Wednesday 19 October 2022

Walking The Beatles’ London - October 2022 (part two)

A recap: On Saturday 8 October 2022, I travelled down to ‘That London’ with my friend and fellow Beatles historian Steve Bradley [1] to attend Evolver 62, Mark Lewisohn’s one-man show at the Bloomsbury Theatre. 

The show didn’t start until 7.30pm so we agreed in advance that it would be too late to travel home afterwards and decided to make a weekend of it. Armed with The Beatles London [2], the indispensable guide to the 467 Beatles’ sites in the capital, Steve drew up an itinerary and we decided to try and visit as many as we could. 

Of course, we didn't get anywhere near the magic 467, but I discovered that if you are prepared to spend two days walking 23 miles [3] around the streets of London, powered primarily by Guinness and wine gums, you do manage to see quite a lot of them.

And so, in the order we visited them, here's day one, part two:

34 Montagu Square, W1

Ringo Starr took out a lease on the ground floor and basement maisonette flat in this Regency building in 1965. He only lived here for a short time after he married Maureen Cox but maintained the lease even after they purchased ‘Sunny Heights’, their mansion house in Weybridge.

Clockwise (from top right) Jimi Hendrix in the flat; the flat today; Paul and Ringo, 26 October 1965 leaving 34 Montagu Square enroute to Buckingham Palace to receive their MBE awards from the Queen; Ringo and Maureen.

In 1966, Paul McCartney leased the flat from Ringo and used it as studio where he recorded demo versions of several songs, notably Eleanor Rigby.

A year later, in 1967, Ringo sublet the flat to Jimi Hendrix who shared it with his manager Chas Chandler, and Lilian Powell – John Lennon’s mother-in-law -though I’m guessing not at the same time.   

John ended his marriage with Cynthia in 1968. In July, he moved into the flat with Yoko Ono, and it was the two events that occurred during this period that most fans associate with the property today.

On Saturday 3 August 1968, John and Yoko took the famous nude photographs that are featured on the cover of their experimental album Unfinished Music No.1 - Two Virgins. Reportedly John had called Tony Bramwell in the afternoon and asked him to bring some milk. When he arrived, John sheepishly asked him how to operate the timed shutter release on his camera. When Bramwell departed, John and Yoko disrobed and, well, you’ve seen the results. But if you haven’t, brace yourself:  

Oh, look, you’ve even got The Times in’ [4]

The following day, Tony was asked to visit 34 Montagu Square again. This time, John asked him if he knew anywhere that would develop photographs of a sensitive nature with discretion. Bramwell said he knew a place in Soho that could be trusted, and John handed over the roll of film.[5] 

At 11.55am on Friday 18 October 1968 the police, led by Detective Sergeant Norman Pilcher arrived at the flat with a search warrant. Pilcher had made a name for himself arresting Donovan, Brian Jones, and most notoriously, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, working his way up the pop music ladder until he reached the top rung – The Beatles. 

The Daily Mirror’s Don Short had given John notice that he was now on Pilcher’s radar and so, in advance of the expected ‘bust’, he ensured that the flat was ‘clean’, mindful of the previous tenant’s excesses, and I don’t mean Lilian Powell.  Oddly, despite John’s efforts, Pilcher’s dogs still managed to find cannabis resin in both a leather binocular case and a suitcase (just in case). John and Yoko were promptly arrested, and newspaper photographers snapped them being led out of the property (see above). 

In what appeared to be a plea bargain for all the charges against Yoko to be dropped (because she was pregnant and there was a chance she might be deported) John pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis resin and was fined £150 plus 20 guineas court fees.    

Because of the arrest, an injunction was brought against Ringo by the landlords for permitting the immoral and improper use of the flat, and he was forced to sell his lease.

In 2010, an English Heritage blue plaque was placed on the building indicating its historical interest. 

This was definitely one of the highlights of day one.

30 Montagu Square, W1

In 1967 this was the address of Marijke Koger and Simon Posthuma, two members of the Dutch design collective known as the Fool. They were associated with the Beatles throughout 1967 and 1968, designing clothes for the group, decorating their musical instruments, producing artwork for Sgt. Pepper (not used) and painting a huge mural on the side of a building we’ll visit shortly. Several Beatles visited them here. [6]

13a Bryanston Mews, W1

While Keith Richards was being waited upon in his Hilton Suite, Mick Jagger was living in this mews flat just behind Montagu Square.

Here’s a picture of Mick, 22, in the flat displaying all the trappings of a Sixties pop star – a trendy teak room divider, two candlesticks and a vase. He’s also got two telephones. Rock and Roll excess don't get much worse than this.

On 8 January 1966, Mick hosted a party here with three Beatles in attendance. Paul was in Liverpool (good lad Paul) and missed it. After Mick moved out the lease was taken up by The Mamas and the Papa’s who received a visit from Lennon and McCartney one night in June 1966.   

This house, an odd, box-like construction somewhat out of place amongst the adjacent mews properties would have cost Mick about £8,000 to buy in the mid-Sixties. Today, you’d probably pay in the region of £820,000. That's not a typo.

15 Montagu Place, W1

On 9 November 1961 Alistair Taylor accompanied Brian Epstein to the Cavern Club to see the Beatles for the first time. An employee of Brian’s Nems Enterprises, Alistair moved down to London with the rest of the organisation and went on to become general manager at Apple until 1969. This was his home from the mid- to late-sixties. All of the Beatles visited him here on occasions.

40 Montagu Mansions, W1

Flat 40 was the home of EMI Recording manager, Normal Newell. Some of the Beatles attended his New Years Eve parties on 31 December 1964 and again in 1965. In between John Lennon was one of the guests at a party Newell threw for the singer Johnny Mathis on 16 May 1965.  

94 Baker Street, W1

With Baker Street being known the world over, primarily for being the home of the renowned fictional ‘consulting detective’ Sherlock Holmes (at 221B), but additionally Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks and the London Planetarium, I’m surprised nobody has been inspired to write a song about it. 

On 7 December 1967, the Beatles opened a place ‘where beautiful people can buy beautiful things [7] at 94 Baker Street. The Apple shop was often referred to as the Apple boutique, but never by John Lennon, who hated the word.

The week before opening the building was covered by a giant psychedelic mural on the exterior walls painted by The Fool (see 30 Montagu Square). Contrary to the popular story, they didn’t hire twenty art students to paint it. Marijke and Simon painted the mural together on scaffolds in a weekend. They had one assistant, Micky Finn, who they did not know. He happened to pass by when they had just started and offered his help. He would later become the drummer in T. Rex.  

The mural lasted 5 months. Complaints from neighbouring businesses that the design was not in keeping with the area led to the building being repainted white in May 1968. 

The shop was not a success. Shoplifting was rife and in the end the Beatles got bored and decided to close the store in July 1968 after a two-day giveaway of the remaining stock, the Beatles of course going in beforehand and taking the ‘best stuff’ for themselves. 

I knew beforehand that the original 17th century building that housed the Apple Boutique had been demolished in 1974 and a modern building, of similar dimensions now occupies the site. I thought it would still be worth visiting if only to get a photo of the building in the context of its surroundings. Besides, The Beatles London mentions that the building has an unofficial plaque which strangely commemorates only John Lennon - not the Beatles – that I wanted to see.

Alas when we got there you couldn’t see anything because of the scaffold. A musical comedy trio including the poet Roger McGough and Paul McCartney’s brother Mic…. Hang on, that’s not right. See the plaque? We couldn’t even see the building standing in place of the old one that we’d really wanted to see. What you might call an epic failure. On to the next round…….[8]

4-6 Blandford Street, W1

In the file Help! there is a memorable Beatles’ scene where ‘seeking enlightenment as to rings they approached the nearest oriental’ which happened to be filmed here at what was then the Dolphin Restaurant but appeared on-screen as the Rajahama Indian restaurant for the purposes of the plot. 

The interior kitchen and dining scenes were filmed on a purpose-built set at Twickenham Studios, during which the Beatles had their first real exposure to Indian music. I can say no more.

52 Manchester Street, W1 

Continuing our tour of the houses of famous Admirals and Hydrographer’s we paused to take a photograph of 52 Manchester Street, the former home of Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) [9]. Quite conveniently, this also turns out to be the 1960s address of the actor Victor Spinetti, friend of the Beatles and co-star in their films A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour. He also collaborated with John Lennon on the 1968 stage adaption of his book In His Own Write.

George Martin and his wife Judy Lockhart Smith, the parents of Giles ‘keep me away from that mixing desk’ Martin once lived at 55 Manchester Street, which saw regular visits from Paul McCartney. Unfortunately, the building has been demolished and a new building stands in its place. I took a photo, just to prove I was there, but it was under renovation and there’s not much point of posting another photo of building that replaced the original one of interest, especially when it’s covered up with scaffolding.

20 Manchester Square, W1

This photo shows a building that replaced the original one of interest, covered with scaffolding while it undergoes renovation. Sadly, this is quite a loss for Beatle fans, being the former site of EMI house, the headquarters of EMI records between 1960 and 1995.

The Beatles came here numerous times, taking part in radio broadcasts, award presentations, business meetings, and most famously to shoot the cover photographs for two albums.  On 16 or 20 February 1963, they were photographed by Angus McBean, peering over the balcony railing of the first-floor atrium. The resulting photograph was used on the cover of their first album, Please Please Me while an alternate shot appeared on the cover of The Beatles (No. 1) EP.  Six years later, John Lennon asked McBean to reshoot an updated version of the photograph, intended for their Get Back album. The session took place around the 13 May 1969. Ultimately McBean’s resulting images of the now much hairier four went unused during the group’s lifetime as the album was shelved. 

In 1973, a third photograph from McBean’s 1963 session, together with a 1969 counterpart was used on the covers of the red 1962-66 and blue 1967-70 compilation albums.  

On 5 March 1963, the Beatles were photographed on the spiral staircase outside the main building leading down to the basement.

All of this disappeared when the building was demolished in November 1999.

EMI house had a photographic studio in the basement and their artists were routinely photographed at various locations around Manchester Square whenever quick publicity material was required. One such artist was David Bowie, then still Davy Jones, and his group the Lower Third. 

To promote the August 1965 release of their single ‘You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving’ (Parlophone R 5315) they were photographed on the corner with Hinde Street, and so was I.  

7 Duke Street, W1

Just off Manchester Square is the Devonshire Arms, a fine pub occasionally visited by the Beatles. On 16 November 1962, Brian brought them here for their first meeting with Tony Barrow, a Liverpudlian in London who wrote the sleeve-notes for Decca records. Barrow also did freelance work, contributing a weekly record review column to the Liverpool Echo, and had written the publicity release for Love Me Do, effectively promoting a new EMI group from behind a desk of a rival London record label, Decca. He was in the process of writing the press release for the follow up, Please Please Me, and Epstein was hoping to persuade him to leave Decca and join Nems. Barrow eventually left Decca around May 1963, becoming their press officer on a full-time basis. He accompanied them on their world tours in 1965 and 1966 and in 1967 compiled the booklet for the Magical Mystery Tour EP. He left the Beatles in 1968 and set up his own PR company.  

It's always nice to find somewhere that acknowledges the Beatles’ connection. There’s a small display at the back of the pub. The lad behind the bar was very accommodating too and if we hadn’t already stopped for a drink earlier, we would definitely have done so here. Next time.

13 Thayer Street, W1 

This was formerly a French restaurant called Genevieve, visited by the Beatles on 19 May 1966 during a break from filming the promotional films for Paperback Writer and Rain in EMI Studios, Abbey Road. 

57 Wimpole Street, W1

Another must-see London location for me. The former residence of the Asher family.

After moving to London, three of the Beatles quickly bought houses in the outer suburbs surrounding the capital. Paul McCartney, the first to move out of the Beatles’ shared flat in Green Street, preferred to stay in central London, at the heart of it all, and for the first three years (November 1963 until early 1966) he lived in this fine townhouse, lodging with the family of his girlfriend, Jane Asher. Paul had the spare bedroom in the attic.

He got on well with the Ashers and loved their slightly eccentric household. Margaret Asher became like a second Mum to him, something he welcomed since losing his own mother Mary in 1956. 

Margaret was a professor at the Guildhall School of music. An orchestral player for much of her life, she turned to teaching once she started a family, and the children would often arrive home from school to the sound of Bach, Handel or badly played scales. One of Margaret’s pupils was a young man named George Martin, the future Beatles’ producer, who came to her for oboe lessons. In later years she would teach Paul McCartney how to play the recorder. 

Jane’s father, Richard Asher was a well-respected consultant physician and brilliant teacher and writer. In 1951 he first described and named Munchausen’s syndrome in an article in The Lancet, and numbered Oliver Sacks, Jonathan Miller and Roger Bannister among his students. His private consulting rooms were on the ground floor and the family lived above them. At the dinner table he would give fascinating descriptions of his patients and their illnesses. Jane would later recall that her favourite book at bedtime was Tales from the London hospital, a grisly collection that included the extraordinary story of the “Elephant Man”. At Jane’s insistence, her father took her to see Joseph Merrick’s skeleton in the hospital museum.

Margaret and Richard had three children: Peter, born 1944, who would become a member of the pop duo Peter and Gordon, and later a record producer, Jane Asher, born 1946 who from the age of five became a film and TV actress, and later novelist, and Clare Asher, 1948, a radio actress.

Whilst Margaret loved all three children unconditionally and was full of praise, Richard offered more realistically critical views, together they were the perfect combination. Paul loved being around them, and in turn, they were very protective of him.

Jane’s father, Richard kept a piano in the basement rooms (visible from the street) and it was here that Lennon and McCartney composed I Want to Hold Your Hand in October 1963 - the Beatles’ first US number one record.   If you've ever heard Paul tell the story of how he woke up having 'dreamt' the song Yesterday, this is where he woke up. Inspired by Jane he wrote And I Love Her and Every Little Thing here, amongst a great many early period compositions including those written during difficult moments in their relationship - We Can Work It Out, I'm Looking Through You, and You Won't See Me

Looking back on his time in Wimpole Street in his 2021 Lyrics book, Paul expressed sadness that the split with Jane had inevitably meant losing contact with her family too.  

In 1964 Richard Asher suddenly gave up his post at the Central Middlesex Hospital. He suffered from depression in later life and in 1969 he sadly took his own life, aged 57, at his Wimpole Street home.  

[1] Steve’s website:

[2] By Mark Lewisohn, Piet Schreuders and Adam Smith (2008 edition)

[3] FACT!  I have a photo of the blisters if proof required.

[4] Said Ringo when shown the album cover. The Times dates from 1 August 1968.

[5] So basically, it’s all Bramwell’s fault. And how did he know where to get dodgy snaps developed?

[6] Great article on The Fool here:

[7] Paul McCartney, 1967

[8] Since The Beatles' London book was published the plaque has been removed and replaced by a new plaque from the Heritage Foundation commemorating the fact that John Lennon AND George Harrison, “worked here”.

[9] Inventor of the Beaufort scale for indicating wind force. He must have been thrilled when he discovered that the scale he’d created shared his surname. Seriously, what are the chances? 


  1. This and the previous one are excellent posts - thank you. I live in London and it shames me to say I haven't been to most of these places. I cannot get over how so many of them lived in the heart of the West End - something all but impossible now.
    That John and George 'worked here' plaque will be because you need to be dead for 20 years before you get a blue plaque, and happily Paul and Ringo won't qualify for a while yet.

  2. A lovely treat to read this. Over the years, since I quite often visit London for work purposes, I've visited most of these sites. I think the one I was saddest about was visiting Manchester Square and not being able to see the stairwells. I'd love to spend a couple of days trying to do the full tour. I am fairly confident in stating English Heritage have a 20 year after death rule for the blue plaques, hence only J & G can currently be celebrated. I am sure we all hope that it is a long time before we see all four commemorated on a plaque!

  3. Apologies - Will mentioned the 20 year rule first. Sorry for the repetition...

  4. Thanks for your nice comments. I think by the time I'm done with this there could be 7 or 8 posts about our London trip. :)