A suburban basement where The Beatles played some of their earliest gigs was given protected heritage status by the British government Friday.

The Casbah Coffee Club, created in the home of original Beatles drummer Pete Best, was given Grade II Listed status on the recommendation of conservation body English Heritage. The designation means the venue, which still contains original artwork and musical equipment, is of "special architectural or historic interest" and cannot be demolished.

Best's mother, Mona, created the club in the basement and coal cellar of her Victorian house on the edge of Liverpool after reading about the "beat" clubs popular with teenagers in London.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison — then billed as The Quarrymen — played at the club's opening in April 1959 as a last-minute replacement for scheduled headliners, the Les Stewart Quartet.

Best later joined the band, renamed The Silver Beatles and then The Beatles. The band played the Casbah many times until the club closed in 1962. The same year, Best was replaced as drummer by Ringo Starr and The Beatles released their first single, "Love Me Do."

The building, still owned by the Best family, features murals and paintings by members of the band and by Lennon's first wife, Cynthia.

Bob Hawkins of English Heritage said the club was "in a remarkably well-preserved condition ... with wall and ceiling paintings of spiders, dragons, rainbows and stars by original band members along with 1960s musical equipment, amplifiers and original chairs."

"We know of no other survival like it in Liverpool or indeed anywhere else," he said.