Sunday 7 February 2016

No match for "Mr Moonlight": Earlestown, 30 November 1962

Town Hall,
Market Street,

Earlestown from above. The Town Hall is clearly visible right of centre

Historically within Lancashire, Earlestown is named after Hardman Earle* (11 July 1792 - 25 January 1877) who was the Chairman of the London and North Western railway. The town forms the western part of Newton-le-Willows, about a 40 minutes drive from Liverpool.

Earlestown owes its location - indeed its very existence - to early transport links such as the nearby Sankey Canal and the Liverpool to Manchester railway. In July 1831, the Warrington and Newton railway was opened, less than 6 months after the Liverpool and Manchester railway began service. A railway station was built at the junction of the two railways, a mile west of the town of Newton in Makerfield (now Newton-le-Willows) and was given the name Newton Junction. A locomotive and wagon works was built just west of the station and a model town was constructed for its workers. In 1837, the name of the station was changed to Earlestown. Other industries followed and significant employers in the town included the Sankey Sugar works and T and T Vicars Ltd, who moved to Earlestown from their Liverpool premises in 1867. They made machinery for the continuous production of biscuits, bread, wafers and confectionery.

On 21 March 1921, ukulele player, singer and comedian George Formby (left) gave his first ever professional appearance (billed as George Hoy - his mother's maiden name) in a two-week run at the Earlestown Hippodrome, where he received a fee of £5 a week. John Lennon and George Harrison were both big fans, George going so far as to attending a George Formby Convention in the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool in 1991, delighting those present with a rendition of "In My Little Snapshot Album" performed on ukelele!

The town hall stands on the junction of Market, Tamworth and Stanley Streets, fronted by a war memorial.

The Beatles engagement in Earlestown occurred at the end of a hectically busy week, something which was becoming the norm at the end of 1962.

The previous Saturday (24th) the Beatles had performed at the Royal Lido Ballroom in Prestatyn, North Wales before travelling back to Liverpool on the Sunday for an evening appearance at the Cavern Club.

On Monday the group returned to EMI Studio Two in Abbey Road, London to record their second single, Please, Please Me b/w Ask Me Why.  Travelling down by train they arrived at the studio for 6pm and recording took place between 7pm and 9.45pm. 18 takes of Please, Please Me were recorded and six of Ask Me Why. The single was released on 11 January 1963.

The group stayed overnight in London, spending the afternoon of Tuesday 27th at the BBC's Paris Studio in Regent Street recording a radio session for the Light Programme show The Talent Spot . People listening to the broadcast on Tuesday 4th December heard the Beatles perform Love Me Do, PS I Love You, and Twist And Shout.

On Wednesday 28 November the Beatles were back in Liverpool with two night time engagements. After a performance at the Cavern the group made their way over to Lewis's Department Store in Ranelagh Street, providing the music for the staff's "Young Idea Dance" held on the top floor.

The day before the Earlestown show the Beatles were over on the Wirral, playing a Thursday night booking at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead.

The Earlestown engagement was billed as ‘The Big Beat Show No 2’, and was presented by the football section of the T  and T Vicars Sports and Social Club.

Google "Beatles" together with the name of a UK town where they performed and more often than not you will find a blog or discussion board about that specific town where local people have shared their memories of the night they saw the Beatles.

The discussion board: has several gems worth repeating here together with a few quotes that illustrate how time can play tricks on the memory, no matter how sure of the facts some people think they are:

I am just speaking on Skype to my Dad (as I type) and he tells me that they had a "do" for Vicks football Club at Earlestown Town Hall and top of the Bill was none other than the Beatles. I wonder if anyone who went took a photo of the Beatles at the town Hall? (She, 2.2.10)

Paul at the mike, onstage in Earlestown 30 November 1962. The photo was taken by Tom Tyrrell, a press photographer and journalist working in and around the northwest. The audience seem more interested in the camera than the Beatles!

I recently read an article in the local newspaper that covered that event (at) the Boys Club, in which Frankie Vaughan opened the premises in Grafton Street in November 1960. That newspaper was the Newton and Earlestown Guardian (I think) and can be viewed at the local Library. You can also order a print off of the story if you wish.(mike 59)

Sorry you are wrong the Club opened 30 11 62 by Frankie (approx 3500 crowd) the same night the Beatles appeared at the Town Hall (approx 33 crowd). (michaelchorley, 26.10.10)

There was more than 33 there! Although the majority turned out to see Pat Phoenix I'm sure (neileen, 26.10.10)

If my memory serves me well it was on a Friday night that the 'Silver Beatles' played the town hall ' I can remember the 'day bill' (handbill) that was pasted on the brick wall of the railway bridge in 'Bridge Street', the image was 'a pen and ink' illustration of a 'beetle'!  Frankie Vaughan opened the Boys club that same evening!
(mark gardiner, 29.10.10)

The group had dropped the "Silver" prefix in 1960, long before they had a record contract.

I've seen a small advertisement for that performance at the Town Hall, it didn't mention any other acts, or even a start time, it went something like 'Why hang around outside, when you can come inside and see The Beetles'. It also mentioned something about getting the chance to either sing, or win the 'Love Me Do' record !!

My husband was hanging around outside the Town Hall with the other kids that night, but being two weeks off his thirteenth birthday, he didn't go in as dancing wasn't his thing and he was a bit young! But he's gone on ever since about how impressed he was with George Harrison's two-tone Ford Consul that night, parked near Welch's fishing tackle shop! (Colliedog, 21.10.10)

The Ford Consul Classic belonged to Paul, his first car. George had only just bought his first car, a Ford Anglia 150E, a month or so before the Earlestown show.

This was all a little before my time, but a few years ago somebody told me that after the band had played at the Town Hall John Lennon went into the Newmarket for a pint - not sure if this is true or not, the person who told me is a bit of a dreamer.
(WillieBob, 29.1.07)

Hi Earlestown, I was there, I remember walking out, they were rubbish, !!!  I think they played at the Viaduct club around that time. My wife Maria Frodsham went out with Macca for 7 weeks but luckily she married me. (Bionic, 12.12.06)

We weren't always good. You'd have these disastrous nights where you're all out of tune, you forget how to turn the amps up, you forget where your levels are and exactly how near (to) the mike it is you've got to sing (Paul McCartney in conversation with Mike Read, BBC Radio 1, 13.10.87)

I can find no record of the group ever performing at the Viaduct Club.

The Beatles did indeed appear at Earlestown Town Hall in fact my cousin danced with John Lennon the same night..A Wargrave man Jimmy Hamnett who died not very long ago used to carry the contract for that night in his wallet and would proudly show it to anyone who asked round and about in the pubs.
(Steven Dowd 13.3.05) 

I think it was Siobhan who told me her dad was in the audience that night.... and apparently, John Lennon asked him, "where does all the local crumpet hang out?" Now we know - they were all drooling over Frankie Vaughan in the Boy's Club! Gimme the moonlight.... (Vic, 5.10.12)

What's clear is that the Beatles weren't the biggest draw in the town that night. The Liverpool born singer Frankie Vaughan was opening the Newton Boys Club in nearby Grafton Street to packed out rooms with many disappointed fans outside unable to get in.

"Mr Moonlight":  Frankie Vaughan at a record signing in Liverpool.

Frank Abelson was born in Devon Street, Liverpool in 1928.  The stage name 'Vaughan' came from his grandmother who used to call him 'my number one' grandson (because he was the first one born). In her Russian accent 'one' sounded like 'Vaughan'.  His career began in the late 1940s performing song and dance routines. He was a flamboyant dresser, wearing a top hat, bow tie, tails and a cane. In the 1950s he worked for a few years with the band of  Nat Temple before making records under his own name. In 1955, he recorded what was to become his trademark song, "Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl".

In his early life, he was a member of the Lancaster Lads' Club, a member group of the National Association of Boys' Clubs in the UK. During his career he was a major contributor to different Boy's clubs - his appearance in Earlestown being one of many visits he made around the country - even going so far as donating the royalties from one of his songs to them each year in gratitude for the important part they played in his youth.

I think that the same night Frankie Vaughan played the Boy's Club in Earlestown and more people showed up there!!! (daveR, 12.11.06)

If I recall right, Pat Phoenix (Elsie Tanner in 'Coronation Street') appeared with the Beatles that night (Mike)

Pat Phoenix was an English Actress who became one of British TV's first sex symbols through her role as Elsie Tanner in Granada TV's 'Coronation Street'. She was an original cast member from 1960 to 1973 (returning in 1976 and staying until 1984). I can't uncover anything which might explain why she was there (one source says she 'opened' for the Beatles but not in what capacity, certainly I can't find any reference to her ever singing during her career. As she was two years into her role as Elsie Tanner and probably considered something of a celebrity actress perhaps she'd been invited to Earlestown simply to introduce the Beatles on stage and pull a few more punters in).

Patricia "Pat" Phoenix on the front 
of the TV Times, November 1964

Despite recollections suggesting the Beatles had a bit of an "off" night, I wonder how many of the audience of 33 or more who remember the gig today could ever have predicted that the four Liverpool lads with the funny haircuts they had been dancing to at the town hall that night would become the biggest group in history?

I wonder if "Mr Moonlight" was in the set-list that night?


* Hardman Earle lived in Allerton Tower, off Menlove Avenue, Liverpool.


The Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn.

THE BEATLES - A collection of ephemera put together by the vendor Tom Tyrrell, a press photographer and journalist working in and around the northwest from the 1960s onwards. An original black and white photograph taken by Tom Tyrrell of The Beatles at The Earlestown Hall, Newton-Le-Willows before going on stage, Friday 30th November 1962, Ringo is seen holding an advanced copy of their recently released first EMI record "Love Me Do" with letter of provenance from the vendor and photographer, also this picture comes with the publishing rights to the image. Also one other original photograph of The Beatles appearing on stage at The Earlestown Hall, Newton-Le-Willows on Friday November 30th 1962, again sold with letter of provenance by the photographer and vendor Mr Tom Tyrrell and all publishing rights to this image  (Source: F.R. Marshall and Co. / 17th March 2009)

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