Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club under threat as covid-19 lockdown bites

(Image credit: The Cavern Club)

The director of Liverpool's Cavern Club, Bill Heckle, has spoken about the threat facing the legendary venue's future, as the business makes a reported £30,000 loss each month.

Heckle said the club's savings have been halved in the five month's since the government banned mass gatherings in an effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic. The conditions under which the club can reopen would see the Cavern operate at a loss, and Heckle says government help is needed to keep the doors open.

Speaking to Sky News, Heckle said that the Cavern would apply to the government's Culture Recovery fund, but that would not necessarily offer long-term viability to the venue's operation when attendances would be capped at 30 per cent of capacity.

“I don't want them (the government) to pay our profits, I wouldn't expect them to pay our profits, but at least make sure we don't lose money," he said.

“We know we're not going to make money – it's about really reminding people we're here and the sole aim is to get out the other side. I'm sure we will. But it is about survival."

Since lockdown, the Cavern Club has made 20 members of staff redundant, with a further 20 jobs under threat. 

The sole aim is to get out the other side. I'm sure we will. But it is about survival."

Bill Heckle, director of The Cavern Club

The Cavern Club first opened its doors in January 1957, and is most famous for helping to launch the Beatles' career, the Fab Four playing their first gig there in 1961. The Mathew Street cellar venue remains a regular pilgrimage for Beatlemaniacs.

On 27th August, the Cavern Club opens its doors again for International Beatleweek, with an alternative programme of pre-recorded sets from Beatles tribute acts from around the world, with the Cavern's resident musicians closing the day with a live set.

The performances will also be screened online, with bands from over different 20 countries taking part in the festivities.

“International Beatleweek is the highlight of the year for many of our loyal customers from around the world," said Heckle in a statement. "For that reason, we couldn’t let a year go by without doing something to mark the occasion.

“It is obviously going to be very different with social distancing and covid safety measures in place, but we’re sure the Cavern’s evocative spirit will remain as we bring fans together to celebrate the music of the Fab Four, safely and at a distance.”

Since lockdown, the Cavern has renovated its air-conditioning system to improve ventilation. The system exchanges air from within the club with fresh air from outside.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.