This building has had a chequered history and was recently a nightclub called Bliss, but is actually empty at the moment and is somewhat derelict.
Birkdale ATC Club/The High Park Labour Club.
These are very small venues where the Beatles appeared early in 1961. The Labour Club was situated in Devonshire Road, High Park.
The Great Wall Restaurant.
A Chinese restaurant in Lord Street that went out of business many years ago. Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, with Ringo Starr on drums, played a series of Sunday afternoon session there in late 1961. This was during the period when Ringo always used to introduce ‘Ringo Starrtime’ and still had his beard and looked a bit of a scruff!
The Floral Hall.
A large Southport venue situated on the Promenade. The Beatles first appeared here on 20 February 1962 on a bill advertised as a ‘Rock ‘n’ Trad Spectacular.’ Other artists on the bill were Gerry & the Pacemakers, Rory Storm & the Hurricanes and the Chris Hamilton Jazzmen. Their second appearance took place on 20 November 1962 when they appeared on two separate performances. Their third appearance at the venue was on 24 April 1963 and their final appearance took place on 15 October 1963.
All these events were a long time ago and my life followed a path in the Tourism business, but also in local politics as a Councillor on both the old Southport County Borough Council and, since 1974, Sefton Metropolitan District Council, here on Merseyside.
I have held all the major positions such as Leader of the Council but have also taken a keen interest in Local Government at a national level.
I am currently the Vice Chairman of the Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority, the Deputy Chair of the Local Government Association Regeneration Executive and a Member of the UK Delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions which is the European body which deals with Local Government matters.
I never dreamed way back in 1961/62 that I would receive a Knighthood for services to Local Government and I remember Paul McCartney ‘cadging’ a cheese roll and a coke at one of the lunchtime Cavern sessions – how things change!
Editor’s Note: Virginia and I attended a number of the Beatles gigs in Southport. The most memorable was the one which took place at the Floral Pavilion on Tuesday 15 October 1963, a few days after their sensational appearance at the London Palladium and the day after the Daily Mirror had coined the
We had gone along with our photographer Les Chadwick and found the backstage area crammed with pressmen and photographers. It seemed as
if the entire British national press were there. Derek Taylor had been out explaining to them that the Beatles weren’t available at that moment and he spotted us. He came over and led us through the media throng into the dressing room and we were aware of all these representatives of the great national newspapers staring at us and asking among themselves who we were.
In the dressing room we relaxed to chat as they liked me to bring them up to date with what was happening with all their friends and the other groups; and Les began to take photographs. Then Paul took his camera off him and also began to take shots, which we published in Mersey Beat.
Unfortunately, over the years I have lost or left behind the majority of Mersey Beat photographs and have to use images directly from my copies of Mersey Beat, so these particular images aren’t of a decent quality.
Initially, Mersey Beat was printed in a compact format by James E. James. Then the Widnes Weekly News became our printer in a larger format. However, they printed on cheap paper stock and the ink from other pages generally came through to ruin the images. The printing, I must admit, was pretty awful. Improvements came when we turned to colour and web offset with Marsh Lane Printers.