Croydon teenager's 50-year-old Beatles pictures unearthed

First published in Where I Live This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant Editor

Never before seen photographs of the world’s most famous band have been discovered lying in an attic.

Photographer Andy Wright was just a 15-year-old Woodcote Secondary School pupil when his father, a steward at The Fairfield Halls, got him back stage access to see The Beatles almost 50 years ago.

The experience inspired a career in photography for Mr Wright, who now lives in Hertfordshire, but the photographs sat gathering dust until a chance meeting last month.

He said: “I met up with an old friend and he said he worked with the Fairfield Halls.

"I said I took photographs of the Beatles there, and he couldn’t believe it and told me about their anniversary archive.

"You know how it is, you just have boxes of rubbish in the attic so I was delighted I still had them.”

The Fab Four performed just six months after the venue opened 50 years ago.

The appearance, on April 25, 1963, was barely a month after the release of their first album, Please Please Me, and comprised two performances as part of 'The Mersey Beat Showcase' mini-tour featuring acts from Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein’s stable.

Also featured were Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Big Three, Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas.

Mr Wright, who lived in Coulsdon, said: “I was allowed to wait backstage. They had just come off so they were probably a bit shattered. We turned over a couple of theatre seats and took a couple of quick photographs.

“I think they just wanted to get to the dressing room. If you think about it now you’d have an army of security guards with earpieces. Completely different.”

Now working as a freelance photographer, Mr Wright has agreed to give the theatre permission to use the pictures on its new website www.fairfieldat50.com, free of charge.

The website celebrates the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Fairfields, and includes images of performers, programmes and promotional posters.

He said: “I only had 12 pictures on my roll of film. Film was expensive back then. The picture of all four of them backstage, potentially the most financially lucrative, was taken with the last shot I had.

"I still have the Rollei camera I took pictures with.”

Comments (1)

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10:35pm Tue 12 Jun 12

Oudinot says...

A couple of years ago I saw the Fairfield halls advertising the following...(I forget the EXACT dates, but the names and the banner were genuine)
MONDAY 25TH Archbishop Desmond Tutu...Wednesday 27TH Keith Harris and Orville.
Like most Croydonians I have very distinct memories of the Fairfield Halls.
Its decline mirrors that of our town.
A couple of years ago I saw the Fairfield halls advertising the following...(I forget the EXACT dates, but the names and the banner were genuine) MONDAY 25TH Archbishop Desmond Tutu...Wednesday 27TH Keith Harris and Orville. Like most Croydonians I have very distinct memories of the Fairfield Halls. Its decline mirrors that of our town. Oudinot
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