The Beatles at Trentham in 1963 caused ‘teenage hysteria’


It is difficult to comprehend it is now more than 50 years since The Beatles split up – yet interest in the Fab Four remains high.

The last time they performed live was January 30, 1969, in a lunchtime gig with Billy Preston on the roof of the Apple Records building in London.

Traffic was brought to a standstill and crowds gathered below, while others watched from the windows of nearby buildings.

John Lennon ended the performance by saying: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope that we passed the audition.”

North Staffordshire fared well in terms of Beatles performances – especially in 1963.

The band’s debut single Love Me Do had been released in the previous October.

This entered the top 50 within two days of issue, and the group played at the King’s Hall, Stoke, on January 26.

Their second single, Please, Please, Me, hit number one in the NME chart in February and the group were on stage at Hanley’s Gaumont Cinema on March 3.

The group subsequently made return visits to the King’s Hall and Gaumont on April 19 and May 19 respectively.

By this time they were fast gaining in popularity with clamorous scenes at their engagements.

Sales of Beatles-inspired merchandise were also gathering momentum, with local outfitters Haydens advertising Lybro jeans in the Evening Sentinel from 24/6d – as worn by the Beatles.

In the meantime, the group’s next singles, From Me To You and She Loves You enjoyed equal success, and following a busy schedule of summer shows and recording sessions, they performed at Trentham Gardens on October 11.

The following day, the Evening Sentinel reported on the ‘teenage hysteria’ which had hit Trentham. According to the report: “Three teenage girls had to be taken to hospital and dozens of others given first aid by Red Cross attendants after some of the 3,000 crowd attempted to storm the stage.”



Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel, dated Friday October 18th, showing the Beatles at Trentham Gardens.

The venue’s entertainments manager, the late Les Johnson, is reported as commenting: “I’ve seen nothing like it – if I’d had enough tickets I could have filled Stoke City’s football ground!”

Prior to the concert, two members of Trentham’s staff had been engaged full time for two weeks, returning money to unsuccessful ticket applicants.

The police described the event as ‘phenomenal’ after attempting to cope with ‘the largest, rowdiest crowd ever seen in the ballroom’.

Some fans had travelled from as far away as Devon for the event and coachloads arrived from Liverpool and Birmingham. In the meantime, touts outside the main entrance were attempting to sell 7/6d tickets for £5.

On arrival at Trentham, the Beatles were ushered into the building by the police through a special entrance a few minutes before appearing on stage.

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Security was also tight outside the group’s dressing room with police dogs and handlers in attendance.

After their gig, reported by the Evening Sentinel as lasting 30 minutes, the group – dressed in their grey-brown collarless suits – told the reporter that the crowd had given them ‘the most enthusiastic welcome they had ever received!’.

However, a number of fans must have been disappointed as a 2ft high pile of autograph books were left unsigned outside the dressing room.

One of Trentham’s popular bands, the Ken Jones Orchestra, supported the Beatles.

When interviewed in 2003, the veteran bandleader recalled that he would never forget the noise that went up on the group being introduced. “They nearly lifted the roof off,” he said.

Although Ken contended that one couldn’t compare his trained musicians to the Beatles, he nevertheless thought that John and Paul ‘had a raw talent for writing that type of material that hit the pulse of the public at that time.’

Ken also maintained that the group played only for 20 minutes.

So to continue the dance programme which was scheduled to conclude at 1pm, his orchestra played mostly party and barn dance type music and the crowd entered into the atmosphere and appeared to enjoy the occasion.

Ken’s saxophonist Percy Le Roland was also on stage with the orchestra that evening. He and his colleagues should have initially played until 9pm when the Beatles were due to perform.

However, the group arrived late, so the orchestra had to carry on playing until they actually appeared at 9.20pm.

According to Percy: “This was not popular with fellow band members as valuable drinking time was lost at the nearby Bulls Head.”

Having only played for 20 minutes, Percy thought that some of the fans would be disappointed, leaving Ken Jones somewhat perplexed.

But they attempted to carry on as normal, with the youngsters ‘experimenting’ with the various dances.

Also in attendance was our late friend Graham Plimbley with the North Staffordshire Hosptial Broadcasting Unit.

He recalled: “It was total chaos that night – we ourselves had difficulty gaining access.”

It had been arranged earlier for the Beatles to be interviewed after their performance and they eventually arrived in a temporary studio, but immediately ‘commenced fooling around, passing the microphone to one another, giving the impression that they were not taking the interview seriously and they didn’t want to know’.

Graham believed that this was perhaps because the interview was being conducted by Hospital Broadcasts and not a major radio station.

On attempting to start the interview, John Lennon twice asked if they could use the ‘F word’.

At this, head of programmes David Greddington decided to stop the recording.

“It was a complete disaster,” added Graham. Of course, a unique opportunity to obtain a local recorded interview was lost.

It is also perhaps worth noting that Barney Bamford was also present with the Hospital Broadcasting Unit.

Then at the peak of his career, the Silverdale-born broadcaster was seen daily on BBC Midlands Today programmes.

According to local Beatles expert Garry Marsh, ‘the Beatles were on the crest of a wave at Trentham, and they remain one of the best examples of what is now the hottest topic in the music industry – heritage rock.”

Their image and music continues to illustrate not only the 1960s but also the latter half of the 20th century. They have also left us arguably the greatest legacy of popular music ever recorded.

Do you remember the Beatles gigs? Or did you see another band as they were starting out? Send your memories to waywewere@thesentinel.co.uk





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