October 9, 1964: ‘The Beatles stayed at our house on John Lennon’s birthday’
The Beatles live in 1964 - The Beatles / Youtube
The Beatles played at the Gaumont in Bradford on October 9, 1964 – which was also John Lennon’s 24th birthday. This was the opening night of their UK tour, where the fans sang happy birthday to him. The band stayed at a historic manor house on the night of the show in Bradford.
Gail Moss now owns Holdsworth House Hotel at Halifax, which was previously run by her parents Freddie and Rita Pearson back in 1964 where Moss was still a 14-year-old Beatles fan. Back on that historic date, the couple prepared for the band’s arrival and kept it a secret even to Gail and her eight-year-old sister Kim until the last minute. Freddie coaxed manager Brian Epstein to bring the group over after their performance at Gaumont for a completely intimate stay.
Moss shared: “Obviously, every teenager in West Yorkshire was excited that The Beatles were playing their opening concert in Bradford and you can imagine how I felt when my father told me they were actually coming to stay with us. It was a hard secret to keep. I did tell one close friend who I trusted, Alison Butterworth, she is still a good friend today but I’m not sure that my other school friends have ever forgiven me!”
“At around 11pm The Beatles arrived after what my father described as a ‘hairy drive’. He travelled from the concert with them to give directions, they skirted the crowds and passed at speed through police roadblocks. My mother had been desperately worried that the gardens would be trampled by thousands of screaming fans but, in the end, thanks to a police diversion, their destination remained a secret.”
She continued: “Holdsworth House wasn’t a hotel at the time, so my family had to vacate our bedrooms for The Beatles to sleep in. They chatted to guests in the bar when they arrived, then had dinner in a private room upstairs. We still have a signed copy of the menu and their original bills which show a rather rich selection of trout, turtle soup, cold duckling and steak tartare. The bar bill came to £2 15s.
Paul, George, Ringo and Brian Epstein drank in the Long Bar until the early hours along with John who, despite his toothache, was still the life and soul of the party, told endless jokes and did a brilliant imitation of a pompous Yorkshire mill owner – he was a great mimic.”
“They all slept in the old house: John and Ringo in what was mine and my sister’s room, now an office, Paul and George in the Ayrton Room. Brian Epstein was put up in the De Aldworth Room on a camp bed and they all shared one small, very traditional bathroom. Our room had rather pretty single iron bedsteads, which we still have in the hotel today. Guests love to think they are sleeping in the same beds as John and Ringo.
“I was up at 6am, terrified they might leave early and I’d miss them. But I needn’t have worried as they slept in and had breakfast in bed. Eventually, my mother took sympathy and knocked on their door saying, ‘My daughter’s been waiting all morning to see you so she’s coming in’. I was mortified but they were all really kind and chatty. Paul offered me a cigarette which I refused (I could probably have sold it later!) and asked me about a book in our room on Ibiza, as he’d never been to Spain. My sister Kim made friends with Ringo, who held her hand and let her look at all his rings. We gave them all a Cavalier Club tie and were thrilled to receive a copy of John’s book, In His Own Write, and a Christmas card. We still have them today, together with other memorabilia of their stay – all safely locked away!”
In modern times, the Holdsworth House is now a 36-bedroom luxury hotel on three acres of land. The manor goes as far back as 1633 and was a private house to wealthy families until 1962 when the Pearsons acquired it. It remains to be one of Yorkshire’s most famous small wedding venues and has appeared in TV dramas as well.
The Fab Four first appeared at the Gaumont a year earlier, in February 1963, where they were just part of a package show led by Helen Shapiro. The four-part band was still trying its way out of Liverpool fame. When the Beatles returned to the venue almost a year later, they had become a household staple everywhere.
Bradford DJ, singer, and concert promoter Garth Cawood met the band when he was the DJ at Gaumont, saying, “They were very nice, polite, friendly and funny.”