Beatles History Blog

Beatles Fans: We need your help to Save Ringo Starr’s Birthplace and the Welsh Streets

I have been involved for the last few years in a campaign to save the birthplace of Ringo Starr at 9, Madryn Street in the Dingle. The campaign also includes all of the “Welsh” Streets that include Madryn Street, the area where I grew up.
We need to raise £40,000 to fund the public enquiry, for which I have given written evidence and may be asked to appear before the enquiry.
There are lots of incentives for anyone who contributes to the fund, including copies of my two books, “Liddypool” and “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” and many more.
Please join us and preserve the Dingle! Read the Press Release below for more details.
David Bedford
Save launches crowd funding initiative to raise funds for a public inquiry into the Welsh Streets, Liverpool

9 Madryn Street
9 Madryn Street

On June 17th a public inquiry begins in Liverpool into planning application to demolish over 400 Victorian terraced houses in Toxteth, L8, including most of Madryn Street, where Ringo Starr was born.
The streets are to be replaced with drastically fewer semi-detached and detached houses with gardens, dropping the density by some 45% percent despite the proximity of the area to the city centre. Only forty houses are to be refurbished.
SAVE has been campaigning to save the Welsh Streets for over 10 years. In 2011 SAVE bought a property there – 21 Madryn Street, the former home of Ringo Starr’s aunt. SAVE bought the house to show that with minimal investment it is possible to make these terraces into comfortable homes. A young couple has been happily living there ever since.
The grounds for the public inquiry include whether it fails in terms of national housing and planning policy, issues of design, sustainability and architectural significance.
SAVE has made several significant discoveries in the course of gathering its evidence for the inquiry.
One of the chief among these is that the Welsh Streets were laid out and built by prominent Welsh architect Richard Owens, who master-planned large areas of Liverpool in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Owens was the embodiment of the strong Welsh element that contributed to the history and construction of Liverpool at its great moment of expansion in the late 19th century. The Welsh Streets are named after Welsh landmarks, the houses were built and partly inhabited by Welsh builders, and the area was a Welsh community for many years.
This evidence has been uncovered for the first time by one of our witnesses, Gareth Carr, who completed a PhD about Richard Owens at the Liverpool University architecture faculty this year.
Another aspect of SAVE’s evidence is how deeply connected the wider area is to Ringo Starr’s background, and not only the house where he was born. Starr was born at No.9 Madryn Street, and spent his first five years there; his grandparents lived at the other end of the street, his aunt lived at No.21, and his best friend at No.10. Following this he moved two streets away where he lived until he went to London after becoming an international mega star with the Beatles.
While an agreement between former Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson was made in 2012 to save 16 houses on Madryn Street, SAVE holds that it is important to keep the entire street in tact.
In addition, SAVE holds that it is viable to refurbish the houses, and presents a more sustainable approach. This position is supported by a recent survey of the site, undertaken jointly with Liverpool Council. Evidence from our surveyors and QS indicate that refurbishment will cost between £51,000 and £60,000 on the properties – with scope for this figure to drop if individuals take on refurbishment of their own homes, or if a developer refurbishes a groups of houses. Evidence from estate agent Paul Sutton indicates that the houses would sell for between £75,000 and £85,000.
SAVE needs to raise £40,000 to fight the inquiry, and has embarked on a crowd-funding initiative with Dig Ventures, a platform that has successfully raised money for several UK archaeological digs. Supporters of our campaign are eligible for a variety of benefits including tailored Beatles-themed or architectural tours of Liverpool, tickets to a party at The Empress pub that features on the front of Ringo’s solo album A Sentimental Journey, a tea towel that is being especially designed for the campaign, membership of SAVE and SAVE publications. The top prizes are tea at 21 Madryn Street which is at present being redesigned by Tilly and Wayne Hemingway of Hemingway Designs, and participation in a discussion about the future of No9 Madryn Street, held at 21 Madryn Street with members of the team.
Fighting public inquiries is an expensive business, and SAVE is a small independent charity that receives no public funding. Our experts are giving their time for free or at greatly reduced rates, investing some £200,000 of donated time to this fight for which we are hugely grateful. We still need to raise another £40,000 to cover legal fees, the cost of a survey of a number of houses on the site, towards the redecoration of the house, and other expenses.
SAVE Director Clem Cecil says: “This is the first crowdfunding campaign of its kind in the UK, and we are really looking forward to involving everyone who supports us in the fight to save this neighbourhood. We’re offering great campaign benefits, and raising awareness about what is happening here among Beatles fans, and those interested in Welsh-Liverpool history. This is a way for them to get actively involved.”
SAVE’s vision for Madryn Street


Notes to editors:
SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architects, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.
SAVE Britain’s Heritage, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ
Registered Charity 269129
Tel. 020 7253 3500 Email
Follow SAVE on Twitter: @SAVEBrit

On the anniversary of Sgt Pepper, how many of the Fab104 can you spot?

When I was writing my book, and the number kept rising, I considered doing a tribute to Sgt. Pepper with as many of the Fab one hundred and Four I could find. In the end we decided not to proceed with it, but see how many you can recognise?
If you want to know more about the 104 people involved in the story of the Beatles, you can order “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles, 1956-1962” from
Have fun!

Fab 104 and Sgt Pepper
How many of the Fab 104 can you spot in the Sgt. Pepper

When The Beatles were The Silver Beats and had a drummer called Cliff!

On 14th May 1960, The Silver Beats – as they called themselves for this one occasion – the boys headed up to the north of Liverpool to appear at Lathom Hall. They arrived there with their current lineup – John, Paul, George, Stuart and Tommy Moore.
Tommy forgot his drums and so Cliff Roberts sat in! Find the story in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” by David Bedford
#TheBeatles #art and entertainment: Music

When The Beatles were only the Silver Beats – with a drummer called Cliff!

Cliff Roberts, who sat in with the Silver Beats
Cliff Roberts, who sat in with the Silver Beats

On 14th May 1960, The Silver Beats – as they called themselves for this one occasion – the boys headed up to the north of Liverpool to appear at Lathom Hall. They arrived there with their current lineup – John, Paul, George, Stuart and Tommy Moore. For some reason, Tommy didn’t bring his drums!! So, he asked a fellow drummer, Cliff Roberts from Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes, if he could use his drums. He declined!
So, drummerless, the lads approached Cliff Roberts and asked him to sit in with them that night, which he duly did. That night, they were:
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Cliff Roberts: The Silver Beats.
Roberts recalled The Silver Beats’ appearance that first night: “They were a scruffy bunch whose drummer hadn’t brought his kit and asked if he could borrow mine. I had a brand new Olympic kit that I hadn’t even used on stage myself, so I naturally refused.” They performed six numbers together, as Roberts recalled, “four rock ‘n’ roll standards that all the
groups played, and two originals that they had to teach me.”
Cliff Roberts is therefore a member of the “Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles”
Find out more at
David Bedford

Meet Steve Calrow, Lead singer of The Beatles!

ImageYes, Steve Calrow sang with The Beatles in the spring of 1961. Bob Wooler had begun to introduce The Beatles at The Cavern Club. They had made their lunchtime debut on 9 February 1961 and their first evening performance was on 21 March 1961. Between these two dates, and before Stuart returned to Hamburg on 15 March 1961, Steve Calrow, a local performer who Wooler had seen at Holyoake Hall, made a brief appearance at The Cavern with The Beatles.

Along with John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete, Steve was called into action to help out with the singing as The Beatles could hardly talk, let alone sing, after a grueling 14 days performing.  “I knew Paul and George more than I knew John but we all lived around the same area, which is why I think they worked so well together because they knew each other well.”

Find out more in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles” at 

John Lennon Nerk and Paul McCartney Nerk

On this day in 1960, 23rd April, John and Paul took a trip to a pub, The Fox and Hounds, in Caversham in Berkshire, England to stay with Paul’s cousin Bett Robbins and her husband Mike who ran the pub. The couple had both worked as Butlin’s Redcoats before taking on the pub and the teenage Lennon and McCartney were keen to get their advice.
Yes, John and Paul performed as “The Nerk Twins”! They sang songs like the Les Paul and Mary Ford hit, “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise”, as well as “Be-Bop-A-Lula”.
Read more at my blog –

The Fab104 is an “essential read”

David Bedford’s latest Beatles book, “The Fab One Hundred and Four,” is a delightful
and essential read. Just when you thought everything’s been said about the Beatles,
and there wasn’t much left to learn about the history of the group, David delivers
the goods by exploring a whole new angle — looking at all the people, some known and
some hardly known, that played a key role in the evolution of the group right up
to the point where they were John, Paul, George, & Ringo, on the brink of super-stardom.
Ken Michaels, “Every Little Thing” Beatles radio show

Researching The Beatles by David Bedford

So, what does it take to research The Beatles? How do we Beatles authors and historians find the information?
Sometimes, just finding out a date can take weeks. In “The Fab one hundred and Four”, I was determined to find out when the first colour photograph of The Quarrymen was taken (see below). Sounds easy, but it was anything but! In the photograph, leaning against the wall with a half pint of Guinness is Dennis Littler, a good friend of Paul McCartney’s cousin Ian Harris. I tracked Dennis down, to find out what I could. Dennis sometimes let John, Paul or George borrow his guitar,  an Antoria Cello acoustic, which was more expensive than their guitars!
This is what Dennis remembered (taken from “The Fab one hundred and Four”):
Paul, George and John would often come to my house and play on my guitar, because it was a lot more expensive than the guitars they had, and obviously was a much better guitar too. I never performed with The Quarrymen, but rehearsed with them. I remember Paul coming to me one day and saying that he had worked out how to play ‘Butter y’ by Charlie Gracie and he played it perfectly. He had that knack of being able to pick a song up so quickly and it was
obvious how good he was. He could pick up songs like ‘Long Tall Sally’ by ear, and sing like Little Richard too because he had such a great voice. 
“When Ian got married, John, Paul and George were asked to provide some music, which is when the photo was taken by Mike McCartney, the first colour photograph featuring The Beatles. I am seen next to the wall with my glass of Guinness. I don’t remember much about the day I’m afraid.
So, the information that I had was that the photo was taken at the wedding of Ian Harris and Jacqueline Gavin. So all I needed to find was the day that Ian and Jacqueline got married. After searching databases and records, no such wedding took place between an Ian Harris and Jacqueline Harris between 1957 and 1959, and we know the wedding took place sometime in 1958. Where to go next?
As Ian Harris was a member of the McCartney family, they never use their first names. James Paul McCartney and Peter Michael McCartney for example. Ian’s dad was Harry, and as Paul had his father’s name, a search for Harry Ian Harris proved successful! In fact, Jacqueline didn’t use her first name either! She was Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin. Families eh? I then obtained a copy of the marriage certificate to provide the information I needed.
And so, as per the marriage certificate, Harry Ian Harris married Cecilia Jacqueline Gavin on 8th March 1958, the date the first colour photograph of The Quarrymen was taken, by Peter Michael McCartney!
So, for the purposes of the book, all you need to know is that the photo was taken on 8th March 1958. What you don’t see is the research behind finding that date. Believe me, that is the thrill of the historian/ researcher!
Read the full story behind the photograph in “The Fab one hundred and Four: The Evolution of The Beatles from The Quarrymen to the Fab Four”
David Bedford

The first colour photo of The Quarrymen, with Dennis Littler
The first colour photo of The Quarrymen, with Dennis Littler