Friday 24 April 2015

Breaking the Mold

Assembly Hall
High Street,
Flintshire, North Wales

Mold is a busy market town in Flintshire, North Wales, not far from the border with England. The Beatles made one appearance at the Assembly Hall in the town centre on the evening of 24 January 1963.

The Beatles were paid £50, an extremely large fee, as bands who appeared there usually received, on average between £8 and £10. The local council had at first been very reluctant to pay them any more than the going rate and spent a considerable time in discussion before agreeing to the deal.

Rhona Jardine-Phillips who was involved in arranging dances on Thursday evenings told the Wrexham Leader in 2001: Some people thought it was rather a lot of money for a group.

In fact, £50 was a fraction of the fee that the group was commanding at the time.

They were booked in the October or November of 1962 for just £50 by the old Mold Urban District Council. Shortly after that the band went to Hamburg and they released "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" and were really beginning to make it big. From what I understand they were then charging £700 a show and were reluctant to honour the Mold commitment, but their manager Brian Epstein insisted they did. (Elly Roberts, music journalist)

Ringo and George backstage at the Assembly Hall, Mold

They had been booked to play for two hours. The Cavern Club's DJ Bob Wooler travelled down to compère the night, and Epstein was also present, as was Paul McCartney's brother Mike. Rumours abound that the Beatles spent the early evening in the nearby hostelry and were a little worse for wear on arrival.  Being drunk on stage did not appear to affect their performance (see the Star Club tapes) and the council had to agree with the teenagers who had packed the Assembly Hall that the money had been well spent. The assembly hall did not sell alcohol which may explain why they had spent the pre-performance elsewhere.

Or did they?

The Wrexham Leader pop page "Off Beat" ran an interview with the Beatles on 29 January conducted by their reporter David Sandison who wrote that he spent two hours backstage with them at the hall. 

David Sandison interviews Paul McCartney (photo by Michael McCartney)

"D.D.S. Meets The Beatles" declared the banner headline of what was perhaps the earliest of lengthy newspaper interviews with the group.

The lead column read "Off Beat's David Sandison was on the scene at Mold Assembly Hall on Thursday night (24 January). The Beatles, the new name in the new wave of beat music were given a great welcome by the hundreds of fans who packed the hall. The appearance was a screaming success, as two hundred ecstatic fans proved when the boys took to the stage. A quick return appearance seems likely for the popular Liverpool lads.

Sandison,in a two hour long interview with the Fab Four,described his meeting thus: The door of the dressing room opened a few inches and a face peered out. 'Wrexham Leader', I said. 'Come in lad' said the face, and yelled back in the room 'Press!' A hand was pushed into mine and John Lennon, the leader of the Beatles, introduced me to the other members of the group.'Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, sit down,if you can find a seat.

Having found a seat,Sandison launched into a marathon interview the content of which was to be repeated a thousand times in the early years of Beatlemania.'What don't you like about popularity?' Paul answered 'The long journey to dates.Once you you've arrived it's fine,but the hours wasted in cars and trains are enough to drive you round the bend.'

I remarked on the strong rhythm and blues touch to their music.This time John Lennon spoke up.'That figures,because Ray Charles is our idea of the end.'

Chuck Berry another rhythm and blues specialist rates in in their wide repertoire,with numbers like Sweet Little Sixteen producing a fantastic, almost Nashville sound. Nashville, is of course, the Country and Western centre of the world, and there is more than a touch of Country Music in their arrangements. Talking about Nashville, it came out in conversation that George Harrison is a great Chet Atkins fan. The boys amusement at the other hobbies George had (food and girls) prompted me to ask them what their hobbies were. John Lennon and Paul McCartney spoke as one man in their tastes. 'Girls, song writing, eating and sleeping Ringo Starr, the frantic drummer who supplied the force behind the Beatles was quick to answer. 'Driving, music (Dinah Washington and Ray Charles) and girls'

Also on the bill were the brilliantly named Dave Roman and The Chariots.

I was rhythm guitarist in the Chariots on the night we supported the Beatles in Mold. Lead guitarist Terry Wilcox now lives in Silverstone I believe. Does anyone know what happened to Dave Reevey the lead singer of the Chariots last heard of in Ellesmere Port? As we were setting up equipment I played a tune on the piano for Paul McCartney and he said "It's good that". I have dined out on this tale many times since! (Wally Rees)

What did they play? The nearest available set list we have to the date of the Assembly Hall show is this one, from Sheffield on 12 February 1963. In the early months of 1963 they were still performing sets heavy with cover versions, at Sheffield only 9 out of the 20 songs played were original compositions and no doubt the Mold show was very similar. David Sandison's report certainly seems to indicate Sweet Little Sixteen was performed, as were the group's two singles to date, Love Me Do and Please, Please Me.

Azena Ballroom, Sheffield, 12 February 1963

I Saw Her Standing There
Sweet Little Sixteen
Beautiful Dreamer
Hey Good Lookin'
Love Me Do
Baby It's You
Three Cool Cats
Please, Please Me
Some Other Guy
Ask Me Why
Roll Over Beethoven
A Taste of Honey
Keep Your Hands Off My Baby
Do You Want To Know A Secret
From Me To You
Please Please Me (possible encore)
Long Tall Sally

Memories of the show:

Paul McCartney sang to me for my 16th birthday which I was celebrating that week. Happy memories. (Jennifer Hughes (Evans), from Wrexham)

I was 18 years old when The Beatles came to Mold. I lived in the town at the time. When we got in, we rushed up the stairs. There were lots of boys and girls with a big gang from Liverpool. They were doing the 'Stomp' to music by The Chariots. (Bernice Sivel, Wrexham)

I was with the boys for about two hours and when the time came for them to do their act, I went ahead to take a look at crowd. The minute Paul and John came out of the door to the stage, the place was filled with screams as hundreds of girls clamoured forward.The screams were carried on through the hour they were on stage. (David Sandison)

The Beatles were on a little raised platform across the corner, not a stage, so you could actually get to them. We knew they were special. They had already had one hit and the second was going up the charts. It was ticketed so lots of people couldn't get in. I think I paid five shillings or seven and six, which is about 30p in today's money. I danced the night away. They were fantastic and appeared to enjoy themselves. (Margaret Lysaght, 16 in 1963, Mold)

When The Beatles came on there was a lot of pushing and shoving again as they moved towards the stage to get close up. I clearly remember them playing Love Me Do and Please, Please Me. They were fantastic that night, and we were besotted with them. At the end of their spot I tried to grab Paul McCartney's scarf, but he wouldn't let me have it. It turned into a bit of a tug-o-war and he said, 'It's the only one Ive got,' and left the room. (Bernice Sivel, Wrexham)

I was at this show. I was 20 years old at the time. I went with a gang of friends. I paid about 60 old pence for the ticket. The place was packed with lots of screaming girls. Everyone was very excited, as they'd just become known through their TV appearances and the single Love Me Do. There was probably twice the normal crowd for the regular Thursday night dances. I'm certain that their manager Brian Epstein was there too, but I thought he was just the compere. (Owen Thomas, Cilcain)

It was out of this world.There was talk about it for weeks afterwards. I will always remember Brian Epstein's face,he was absolutely mesmerised with the reception that the youngsters gave the band. (Rhona Jardine-Phillips)

After the show the Beatles signed autographs for the fans.

I was lucky enough to win the second door prize, it was their 1st single, a 45 record "Love Me Do". I got to go on stage to collect it. Later that night someone I knew asked if I wanted the record autographed. I said OK and we went down behind the stage to the dressing room. All the group signed the record. I was made up.
(Dave, Canada, formerly Mold)

I was on the Mold Urban District Council at the time. I was a doorman on the night they played at the Assembly Hall. They were booked to appear there in October 1962, then from the 18th to 31st December, they appeared at the Star Club in Hamburg, where they were very popular. I'm not certain if they wanted to come to Mold after that, but Brain Epstein insisted they honoured the booking. On the night, I was at the back entrance opposite the pub, where the artists came in. I didn't see the group on stage, but I can remember the noise inside, it was incredible. After the show, girls were screaming at the back entrance. I had a difficult job containing them, and I could only let two girls in at a time. The Beatles signed autographs on various parts of their anatomies! It was absolutely manic. The girls were going crazy. (Rupert Lloyd, from Llanarmon yn Iâl)

I was 17 at the time the Beatles came to Mold. . I was a Jones then from Northop and went to the dances in the Assembley every Thursday, along with Ann Catherall, Cath Piercy, and Vicky Lloyd, where we saw all the groups of the day. The night of the Beatles my younger sister was not allowed to go, but made me get their autographs for her. Not only did I get them for her, but came home with John Lennon's autograph on my arm! Unfortunately I was at another dance the following night and so had to wash it off the next day! (Marilyn Cadwallader from Llanarmon yn Iâl)

I was 19 years old at the time. A gang of us went to see The Beatles in Mold. I was one of the last to leave the Assembly Hall. Before I left I was asked to help move some of their instruments from the dressing room. I went down stairs and knocked on the door, and went in. They were drinking out of bottles as I recall. John Lennon said, 'Carry these things to the van!', in an abrupt voice. I told him in a very impolite way to take them himself, and left the building. That's my claim to fame
(Howard Williams, Nannerch)

I was a full-time pupil at Hawarden Grammar School and part-time roadie for Dave Roman (Revie) and the Chariots and was at Mold the night that The Beatles played in the Assembly Rooms. My enduring memories are: - Bob Wooller from the Cavern as visiting DJ / Announcer holding up a copy of that day's ? Daily Mirror with the Beatles featured in the charts with "Please, Please Me" - The equipment - Paul McCartney had a Vox 60 watt base amplifier with a transistorised head (a first in Mold) and Barry (AKA Snaz) Roberts, base player for the Chariots was invited to use it for the Chariots' slot on the bill! We couldn't get the smile off his face for weeks! - Brian Epstein very smartly dressed and wearing brown and white leather shoes which were definitely OTT for Mold on a winter's night! - Sharing the band room under the stairs that was tiny that we could hardly move with us and the Beatles in there - having to go to the pub across the alley to get a crate of beer and a bottle of Scotch for the bands because the Beatles could not go out without being mobbed by the girls that were outside in the cold (I think there was snow on the ground at the time) - seeing John Lennon eating a hot dog covered with tomato ketchup whilst still wearing his leather gloves - seeing John Lennon signing his autograph on a girl's thigh above her stocking top and down the front of her dress! - getting the autographs of John, Paul and Ringo in the band room - catching George Harrison for his autograph at the top of the stairs as he left early to visit his auntie in Hawarden (Broughton) on the way home to Liverpool (yes, I got all 4 on a single page and my sister still has these in a safe deposit box at her bank!) - a C&W group on the side stage as an additional supporting act (all Gibson Guitar and mean guitar picking) - coming home and telling my father that the Beatles were going places and would be very big (I was always one for understatement!) (Dr Ian M Millington, Swansea)

After the show three of the Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr went back to The Talbot pub (now Beaufort Arms) in Holywell, with two girls from the show. Their landlady mum was in bed, but the girls got her out of bed to make sandwiches for them. Paul McCartney played songs on a rickety up-right piano for about half an hour. They were very entertaining. Apparently George had gone from Mold to see his Auntie Jinnie in Broughton. As John, Paul and Ringo left the pub, the landlady asked them to pay up, so they gave her 30 shillings for the food. They did not stay there overnight. (Peter Roberts, Holywell)

Ian Brown, 18 at the time, was at the concert with his 17-year-old sister Moya when the pair invited The Beatles back to the pub "My sister Moya was friends with the tour manager for Gerry and the Pacemakers who were well acquainted with the Beatles. After the concert she persuaded them to come back to the pub for a drink. We took a couple of cars from Mold up to Holywell and I jumped in with Paul McCartney to show him the way. I was a really big fan so it was quite daunting"

But the party encountered a hitch when they made it to the Well Street pub: It was quite late so the pub was closed up,” said Ian. “We knocked on the door and my dad, John, answered. I told him he had to let us in because the Beatles were here, and he said ‘I don’t care who they are, they’re not coming in. But we twisted his arm in the end. They were very nice chaps. I remember that it was winter time and they were wearing leather gloves and scarves. We were all eating sandwiches and John Lennon was playing a tune on the upright piano. I thought it was a bit of a laugh at the time. Now when I see them on television, I tell everyone the story.

To conclude his article, journalist David Sandison asked whether the Beatles would make a return visit. 'We'd like to come back to Mold' said John 'but I don't know if they will want us back' . Signing off, Sandison was sure (that) "If the committee and fans of the Mold Assembly Hall have any say,the Beatles will be asked back...but soon!"

Margaret Lysaght: (After the show) John Lennon said "We've loved coming. We'd like to come again. You've paid us £50 but if we come again it'll be £500.

The Beatles never returned.

The Building

The building has changed little and is now a branch of the Lloyds TSB bank. In 2005 a campaign was launched for a plaque to be mounted on the wall of the former Assembly Hall commemorating the Beatles appearance. An application for the plaque was submitted to the conservation department of Flintshire Council by music journalist Elly Roberts and Beatles author and historian Ray O'Brien.

Mr Roberts said he had strong support from the community and wanted the plaque to be a "lasting honour" to the Liverpool band who honoured the booking at the Mold assembly hall on 24 January 1963.

Ray O'Brien said the memorial would help put the town on the map for fans.

"Liverpool is only 45 minutes away from Mold and every autumn 500,000 people go there for the Beatles convention," he said. "I arrange Beatles tours myself and I'm sure that some of those people who visit Liverpool could be persuaded to come to north Wales to see another item of memorabilia"

I was pleased to learn that both gentlemen got their wish. The plaque was unveiled on Tuesday 15 November 2005 with ITV Wales and BBC Radio Wales covering the event. However, unlike most (in fact all) of the other plaques on venues around the North West commemorating a Beatles' appearance, the one in Mold is not actually on the building where they performed.

Instead, you can find it on the wall inside the Y Pentan pub situated in New Street, next door to the Assembly Hall.  Reportedly this is where The Beatles spent some time before the concert and it was thought to be the ideal place after permission to put the plaque on the Assembly Hall was denied, apparently due to the listed status of the building.

Strangely, the listed status doesn't seem to have prevented this plaque being installed on the wall of the Assembly Hall by the Mold Civic Society. Most peculiar Mama... 

Pictured above is the original, one off handmade poster advertising the Beatles' performance at the Mold Assembly Hall on Thursday 24 January 1963. This came directly from the wall of the Mold Co-operative Building where it hung until recently coming up for auction.

Note: Before this gig the Beatles had made a personal appearance at the NEMS store in Whitechapel, Liverpool signing copies of their new single, Please, Please Me and unwittingly ensuring a great many local fans would be able to buy new boilers and the like fifty years later.

Signed examples of the Please, Please Me single obtained at NEMS on 24 January 1963. 


Google Maps for the image of the former Beaufort Arms / Tabot pub (on the right of the picture)


"The Beatles and Wales" by David Jones

"Remember" by Michael McCartney


  1. If you have any other information about the Beatles in Mold please get in touch. In particular I'd love to hear from anyone who went to the show.

  2. I've never understood either why the one plaque is attached to the front of the Assembly Hall yet the 'Beatles' one isn't. Talking about North Walian Beatle plaques, the one that commemorated the Fabs' gig at the Royal Lido, Prestatyn, was taken down three or four years ago and hasn't been replaced (to my knowledge). PS: I never made it to the Mold gig six miles away back in January 1963, not because of the snow, but because I was only two weeks old at the time!

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