The Beatles in Lancashire: the history of the band performing in the county

The Beatles (John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison). credit: Wikimedia Commons.

From the quartet being lowered from the roof to avoid fans; to audience members dangling from balconies, The Beatles had many memorable moments touring the North West county.

You wouldn’t have to be the most ardent of music fans to notice last week’s return (of sorts) by British rock juggernauts The Beatles.

‘Now and Then’ – billed to be the last song ever released in their name – reached number one in the UK singles chart with a seasonal bonfire night bang on 5 November, after being released three days prior thanks to artificial intelligence isolating John Lennon’s vocals from a 1977 piano demo recording.

With the Merseyside Fab Four’s roots coming from just over the border the band have plenty of history in Lancashire, entertaining audiences in areas that are now the Red Rose County 40 times in 1963 alone.

One of their first Lancastrian performances came on 26 October at the Public Hall in Preston (now the 1842 bar & restaurant). David Hindle of the Preston Historical Society said: “An obscure pop group from Liverpool were paid £18 to support Mike Berry and the Outlaws appear at the Public Hall, on the occasion of the annual Grasshopper Rugby Club dance.

The facade of the Public Hall in 2023. Credit: Adam Lawlor

“Their first single ‘From Me To You’ had just been released and tickets cost just six shillings, or 30p as we’d know it, they even returned the following year on September 13 for another gig but this time to wide acclaim.”

Up until 1964, the Beatles travelled Lancashire extensively, with perhaps their most memorable performance being at the Queens Variety Theatre in 1963 in Blackpool, where they had to be lowered from the roof to avoid the Beatlemania crazed fans.

One of these fans was 73–year-old Marianne O’Brien. Reminiscing she said: “Everyone loved the Beatles worldwide, we waited outside the theatre afterwards to hopefully see the Beatles leave to no avail.

“Always a sell out when they played, I went with my friend who was on holiday in Blackpool with her family, my dad managed to get two tickets for us, the Beatles must have escaped at the exit.”

Just up the Fylde coast Fleetwood’s Marine Hall Ballroom was also a venue frequented by the quartet.

Lennon had a cousin in the seaside resort when growing up resulting in it being a holiday favourite for the young musician.

Morecambe also played host to them back in 1962, with a second and final concert there the year after.

The East Lancashire town of Nelson hosted 2,000 frantic fans twice in 1963 at the Imperial Ballroom (known colloquially as The Imp), the venue no longer stands after being burnt down in 1976.

Blackburn is a town that has a certain amount of cult fame amongst Beatles fans, with the lyric ‘4000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire’ featuring in the their single A Day In The Life.

Their only ever appearance in the town came at King George’s Hall in 1963 on June 9, Lennon remarked afterwards that the audience was one of ‘the best crowds we have had’ and that he ‘could have played for another hour’.

The occasion was no doubt a memorable one with reports of spectators dangling from balconies and groups of girls rushing the stage and being carried off by security.

The Beatles went on to secure their status as one of the UK’s most popular musical exports by touring the world with their ever-growing fame, but the legacy they left in Lancashire certainly still holds up today.