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The day I met The Beatles - Romford woman’s amazing story

15:00 28 March 2013

The Beatles in June 1963

The Beatles in June 1963

PA Wire/Press Association Images

She may be a sensible grandmother-of-nine now, but 50 years ago last week, Val Taylor, 64, along with pal Pip Smith, 63, were star-seeking schoolgirls who had heard about a concert at Romford’s ABC Cinema.

Pip, left, and best friend Val met the Beatles just before they were famous.Pip, left, and best friend Val met the Beatles just before they were famous.

The gig was after school on Wednesday, March 20, 1963, and the friends, along with another two teens they had just met, casually boarded the entertainers’ bus, in South Street. They got three autographs from a band of four - John, Paul and Ringo - but the names meant nothing to them. Just three months later the group, known as The Beatles, returned to play the Odeon Cinema, in Romford. Here Val, from Mawney Road, Romford, recalls the events, and the day she helped Paul McCartney carry his bags to the backstage door.

“My friend, Pip, and I were 14 years-old at the time and attended Chase Cross Girls’ School (now Bower Park). We decided to catch a bus into Romford after school and wait outside the ABC Cinema to try and get a glimpse of some of the “stars” and maybe some autographs. We werent allowed to go to the show, however, as our parents thought we were too young!

Val during the Swinging SixtiesVal during the Swinging Sixties

“We duly waited outside the ABC cinema, with two other girls who I think were from Petits Lane School (now Marshalls Park). Eventually, a coach pulled up and all the performing artists were on it (not that we knew who any of them were!). The four of us girls were allowed to get on the coach and we went up and down, asking for autographs. There was no hysteria, no screaming, and none of us really knew who was who.

“For this reason, I ended up with two autographs from Paul McCartney, along with John Lennon and Ringo Starr. I missed George somehow or I would have had the whole set! I still have the autographs in my autograph book, which I treasure.

“Pip and I helped Paul carry his bags off the coach and up to the stage door. We asked him if we could come in and he said he didn’t think the doorman would allow it!

Girls went crazy for the original boybandGirls went crazy for the original boyband

“The next time The Beatles came to Romford was a totally different matter. I queued outside the Odeon from 5.30am for tickets and a photo of us was featured in the Recorder I believe. I was wearing a black and white check “jockeys cap” (cringe!) We had front row seats and I remember Ringo nodding and smiling at us, which of course, sent us into fits of screaming!

“In those days, there were numerous tours featuring all the pop groups performing at the same gig. I think we saw just about everyone who was popular in the 60s ranging from The Stones, Johnny Kid & The Pirates, The Hollies, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas and of course, The Beatles.

“Pip and I both still live in Romford and meet up regularly. We clearly remember that afternoon after school when we met the Beatles and I think we both secretly were annoyed we were in our school uniforms!”

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