity said only three children remain at the home in the city's Woolton district.

"We have to give two years' notice of closure, which we did yesterday (Tuesday), but there is no precise date for closure yet," said Marion Drew, divisional leader for the northwest region.

"The three children currently staying there will be found foster homes. That was always the plan for them, so they will not be affected by the closure," she said.

"We have around 30 staff at the home, who we will try to re-locate, although we cannot give any guarantees."

Drew said no decision has been made on the fate of the building or its famous gates, which have become a landmark for Beatles fans paying homage to John Lennon, who wrote the song.

"Strawberry Fields Forever" was released as a single in February 1967 with "Penny Lane" on the reverse side. It made it to No. 2 in the British charts, although it was kept out of the top slot by Engelbert Humperdinck's "Release Me." (In America, the song peaked at No. 8.)

Strawberry Field opened in 1936 on Beaconsfield Road in Liverpool, a short distance from Lennon's childhood home.

It has been suggested that Lennon felt a kinship with the orphans after he was abandoned by his father and his mother Julia sent him to live with his Aunt Mimi, who raised him.

Lennon, who was shot dead by a crazed fan in 1980, left money to the home in his will. In 1984, his widow Yoko Ono donated more than £50,000 (then $70,000) to keep the facility open.

Strawberry Fields lives on as the name of a memorial garden in New York's Central Park, close to the spot where Lennon was shot.

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