When the Beatles came to York

On this page I intend to show and talk about any information on the Beatles visits to York. They came 4 times to perform, Feb 27 1963, March 13th 1963, May 29th 1963, and finally 27 Nov 1963 (see:  www.historyofyork.org.uk/themes/post-war-york/sixties-york).

On all 4 occassions they played the Rialto Theatre on Fishergate, now long gone and replaced by a new bingo hall. I still need to research if they stayed in a hotel or if they made any public appearances during these visits. Stay tuned.....Below is a collection of images after trawling the internet for a week. Saddest are the pictures of the Rialto before it was demolished in 2003, (for more images copy and paste this link : http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/theatres-cinemas/25113-former-rialto-cinema-york-pics-april-2003-a.html )


Autograpghed signatures of George and Ringo obtained on March 13, 1963, at the Rialto Theatre, York, and are accompanied by a letter of provenance stating “The autographs were obtained when the Beatles gave a performance at The Rialto York In 1963. But who was the original owner??
A full set of Beatle autographs. According to the vendor, these signatures were obtained at the Rialto Cinema, Fishergate, York on 27th February, 1963. Again, who actually managed to get these signatures??

Here is an interesting link to a web article about the Beatles playing the Globe theatre in Stockton-on-Tees, on 22nd Nov 1963.


It's interesting because it actually has some pictures of the audience whilst the band were playing AND even a rare photo of the lads themselves on stage during the performance. I would imagine the scenes at York's Rialto theatre would be almost the same...have a look!

OK as promised here is some stories from some of the people who have seen and remember the Beatles coming to York, these have been re-posted from articles sent by Steve at the Evening Press and from some information supplied from the YorkMix website.

'' As the entertainment correspondent for the Evening Press and local DJ, Stacey Brewer was in the thick of the swinging Sixties. When The Beatles first played the Rialto, on March 13, 1963, they were just on the cusp of super-stardom. Back then, they were bottom of the bill, supporting two American singers, Chris Montez, who had a hit with Let's Dance, and Tommy Roe. But the four Liverpudlians were already fab. Teenagers who had paid between 4s 6d and 8s 6d to attend one of the two evening shows certainly got their money's worth. Mop-tops bouncing in the spotlight, The Beatles treated the audience to songs that would become pop classics - Love Me Do and Please, Please Me. "I liked the music - we all did," said Stacey. "And they were great personalities. Paul McCartney was the heartthrob of the group." By the time they returned to York, John, Paul, George and Ringo were huge household names. But they couldn't escape the contract that brought them back to the city - this time at the top of the bill.

The Beatles were the biggest stars in a whole constellation that passed through York. Other members of the Mersey Sound, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J Kramer, appeared. Stacey remembers bumping into a young Cilla Black, who was part of the entourage of one of these groups. From the States came Roy Orbison, the Big O. It wasn't only the Rialto that hosted big names. At the New Earswick Folk Hall you could catch Procul Harem and Pink Floyd. And DJs Jimmy Savile and John Peel would host sessions at the York Railway Institute gymnasium, at which Status Quo and The Move performed. Popular venues for youngsters included a host of venues where youngsters could be themselves without too much supervision by adults. Popular venues included the Kavern Club in Micklegate, Jimmy the Deacon's (St James's church hall in Dringhouses), the Mandrake (later the Zarf) in Stonegate and Neil Guppy's Enterprise Club in Walmgate. Neil also organised live music at the King's Manor cellars. So many groups were having hits that it inspired local youngsters to pick up a guitar and have a go. At one time it seemed that every garage and church hall in York was resonating to the sounds of what the participants hoped would be the new Beatles.
It wasn't only pop pickers who had a good time in York in the Sixties. The big bands led by Count Basey and Buddy Rich came to the Rialto. And on the variety bill were such acts as Morecambe & Wise, Matt Munro, Des O'Connor and Shirley Bassey. Revellers could go on to The Society Club in Bootham and the 55 Club in Micklegate which boasted casinos. ''
Van Wilson
'' After the March 13th appearance at the Rialto, George Harrison told Stacey Brewer of the Yorkshire Evening Press, that the Beatles’ next single, From Me To You, had been written by them in the coach as they travelled from York to Shrewsbury following the February concert. On May 29 they came back again with Roy Orbison topping the bill and tickets were sold out two weeks before the concert. This time the Beatles were headline news. In only two months they had shot to fame and From Me To You, their first number one hit, remained in the charts for 21 weeks.
By their fourth and final appearance in York, on November 27, they were topping the bill. Arriving early in York in their Austin Princess limousine, they dropped in at the York Motel on Tadcaster Road for a meal. I lived in that area and remember a friend of my brother’s dashing round to our house to tell my elder brother Mike that he’d heard the Beatles were at the motel. They ran down to the main road to try to catch a glimpse. I wanted to go too but was not allowed! Half an hour later he came back gloating because they had seen a car go by the Knavesmire with the Beatles inside. There was no one else around so they knew that when they waved madly, they got a personal wave in return, which was more than the crowd at the Rialto got, as the Beatles were rush in through the front door to avoid all the fans at the back door.
Before the concert the police had to work out a special “Beatle plan” and arrange traffic diversions. As well as 100 policemen, another 40 special constables were drafted in on “Beatle duty” for the occasion. Some young people had started queuing at lunchtime in the hopes of seeing their heroes. The Rialto management had been sent hundreds of requests for autographs, and even a dress which the owner wanted the Beatles to sign so that she could raffle it for charity. There were 1,800 fans inside the auditorium and another 400 outside jammed behind crush barriers chanting, “We want Paul, George, John, Ringo” throughout the concert. In fact they stood for five hours in the cold. Stacey Brewer’s review in the Yorkshire Evening Press said that “their final, frenzied frantic version of Twist And Shout threatened to lift the roof off the Mecca Casino. ''
Colin Carr was the drummer in the York group The Clubmen.
'' I was fortunate enough to see the Beatles. Anton’s boss, Malcolm, wasn’t short of a bob or two. He booked a block of eight seats, and he took the Clubmen, and his wife and two children, and they were really good seats. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. They were so famous then, they took the world by storm, and you just couldn’t believe you were so near to them, when they came running on to the stage. The way they announced it, the curtains went back, there were just drums on a rostrum, all gleaming and shining, and three guitars, and the compere would be teasing you, waffling on. Then, ‘And here they are, the Beatles’, and they’d run on, and it was just deafening. The girls were absolutely out of their minds. And you were sat there, so involved in it, you’re struck dumb. It just got you. I’ve never felt like that since, so emotionally involved. ''
Professor Wilfrid Mellers came to York in 1963 to found the music department at the new university.
My daughters would play Beatle music all the time. I was interested in jazz, I was perfectly prepared to think it would be a good thing, and I thought the Beatles were very well worth writing a book about. Lennon and McCartney they were the really creative two. I did a course on Bob Dylan in the context of American country music and I taught the Beatles course. There were very long queues for that, stretching over campus. I wasn’t trying to be trendy. I taught the Beatles because I thought the music was good.
Ella Hirst, daughter of jazz pianist Bobby Hirst, said the Beatles “changed the world”.
'' You and your friends were into a new thing, and it was like a revolution because old people were absolutely horrified. I met The Beatles. John Pick [a freelance reporter] was doing a story on a girl who spent all her holidays in the Cavern in Liverpool. She knew about the Beatles before anybody. It was 1963. I was 16 and my dad found out that John was gonna do this story and take her into the Rialto. He got hold of my dad and he said, ‘I owe you a favour, I’ll take Ella as well’. So I took a day off tech college.
At the Rialto, all the girls were screaming and shouting outside but there was just me, this girl, John Pick and the Beatles. It was every girl’s dream. I was very slim and had red hair, and Paul McCartney said: ‘Doesn’t she remind you of Jane?’ ’cos he was going out with Jane Asher at the time. I had to sit on his knee for a picture, and he’s got his arm round me. I think it was on the front page of the Daily Expres. So I go back to college, and the headmaster said, ‘Why were you off school yesterday?’ ‘I had bronchitis’. ‘Mm, you weren’t poorly enough not to go to the Rialto with the Beatles on.’ I could have died. It never occurred to me it would be in the paper. ''
Rosemary Clegg sold programmes at the Rialto’s big shows in return for watching the show for free.
'' I saw so many groups at that time that I can’t remember them all. The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, the Bachelors, Joe Brown and The Bruvvers, the Small Faces and, of course, the Beatles. I felt so smug on the morning of a show, walking to work and passing queues of girls sitting on the pavement waiting for tickets, knowing I wouldn’t have to queue and I could go in for free. ''
These are extracts from Van Wilson’s 2002 book Something in the Air: An History of Popular Music in York.

Received this in my request for local memorabilia from John Norman of York.

'' Hi Chris.
My wife saw the Beatles (but did not hear them for the noise) on their last date in Nov 63 and the following day heard that they were to leave the Royal York hotel to travel onto the next show.
She hot footed it down there and found them in what is known as the tea square at the rear of the hotel and inside a Ford Zephyr six were the Beatles along with Maureen Cox and Cynthia Lennon. The girls with her from the old York Tech managed to get three autographs but my wife banged on the drivers door window and Paul McCartney wound down the window and signed for her, so she had all four.
We still have the Autographs on a piece of old ruled A4 note paper with the cars reg written down on it. (see image). You can make out the car reg was 2074 KD bottle green zephyr six.
Hope this is of interest.''
John Norman
Thanks John for this. It's a great piece of local information and nostalgia along with a real piece of Beatles memorabilia. More like this please!!!

APRIL 23rd 2013

Came across these NEW and UNSEEN pictures of the lads actually on one of their visits to the Rialto in 1963. The York Press ran a couple of articles on them after the 50th anniversary articles so I reproduce them here with thanks to the Press.

Fab memories of The Beatles concert at York’s Rialto

John Hattersley-Colson, far right, who was manager of The Rialto in York when The Beatles performed, with Paul McCartney standing next to him and Ringo Starr, seated. The other man in the picture is not known (Neil Aspinall?). Picture: Copyright John Hattersley-Colson.
THIS picture shows the moments before a legendary York performance by The Beatles. Taken shortly before their performance at York’s Rialto concert hall in February 1963, a fresh-faced Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are seen alongside co-manager of the Rialto John Hattersley-Colson in the never-before published photograph.

The Beatles were just beginning to create the buzz which would later turn into full-blown Beatlemania and took to the stage of the Rialto in Fishergate to a rapturous reception. Mr Hattersley-Colson, who turned 80 yesterday, was 29 at the time and remembers the band as being friendly and polite. He recalls they arrived by a big Austin Princess car, and stopped for a drink at the Edinburgh Arms.

He said: “They were nice young lads, there were no airs and graces with them. They were ordinary Lancashire lads like me. The show was fantastic, it went very well indeed. People who went never forgot it. When they became really famous I thought ‘I had a mug of tea with those lads and a laugh and a joke and a giggle with them’.”

The night saw fans disappointed when Helen Shapiro cancelled her performance due to flu. The Evening Press from February 28, however, told how the Fab Four went down a storm with the crowd.

Our reviewer at the time wrote: “Screams of delight greeted The Beatles – a Liverpool quartet who obliged with the songs they wrote themselves and which have taken them into the Hit Parade – Love Me Do and Please Please Me.”

The venue had previously been owned by Jack Prendergast, John Barry’s father, and was later sold to Mecca bingo.

Mr Hattersley-Colson was managing the Rialto alongside Derek Lacy, with whom he would like to get back in touch and who should phone 01904 567168.

Dealer tells of steady rise in value of Beatles memorabilia

A YOUTHFUL Paul McCartney gives a York fan his autograph. John Lennon stops for a chat with another fan. The Beatles together lean and wave out of an upstairs window at the Rialto Theatre. These previously unpublished images from one of the band’s visits to York in 1963 have been released to The Press by a leading dealer in Beatles and other rock’n’roll memorabilia, who has also revealed just how much such items can now be worth.

Jason Cornthwaite, of Tracks Ltd in Lancashire, contacted the newspaper after we reported the teenage reminiscences of Gill Thompson, who met the Fab Four and other stars when they stayed at her then home, the Edinburgh Arms, following concerts at the nearby Rialto. She had an autograph book full of the signatures of world-famous musicians from the 1960s. Mr Cornthwaite said he had bought the pictures seen here from a female York fan who had taken them during one of the 1963 visits.

He said all the bands and artists who visited the city left behind a plethora of superb mementos. Most of this material had risen steadily in value over the last 20 years, with a significant increase in the last five years – in particular with The Beatles.

He said: “Although the rise doesn’t apply to all types of Beatles items, there has been a substantial increase in the value of specific types of Fab Four ephemera, most notably signatures, concert posters, some novelty items and certain albums. Most of the items in these categories have doubled in value in the past five years. A Beatles concert poster from York in decent condition could now bring £4,000 to £5,000, compared with £2,000 five years ago.”

He says a a small ticket stub would be worth £50, and a larger, more elaborate one such as those issued in 1962 or early 1963 would bring about £150 – more than triple this if it were complete. Beatles programmes were worth between £25 and £35, with handbills realising between £300 and £500.

He invited members of the York public with Beatles and other memorabilia – such as concert posters, flyers, programs, tickets, signatures, magazines, personal possessions, negatives and lyrics – to contact Tracks for a free valuation.

Anyone wanting a valuation should call Jason Cornthwaite on 01257 269726, email jason@tracks.co.uk or write to Tracks Ltd, PO Box 117, Chorley, Lancashire PR6 OQR.

So it just show that there is still memorabilia to be found out there, I bet there are more to come out of the woodwork just like the above as word spreads and of course prices go up...

Above is a concert ticket from the 29 May 1963 show at the Rialto, Peter Walker contacted me and sent me the image. He sent me the following info about himself:
Peter Walker

"Chris I do not mind at all you putting the ticket and my name on the website. I was born in York but I left in 1969 to move to Canada. Here is an old picture of me if you want to use it. A modern picture of me nobody would know anyway. I would be very surprised if anyone recognized me.

I bought the ticket for ten and six [about 55p]. I was there! Best seats in the house. John Lennon swore .. saying f*** off over and over. I went to see Roy Orbison who sang his hits like 'Only The Lonely'.

I do like history and the more research and facts that become clearer is for the better. I was a member of the Royal Observer Corps and I don't think all the history has been printed yet about them."


  1. Thanks for all this. I was told that The Fab 4 stayed at the York Motel, but didn't know for sure.

    1. Hi Pedro, thanx for your comment. Yes i think they did stay there and also maybe at the Edinburgh Arms in Fishergate just opposite the Rialto. They certainly enjoyed a drink or two in the Edinburgh Arms before or after the later shows.

    2. Oh they certainly stayed there! Amazed you didn't know that. The (York) Press had some memories of them there and how unpleasant Lennon was while staying (look in the archive using obvious keywords). The Rolling Stones stayed there as well. They walked to the first gig from there.

      (Lennon did swear all the time all real life. Never cared much about in whose company it was. Could control it when he wanted to.)

      My father (who is in his 90's today) was a friend of Xavier "Jack" Prendergast (father of John Barry) who once owned The Rialto (thought he did at the time of the Beatles played, but could be wrong.) Massive guy and big character. Knew all the jazz greats and had a million stories to tell. Didn't think much of his son and made a fuss at his first wedding (on Bootham) when he found out he had changed his name by deed poll!

      Returning to the main subject.

      Beatles once played Harrogate, but never stayed the night. I put up old photos on my Tumblr account.Just yesterday actually! They have only recently come to light.

      All the best.


  2. Hi, Just came across your site. I can confirm the Beatles stayed at the Royal Station Hotel. I have a postcard of that hotel. My Aunt worked there ( as a Manageress I think) in the 1960's. She told me the Beatles stayed there and they were very nice. She was from Ireland. She had some Beatles memorabilia, some postcards with photos and signed by all four ( unfortunately only two signatures remain). There is slight spotting on this one. On the reverse it says "The Official Beatles Fan Club", with an address of Monmouth Square, London. A second postcard with photo of the lads with three guitars and a ref no on front SP584 signed on reverse by Paul and Ringo. A 3rd postcard with photo of the lads and the words "The Beatles " on front and also a ref no SP585 This one is signed on reverse by three of them Paul, Ringo and John Lennon. I know they signed these for my aunt on some visits to the Royal Station hotel. From what you say here it would seem this was in 1963. I now own these cards so may contact Jason whom you mentioned above. She also had an autograph book and it seems a lot of celebrities stayed at that hotel when in York. The Rolling Stones, Shirley Bassy(1959) , some famous jockeys - Scobie Breasley 1962, Lester Piggott , Tommy Steele, Swinging Blue Jeans, Cliff Richard, and some more Beatles ones. Delighted I came across your site.

    1. Hi Mary, great to hear from you about your memories and collection. Are you based in York? If so, it would be great if you could come to our next meeting in late March 2015. To bring some original stuff to see would be excellent for us all.
      Hope so - Chris

  3. Just received this email from an Angela Jones:

    Hi there
    Just seen the blog on the Beatles in York and saw the four Autographs, you wanted to know who got them it was me. I actually climbed up the drain pipe to the window they where looking out from to get them. I was 13 at the time, just thought I would let you know. Also one of the places groups stayed in York was Pete Madderns in Petergate. Very interesting Blog brought back many memories thanks.

    Kind regards, Angela Jones

    Well thats one mystery solved...

  4. Hi, The Beatles also stayed at the Priory Hotel on Fulford Road. My Mum worked there at the time, she said John Lennon was not well when they stayed there. She was sworn to secrecy and did not tell me they were there until after they had left. She did give me a large photo of the Beatles which they gave her but unfortunately it wasn't signed!
    Regards Chris

  5. I just obtained a complete autograph book from the show on May 29, 1963. It has all 4 Beatles, Roy Orbinson, MerseyBeats, Rory Storm among others. Would love to get a ticket stub or any other memorabilia to go with it! Please send any details to garrettmanhart@yahoo.com.