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11 Abbey Roads can confuse Beatles fans searching for history

A man walks in the crossing made famous on the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road in front of Abbey Road Studios, at left. London has at least 11 Abbey Roads, and mishaps have been exacerbated by the new Abbey Road Station in a distant part of the capital.

Associated Press (2010)

A man walks in the crossing made famous on the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road in front of Abbey Road Studios, at left. London has at least 11 Abbey Roads, and mishaps have been exacerbated by the new Abbey Road Station in a distant part of the capital.

LONDON — It's a mystery tour, but it's hardly magical.

More than 9 miles from the striped crosswalk made famous by the Beatles album Abbey Road, this drab transit station in east London keeps drawing confused fans of the Fab Four into jaunts through a gritty, industrial area just south of London's Olympic Stadium.

Abbey Road Station has no relation to the Beatles' Abbey Road Studios, the birthplace of the eponymous album and a London tourist landmark. The glass and metal station is wedged among a train depot, warehouses and gloomy public housing projects, a world away from the leafy suburban street pictured on the album's cover.

It didn't take long for American visitor Christie Johnson, 22, to figure out she was in the wrong place.

"It didn't look right," the Denver resident said. She and her embarrassed host — English student Melody Vettraino — wanted to see the iconic crosswalk on a whim.

At the nearby Star Newsagents convenience store, 36-year-old Paramjeet Kaur said the store sees about a dozen Beatles fans a day.

Outside, Nathan Johnson, 19, said he constantly sees visitors stride across the small, uneven intersection outside the station to re-create the pose struck by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison on the 1969 album cover — even if the newcomers have come to the wrong place.

London counts at least 11 Abbey Roads, with potential tourist pitfalls in neighborhoods like Barking or Bexleyheath, both of which are on the outer edges of central London. In the British capital as elsewhere, the common street name harkens back to the medieval priories that once dotted the area.

But Abbey Road Station, which opened last year, is the only one in London to bear the name. Given the Beatles connection, some have urged the capital's transit authority to modify its maps.

There are no plans to change the station's name, officials with Transport for London said this month. Spokesman Allan Ramsey said it is unfortunate that some visitors get confused but that the problem could be remedied if visitors just did their homework.

Christie Johnson, a semiprofessional soccer player, said she wasn't too disappointed to have gone to the wrong Abbey Road, explaining that she wasn't that big of a Beatles fan anyway.

She said she mostly just wanted a picture of herself on the famous crosswalk to show her friends. Now, she'll have a different story to tell.

"I'll say we tried," she said. "It'll get a good laugh."

At the London Beatles Store, which sells Fab Four memorabilia, owner Howard Cohen said the mixup over the location of the studio is not new — because there are so many Abbey Roads in London — but that the mishaps have been exacerbated by the new Abbey Road Station in a distant part of the capital.

"We get so many people coming in looking for the studios that we have maps printed up with directions, free, as a service," he said. "It's a bit confusing."

Even worse, he said, are the hapless tourists who arrive at Liverpool Street Station in central London and think they are in Liverpool, the Beatles' hometown.

"They ask how to get to Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields," he said. The answer, sadly, is 210 miles to the north.

The real Abbey Road

How to get to the Beatles' Abbey Road: From central London, take the Jubilee Line north to St. John's Wood Station. Then walk west on Grove End Road for three blocks. Abbey Road will be on your right. There are a number of walking tour companies in London, and some offer a Beatles tour that will take you to Abbey Road. Among them are London Walks (walks.com) and the Celebrity Planet (thecelebrityplanet.com).

11 Abbey Roads can confuse Beatles fans searching for history 11/24/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 5:34pm]

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