Fab Four’s Weston trip revealed

PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 November 2010 | UPDATED: 10:32 15 November 2010

Beatles on Birnbeck footpath: one of Sandra Blaken's never-seen-before shots

Beatles on Birnbeck footpath: one of Sandra Blaken's never-seen-before shots


A FASCINATING new film broadcast last night shed some light on The Beatles’ famous visit to Weston, just before Beatlemania broke worldwide.

John Lennon outside Royal Pier Hotel

The eight-minute-long film was shown on the BBC’s Inside Out West programme last night (Mon), and was presented by lifelong Beatles fan and Banwell resident John Hutson.

The film includes never-before-seen photos and footage of the Fab Four, and shares the stories of those Westonians who met them during their week-long stay in 1963.

Mr Hutson says of the film: “When The Beatles visited Weston they were big enough to have girls screaming, 
but small enough still to walk around without being bothered.

“Within six weeks of their visit, they became the biggest band in Britain and by the beginning of the following year they got their first number one record in America.”

The band’s stay in July of that year saw them play a staggering 12 gigs in six days, playing 6.30pm and 8.30pm shows each day at the old 1,800-seater Odeon theatre.

One Westonian who got to know the band in that week is Des Henly, later singer in rock band Fumble, who met them as they were trying to find their way back to the Royal Pier Hotel after a show at the Odeon, which has since been converted to a multi-screen cinema.

The band - Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - were lost, and asked Des, who is still a guitar tutor in Weston, to show them the way, and then become their motorbike outrider for the week, guiding them around the town.

Another person with unique memories of meeting the band is Sandra Blaken, then a 16-year-old schoolgirl, who snuck into the Beatles’ room in the hotel after they had left and took a piece of card for them to sign.

When she met them later and asked them to autograph the card, she says Paul McCartney remarked: “Ah, so you’re the one who’s been in our bedroom.”

Her first-hand photos of the band in Weston, some of which are shown on this page, also showed the band as they had never been seen before.

Some of the most iconic shots of the band in their early days were taken on the beach at Brean during that week. The shots, which saw the band fooling around in colourful Victorian-era bathing suits, would soon be seen in newspapers and magazines across the UK and the USA.

Another incident which occurred during the Beatles’ stay was the murder of 16-year-old Liverpudlian Barbara Herron at Wolvershill near Banwell. Ian McEachran, then a youngster, saw the band visiting the murdered girl’s friend Joan McNulty in hospital.

Mr Hutson says of the programme: “We could have made a 30-minute film with all the fascinating material we found, but in the end had to leave a lot out and concentrate on those who met or saw the Beatles at The Odeon or at the Royal Pier Hotel where they stayed.”

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