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The Beatles connections reached all the way across the county including Margate's Winter Gardens and Rochester Cathedral

Writer Richard Curtis' latest movie, Yesterday, is currently proving a box office smash as it imagines a world where the Beatles never existed.

But while life without the Fab Four is a strange place to contemplate, such was their cultural impact globally, it would also mean Kent was denied a host of memorable experiences.

In a special feature, we take a look at how the tentacles of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr reached all the way across the county and continues to influence so many today.

Himesh Patel and Ed Sheeran star in the Richard Curtis movie Yesterday - a film which imagines a world without the Beatles
Himesh Patel and Ed Sheeran star in the Richard Curtis movie Yesterday - a film which imagines a world without the Beatles

Beatles in the Ballroom

In January 1963, the band had experienced their first ever hit single when debut Love Me Do reached number 17 in the charts but were craving more.

Having concluded the last of their legendary Hamburg residencies the month before, the group started gigging across the UK as and where they could.

On January 12, the day after the release of their second single Please Please Me, they arrived at Chatham's Invicta Ballroom, fresh from shows at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and Staffordshire the day before.

It was, at the time, their most southerly show, having previously played in the north of the country.

The Beatles performed a string of shows in Margate as well as an early outing in Chatham
The Beatles performed a string of shows in Margate as well as an early outing in Chatham

Beatles in Birchington

As 1963 progressed, Beatlemania, in the UK at least, had got under way.

On the back of their debut number one album and a string of chart-topping singles, the band, still in their relative infancy, found themselves mobbed everywhere they went.

In the July of that year, the group booked a six-night stint at Margate's Winter Gardens - maximising their popularity by staging two shows a day.

The only problem was the band's fanatical fans tended to drown out the singing with their screams.

The nine-song set featured the likes of From Me To You, Twist and Shout and I Saw Her Standing There.

During their stint there they stayed at the cliff-top Beresford Hotel in nearby Birchington where fans gathered and the band would greet them from the windows.

The group are also known to have frequented the New Inn pub on The Square - now known, perhaps a little predictably, as the Strawberry Fields tearooms.

A signed programme of the Fab Four's shows in Margate
A signed programme of the Fab Four's shows in Margate

Fun in the park

By the January of 1967 the Beatles had called time on touring and, musically, were hitting the peak of their powers.

The previous year's Revolver had been critically acclaimed - and is still considered by many their best album - and Sgt Pepper was to hit the shelves in April.

But with pressure to deliver another hit single, it was recommended they release a double A-side of Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane.

With a global audience, the band had started a policy of shooting 'promotional films' (as they were called back then) to save them the arduous task, particularly in the US, of having to appear in person to promote their latest releases.

The result was two days of filming at Sevenoaks' Knole Park for Strawberry Fields and a return the following week for shots to accompany the Penny Lane film.

The results, shot in colour, were pioneering in their artistic approach and caught a sense of the psychedelic era.

Unsurprisingly, the shoot generated plenty of interest - especially from children at a nearby school backing onto the park who were able to watch their heroes perform for the cameras.

Remarkably, the record only made number two in the chart - kept off the top by Engelbert Humperdinck's Release Me.

The Beatles when they visited Knole Park, Sevenoaks to shoot promotional films for Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever in January 1967. Picture: Tracks
The Beatles when they visited Knole Park, Sevenoaks to shoot promotional films for Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever in January 1967. Picture: Tracks

Airfield antics

For an alien watching the 55-minute long Magical Mystery Tour film, it may be hard for them to grasp that it was the brain child of some of the most culturally relevant artists of all time.

Critically panned when first broadcast by the BBC on Boxing Day 1967, and still an awkward watch, it remains a bizarre chapter in the Fab Four's career.

The double EP on which the music for the film was originally included featured the likes of I Am The Walrus and The Fool on the Hill and, of course the title track.

So where better to film a psychedelic homage to mystery tours of years gone by than an airfield in Kent?

The front page of the Kent Messenger reports on the Beatles' arrival in West Malling in 1967
The front page of the Kent Messenger reports on the Beatles' arrival in West Malling in 1967

Thus it was in September 1967 the band and entourage spent nearly a week at West Malling's former RAF site after being unable to hire any London film studio at short notice.

The movie, which was largely unscripted, used aircraft hangars for many of the scenes, including the ballroom sequence for Your Mother Should Know, while the video for I Am The Walrus was shot at two locations on the airfield, including atop its distinctive anti-blast concrete walls.

The race scene took place on the main runway and perimeter road.

Filming also took place in West Malling town centre, including the newsagents in the high street where Ringo can be seen buying tickets from John.

The airfield is now Kings Hill.

Magical Mystery Tour was filmed in and around West Malling
Magical Mystery Tour was filmed in and around West Malling

John and Yoko visit

On Christmas Eve 1969, three months after privately telling his band mates he was going to leave the group, he and his new wife, Yoko Ono, flew back into England from Canada heading to Rochester Cathedral.

To be staged as part of their global peace campaign, the plan was for them to join a fast and sit-in. It didn't quite go to plan.

Arriving in a white Rolls-Royce, alongside American comedian and black activist Dick Gregory, miserable weather and a growing crowd tipped off to their arrival, the 24-hour sleepover plans were swiftly scrapped amid fears of pandemonium.

The trio posed for photographs and briefly entered the cathedral before being swiftly whisked away, although returned for midnight mass, before heading to their home in Berkshire.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at midnight mass in Rochester Cathedral in 1969. With them is the American comedian Dick Gregory
John Lennon and Yoko Ono at midnight mass in Rochester Cathedral in 1969. With them is the American comedian Dick Gregory

Paul's pad

Sir Paul is so close to being a Kent resident we could - and perhaps should - claim him as our own.

For decades he has lived in a secluded farmhouse in Peasmarsh in East Sussex - taking about as long as it takes to sing Let It Be to drive from there to our good county.

He's often been spotted around and about too.

He's made numerous trips to the multiplex cinema in Ashford where fans, I kid you not, have spotted him queuing up for popcorn.

You'd think there would be a special queue for members of the Beatles wouldn't you?

The Beatles film Magic Mystery Tour in West Malling
The Beatles film Magic Mystery Tour in West Malling

A design for life

The man behind the iconic, and much copied, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, Sir Peter Blake - now 87 - was born in Dartford and attended Dartford West school before enrolling at Gravesend Technical College and then the Royal College of Art.

He designed the album cover with his then wife Jann Haworth and received a one-off flat fee of £200 for it.

He has become one of the most famed pop artists of his generation with other well known works including the cover of the original Band Aid single, Do They Know It's Christmas.

Born in Dartford, artist Peter Blake designed the Sgt Pepper album cover
Born in Dartford, artist Peter Blake designed the Sgt Pepper album cover

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