The Beatles’ tour with Helen Shapiro had begun on 2 February 1963, but the group gave two standalone performances at the Cavern Club between that date and 5 February, when the tour resumed at Doncaster’s Gaumont Cinema.
The Beatles stayed at the Regent Hotel, close to the venue. The owner’s 15-year-old son was excited to learn that the group were there.
I already had tickets for the show but when mum said The Beatles were staying here I was very excited about it. After a few minutes I went upstairs. The TV lounge was up there and The Beatles were inside strumming their guitars. I didn’t go in – that was not done, you didn’t disturb guests. But I went near the glass doors and heard them. I’ve often wondered if they were working on one of their early hits that day.
I immediately called in to cancel my paper round the next morning so I could join my brother Dave in taking their tea up to their two twin rooms in the morning. Unfortunately, when we took the tea up they were all asleep. We went off to school, which was also very close by, but we both returned home fairly soon after, feeling unwell. It was probably the excitement and knowing The Beatles were probably still in the hotel. Anyway, when we got back there were The Beatles – all four of them in the restaurant finishing off their breakfast. They signed Parlophone promotion cards for us – and for some of the waitresses and kitchen staff.
They had all signed the hotel register. There was space for a name, date and nationality. George wrote George Harrison, British, February 5, 1963. But Ringo got the year wrong. He put Ringo Starr, British, February 5 1962. The others also put the wrong year. John Lennon signed his name but under nationality wrote ‘white man’ and Paul put ‘green man’. Both followed Ringo in putting 1962. The funny thing was the next six people also put 1962 until one of them realised it was wrong and corrected it to 1963.
I remember later saying to my dad and mum, who jointly owned the hotel, that we needed to put the beds up for sale. Everything to do with The Beatles was wanted – sheets they’d slept in, etc. ‘Don’t be so bloody stupid,’ my dad said. The register they signed is in a bank vault now, but we have copies displayed.
Beatlemania!, Martin Creasy
Taking photographs at the concerts was Charlie Worsdale, working for the Foto News agency. He was accompanied by Carol Roope, who was interviewing the performers for the agency.
[In the dressing room] they were playing Ray Charles records on a portable player, and tracks by people like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. I was particularly chuffed they were listening to Ray Charles because I was quite a fan. I remember them joking among themselves about how audiences were reacting to them. They were poking fun at an audience which was now largely screaming girls who practically drowned out their music.
I took my pictures from the wings while they were playing, but you couldn’t hear much. What was obvious was the excitement they were creating in the audience – it was obvious that they were going to be big. The much was largely drowned out, though.
Beatlemania!, Martin Creasy
The Art Deco venue opened in September 1934, with 2,020 seats and a stage 67 feet wide. A number of other musical acts performed at the cinema, including Buddy Holly and The Rolling Stones. The Beatles performed at the Gaumont on two other occasions, 22 March and 10 December 1963.
The building was modernised in 1964, and in 1987 became the Odeon, but was demolished in November 2009.