The Beatles in
By Alex Kocan
Police Officer Peter Gibson of the Nottingham City Police Force was assigned to guard the Beatles dressing room. He retired in 1990 after 35 years service to the force. He chatted about that day:
"Many of my colleagues were on the street holding back the crowd, but I got the job of being on their door. The band passed by me every now and then while they were walking the corridors. They were very talkative young guys."
Discussing the atmosphere inside the theatre, Peter said, "The crowd was getting hysterical, especially the young girls. The noise was extremely loud."
Other eye witness accounts suggest than many fans had to lie down due to exhaustion brought on by screaming.
Peter also confirmed where the band went, initially, after the show:
"The lads came for a couple of drinks in the police bar at my station on Shakespeare Street. In those days all police stations had private bars. Those lads must have been totally exhausted after everything they had just gone through. They sat in the corner in comfy chairs while they relaxed, had a drink and a smoke. They just chatted amongst themselves basically. They were as good as gold."
Over a year passed by until the Beatles next, and final, trip to the area on Thursday November 5th 1964.
Very little information appears to be available about this concert. However, there was a small piece in the Nottingham Evening Post about the police procedures surrounding the group's departure from the concert. This was needed even more than on their previous trip as now Beatlemania was in full swing. 'A Hard Day's Night' had been released on July 10th the same year. The police
organized a decoy police van to depart from the theatre earlier than the band to trick the abundance of screaming fans away from the stage door to enable them to walk out totally undetected.
Later that night the Beatles arrived back at the Swan Hotel in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire where they were staying. They'd also booked into the hotel on their previous trips to the area.
Douglas Colton Lee was commis chef at the Swan Hotel in the early 1960s and he reminisced:
"I have some great memories of those four lads. Not only did I prepare every meal they ate at the hotel I also had many chats with them when I bumped into them in the corridor."
When the band was in residence at the hotel they practiced in one of the reception rooms. On one occasion they went off for a break and Mr. Lee's friend walked into a room full of instruments.
Douglas continued, "My friend was a bass player. He just couldn't resist picking up Paul's bass and having a go on it. He loved doing it. He must have told everyone that would listen about that experience over the years."
He also recalled, "My girlfriend at the time loved the Beatles. I had been given a complete set of autographs, personally, the last time they stayed at the Swan. I gave my girlfriend the autographs. I didn't really think about it again until this year when I discovered how much they would be worth today. I was mortified."
In 2004 a complete set of Beatles autographs sold on Internet site ebay for approximately nine thousand dollars.
To conclude the piece I thought I would have one final search of the Nottingham Evening Post archives.
Something often said about the Beatles music is that it is timeless and loved by all generations. I discovered an example of just this in an edition printed on the same day as the Elizabethan Ballroom concert. Hidden away in a small two line article, amongst the birthday wishes, was a reference to perhaps the oldest fan ever recorded.
Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, 104 years old, from the East Midlands, loved nothing more than listening to pop records, particularly the Beatles, throughout the day, to keep her mind active and her heart young.
Researching and writing this article has been more taxing than I imagined, but it has certainly been worth it. It has also been a very rewarding project because I learnt more about the band that, in my opinion, is the best band that ever was.
The Odeon theatre closed its doors for the last time on January 28th 2001 after 68 years of entertaining the people of Nottingham.