162 Walton Road
The hall was used as a “Jive Hive” by Wally Hill's company, Peak Promotions - Peak being the name Bob Wooler came up with as a pun on Wally's surname - who also organised weekly dances at Holyoake Hall on Smithdown Road, Wavertree, the David Lewis Theatre on Great George Street in the city centre, and the Columba Hall in Widnes. The Beatles performed at each of the venues apart from Columba Hall.
The Beatles appeared here on five occasions, and the first, on Sunday 5 February 1961 was witnessed by the Remo Four, a band the Beatles admired and would regularly share the Cavern Club stage with during 1961 and 1962:
"The first time we ever saw the Beatles was at Blair Hall and anybody who played at Blair Hall will know that it had a sloping stage. I'd played there quite a lot, but Pete Best hadn't.
He set up his drum kit - and Pete was very very heavy on his bass drum which, to me, was a lot of the Beatles sound in those early days. The curtains opened and this mighty mighty sound came out. Pete Best was really hammering the drums and the bass drum started sliding forwards on the stage. He was hanging on to his bass drum with one hand and playing it with a stick in the other. He was in real trouble so I immediately ran round the back and got some string out of my case, which I always carried round with me, specially for Blair Hall. We tied it round Pete's bass drum and then we tied it round his seat - and that stopped his bass drum from sliding on the stage, no matter how hard he hit it.... every time after that he took a piece of string with him.
I thought Pete Best in those early days was a lot of the Beatles sound, when they were really hitting it out. All that stuff in the Cavern and Hamburg and the Hambleton Halls and the Blair Halls" (Harry Prytherch, drummer with the Remo Four)
Not all of the Remo Four were immediately overwhelmed. Formerly a Liverpool Institute classmate of Paul McCartney, and now the Remo's bass player, Don Andrew's vivid first impression of the Beatles was that they were dirty and "made a horrible deafening row"!
The Remo Four
Both Holyoake and Blair Halls were frequented by outbreaks of violence and Wally Hill would employ over a dozen bouncers for a hall only holding 400 people. Hill admits that it sounds excessive but stresses that it was a necessity because "when we had a riot and we had a few riots in our time, you needed them, you are protecting yourselves and not just the dance hall. They took Blair Hall to pieces (but) luckily by different methods we managed to hush it as otherwise we would have been thrown out. The odd knife was thrown... there were branches off trees and milk bottles but you get acclimatised to it and it becomes a way of life..... except for a few occasions we were in the strongest army"
planners finally did what gangs of drunken Teddy Boys could not, demolishing the hall to make way for a supermarket on the site. Another fine building lost.
Mark Lewisohn (The Beatles Chronicle)
Mark Lewisohn (Tune In)
Spencer Leigh (Drummed Out!)
Spencer Leigh (The Best of Fellas - The Story of Bob Wooler) *
Google Maps (colour photo of the site today)