The Royal opening of Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA)

Friday, June 7, 1996
Timeline More from year 1996
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Liverpool, UK

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On this day, Queen Elizabeth II visited Liverpool, to perform the official opening of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, the performing arts school founded by Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty.

Paul McCartney had known since 1985 that the building which had housed his old school, the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, was becoming increasingly derelict after the school’s closure and wished to find a productive use for it; Mark Featherstone-Witty had set up the Brit School in London and was looking for an opportunity to open another school. McCartney and Featherstone-Witty were introduced to each other by record producer George Martin. The process of setting up the facility and the school took seven years and cost £20m.

Her Majesty performed the official opening of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts during a special visit to the city on Friday 7 June 1996. Paul – LIPA’s lead patron – was on hand to escort the Queen around the building and introduce her to some of its supporters and students

From Club Sandwich N°78, Summer 1996

In June 1996 The Queen graciously agreed to open the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts on the site of my old school that George Harrison and myself attended. She also had previously given a donation which the school was very honoured to receive.

Paul McCartney – From, September 8, 2022

My daughter Stella accompanied me to Liverpool on the day of the Queen’s visit to LIPA, and when we were on our way up there I said to her, ‘You work in fashion, what colour do you think the Queen is going to be wearing? It’s summer, so what will it be – pink or yellow?’ And she said, ‘No, light blue. Quite definitely light blue.’

So when the Queen did arrive, and stepped out of her car, instead of me thinking of the proper royal greeting, the only thing that came into my head, which I said to her, was, ‘Welcome to LIPA. My daughter and I were wondering what colour dress you’d be wearing. She said it would be light blue and she was right.’ To which the Queen said, ‘Oh!’, smiled and walked on.

Paul McCartney, from Club Sandwich N°79, Autumn 1996

This is a very proud day for me. It’s exciting that we have saved this fine old building of my school, and that Her Majesty has taken such an interest in our new school. l’m also proud that so many people have helped in so many ways to make this dream come true, and I’m sure that the students will one day make us proud by the eventual success that I hope many of them will find. LIPA has been built to help those with talent realise their dreams. I hope that LIPA will become the finest school of its type in the world and, if it does, it’ll be with thanks to all the many people – especially the people of Liverpool – who have helped us work this

Paul McCartney, quoted in The Beatles Monthly N°243, July 1996

Sir Paul McCartney Queen LIPA
From – Paul McCartney gives a thumbs up to music students after they played for The Queen during her tour of The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts on 7 June 1996. The Institute is the brain-child of the former Beatle who showed the Queen around the centre before she officially opened it. Photo: PA
From Paul McCartney on Facebook, June 2, 2022 – 70 beautiful years of Queen Elizabeth the second. Congrats ma’ am! And thanks – Paul ; Paul and The Queen at the opening of The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, 1996.

Royal curtain raiser at McCartney school

THE Queen and Paul McCartney sampled the latest sounds of the Mersey beat yesterday as she formally opened a school for the performing arts in Liverpool.

The former Beatle took the Queen, one of 2.000 supporters of the £15 million project, on a tour of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, built on the site of the grammar school where McCartney and George Harrison were pupils.

McCartney, for whom creating the college has been a long-held ambition, and the Queen watched performances by teenage members of the 190-pupil school’s contemporary dance studio and by one of its resident rock bands, The Salvation.

Beth Olson, a 20-year-old dance student, said they had been nervous before the performance but seeing the Queen “really got the adrenalin going”.

The Queen also visited the main Paul McCartney Auditorium where a choir sang a medley of songs which included two Stephen Sondheim show tunes, the Beatles song “Blackbird” and “I Feel The Body Electric”, from the film Fame.

McCartney, who last met the Queen at a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performance of Beatles music 14 years ago, showed her the school’s recording studio. It was, he told her, a far cry from the four-track recorder he used in his early days in the band.

She also heard Julie Thompson, a 22-year-old singer, sing the vocal track for a new song from a neighbouring recording booth. Mark Featherstone-Witty, chief executive of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, told the Queen: “We wrote to you in 1991 when this room and this building were derelict. We asked for your support and you gave it to us. Our council, staff and students and all of us who live in Liverpool give you our thanks for your faith in our dream.”

McCartney, who wore a grey suit, tie and had a new short haircut for the royal visit, said: “The Queen was very impressed — she was very entertained by all of it.”

He added: “I am very proud of our students. I think they gave a fantastic performance. What amazed me was the talent of the kids. If this is the start, they aren’t going to need much training — any of them could be in a London show now.”

He shrugged off reports that he is soon to be offered a knighthood. “It’s too embarrassing to think about, isn’t it? I don’t know anything about it.”

From The Daily Telegraph – June 8, 1996
From The Daily Telegraph – June 8, 1996


PAUL McCARTNEY saw a dream come true today as he welcomed the Queen to Liverpool and the Fame School he brought to reality.

The proud ex-Beatle shook hands with the Queen at the entrance to his old school – now an academy to help talented youngsters find stardom.

Paul, sporting a short new hair cut, took her on a tour of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, where she saw several performances by students from across the world and performed the official opening ceremony.

A smiling Paul emerged to say: “She loved it.”

More than 100 cheering fans were at the Mount Street complex to see the Queen arrive at foam. It was her first sight on a visit to several spots on Merseyside also involving the Duke of Edinburgh.

Hundreds of flag-waving Merseysiders were out in Wirral where the royal couple were visiting the Europa square in Birkenhead.

THE Queen was said to have been hugely impressed with the talent on show during her trip around the Fame School adding that she loved the place.

Paul McCartney gave the royal visitor a tour of LIPA and was delighted with her response.

He said: “She was very entertained with it and thought it was of high quality. She loved the lace.”

But he played down rumours he is about to get a knighthood in the Birthday Honours list saying: “It is too embarrassing to think about.” Pressed further, he quipped: “I know nothing about it.”

Asked where his wife Linda was, he said: “She’s at home. It’s all a bit hectic for her.” Linda has recently been fighting breast cancer. But Paul added: “She is well.”

After the Queen departed, he waved to the screaming crowds who were calling out: “Sir Paul.”

On his arrival today, Paul thrilled two of his youngest fans, Laura Harris, 14, from Litherland and Kirstie Goscombe, 15, from Bootle. The girls had been waiting behind a barner outside LIPA for two hours, and when Paul spotted the crowd he went over to speak to them.

Laura said: “Paul was great. He came over and shook our hands and said hello. I won’t wash my hands for a week.”

Kirstie said: “Paul was lovely and very friendly. I’m a big fan of the Beatles, and Ringo is my favourite.”

Emma-Jane Stevens, 17, travelled from Halifax to get a glimpse of Paul. She said: “I love the Beatles’ music and that’s why I came specially to Liverpool to see Paul. He looked just great.”

Inside the historic building the Queen first visited a performance of contempory dance. One of the performers, Beth Olsen, 20, from Birmingham, said: “We have been working for this day for a while. I was nervous, but excited.”

In a trip to the recording studio, McCartney swopped singer Julie Thompson, 27, performed “Perfect World”, composed specially for the day.

She said “I was very nervous – imagine the Queen and Paul McCartney in one room.”

After the Oueen unveiled the plaque, LIPA chief Mark Weatherstone-Witty told her: “We first wrote to you in 1991 when this room and building were completely derelict. We asked for your support and you gave it to us. We thank you for your faith in our dream.”

Pensioner Sheila Jones, 67, who has recently sold Paul McCartney’s old house in Forthlin Road, Allerton, was among the crowd. Mrs Jones, who has now moved to live with her family in Heswall, said: “The Queen and Paul both look absolutely fabulous. It was well worth coming to see them.”

Workers at Champion Spark Plugs Factory in Upton had greeted the Duke, who was also opening the reborn Delco factory in Kirkby this afternoon while the Queen toured the renovated Philharmonic Hall.

McCartney described the moment of the Queen’s arrival: “This is my dream come true – a very proud day for me.”

The Queen wore a powder blue coat, matching hat and blue and white dress and white accessories.

At the Fame School McCartney shook her hand as he told her: “It’s lovely to see you.”

The Duke was due to take the driving seat of one of the world’s most advanced cars on his visit to Delco in Kirkby today.

A concept car fitted with some of the latest electronic components has been shipped from America to mark the Duke’s official opening of Delco Electronics new £5m car parts factory.

From Liverpool Echo – June 7, 1996
From Liverpool Echo – June 7, 1996
From Liverpool Echo – June 7, 1996
From Liverpool Echo – June 28, 1996

Last updated on August 1, 2023

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