Rag Days, Beatles & the Tower

By Glen Vollmecke (nee Swann)  

Glen, aged 15, at her brother’s weddingAt the age of fifteen I won a two year scholarship to the Wallasey School of Art and Crafts, a magnificent old building in Central Park which is now an office complex

At first I stubbornly resisted association with the art students, due mainly to their wild reputations and my own innate shyness. Eventually, I began what proved to be some of the most memorable years of my young life.

A friend from art school raced alongside me one morning yelling excitedly that she had a date with Paul McCartney, one of the Beatles playing at the Tower Ballroom, I wasn’t impressed. 

The Tower building was perched on a hill surrounded by fairground exhibits, and resembling a huge medieval castle. It had originally stood 544 feet high and was built in 1896. It resembled the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and peered bleakly over the River Mersey, and was adjacent to the Liver Buildings on the other side, which was in Liverpool, a few miles away from my home town of Wallasey. 

My art school’s annual ‘Rag Day’, called Panto Day, involved Liverpool University, engineering colleges, and art schools from within a fifty mile radius. John Lennon studied at our ‘sister school’, Liverpool College of Art in Hope Street and was an eager costumed participant. 

There was a parade of over forty floats, which resembled a Halloween holocaust, providing wild, un-subdued entertainment for all who watched. 

One wild evening as floats coasted inch by inch down the main street in all their coloured splendor, a ‘gang’ from John’s college ‘captured’ me. I was thrown onto over-stuffed pillows in the Egyptian float, until I snatched a huge oar from their display and started swinging; needless to say I was released amid profuse apologies! 

Surrounding the hysteria of the moment, my focus of fascination was the sight of John’s friends in their soccer outfits, while at the same time wearing ballerina tutus. 

I’m almost positive he was one of them.

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