Will the real original Beatles’ hotel please step forward?

Peter Langstone owner of the Strawberry Fields hotel in Blackpool

It looks like there is a bit of scandal and finger poitning going on in the world of Beatle-themed tourist hot spots.   The hotly anticipated “A Hard Day’s Night Hotel” is claiming to be the first Beatles’ themed hotel, but there are some folks at the Strawberry Fields in Blackpool that disagree with that claim. 

Here’s my question…why can’t they both exist together.  I don’t really care who had the first one.  The world is just a better place with more Beatle-themed anything, regardless.   Hopefully they are able sort things out, and somehow coexist.

Liverpool’s soon-to-open Hard Day’s Night hotel won’t be the first Beatles-themed establishment to open, as Mike Chapple discovered on a trip to Blackpoolby Mike Chapple, Liverpool Daily Post

The Hard Days Night Hotel has already captured the imagination of Beatles fans worldwide.
“This is going to be a four star plus experience.” says Bill Heckle manager of the Cavern’s operators Cabern City Tours who conceived the idea for the HDN hotel over a decade ago. “People expecting the kiss me quick hat type of hotel are going to be surprised, this is going to be one at the very top end of the market.”

Which is all good news for Liverpool’s growing reputation for providing continental standard hotels capable of satisfying  the demands of the  average American and Japanese tourist whose appetite for the  Fab Four  is  insatiable.

But what’s wrong with  that kiss me quick hotel experience especially when it combines the Beatles and the quickie kiss capital of the world Blackpool all in one package? Add the extra ingredient of seventeen quid a night for bed and breakfast – astonishingly cheap even for the off season – it’s got to be worth checking out and  checking  in.

So say Hello Goodbye to the Strawberry Fields Hotel in Palatine Road, Blackpool.

Run by Pete Langstone and his partner Trisha Brown regular Daily Post readers will remember a recent story about their apparent irritation about Hard Days Night’s claim to being the first Beatles themed  hotel when their own had  been open for nearly three years.

But more of that later.

For now let’s take a peep into the  past and the traditional  intrinsic attraction that the two Pools have for each other especially when viewed in the context of how much the seaside town had a part to play in the Beatles’ career.

In the summer months between  1963 and summer 1965 the Beatles  played Blackpool a number of times with gigs split between the ABC theatre, the Queens Theatre and the Opera House.

Two of them were pivotal in their success.

On September 3 1963 four days after the release of She Loves You,  the band recorded Pop Goes The Beatles for BBC radio at Queens Theatre. Transmitted  a week later the show featured From Me To You, I’ll Get You, Money, There’s A Place, Honey Don’t and Roll Over Beethoven.

Two years later the  by then  four most famous men on the planet recorded a one-off live TV show for Blackpool Night Out series from the ABC. It featured  the nationwide unveiling of two of the most lauded of the Lennon and McCartney classics Yesterday and Help! both of which are recorded for posterity along with I’m Down, Act Naturally and Ticket To Ride on the Beatles Anthology DVD.

Such facts are music to the ears of a Beatles fan whose earliest memories  are of happy family holidays with sunshine, donkey rides and trips to the funfair played out to a soundtrack of Beatles charttoppers.

Fast forward to the Blackpool of today and stepping off the train from Lime Street on a windswept rainy winter  afternoon these days of glory seem like a figment of some twisted imagination.

Having cruelly missed out  to Manchester in the super casino stakes and its  chance to become the Atlantic City of the north there appeared  to be a very tangible pall of gloom hanging over the town. On the famous Golden Mile the only sign of life, such as it was, came from the bingo caller at the Coral Island lounge droning out numbers to two grim faced old ladies.

But such melancholy  is part of the reality and  attraction of all out of season British seaside resorts. With this in mind the resolve was made to look on the brighter side of life.

Going walkabout  it was good to find  that although the Queens Theatre was demolished in 1974 both the ABC and the Opera House were still in place albeit  the former having   been transformed into the Syndicate  Superclub, a “bangin’ choons” dance emporium.

The girl at reception seemed blissfully unaware of the former ABC’s significance in the Beatles story – as to a certain extent were Pete and Trisha at  their hotel  which is mere five minutes walk away.

The purists might sniff but Strawberry Fields is everything you’d expect a Beatles themed hotel in good old Blackpool to be – a little in yer face  bold, a little brash mixed with that homely feel that only the North can provide.

As Trish opened the front Norwegian Wood was  booming out from the front dining room which  was  festooned with Beatles iconography including a framed poster for the ABC gig of July 7 1963 when the Beatles topped the bill supported by the Brook Brothers and Carry On’s Mr Twitcher, Jack Douglas.

Since opening the couple have spent thousands transforming what was formerly called (don’t laugh)  the Southern Hemisphere Experience. And although they may not have had the millions at the dipsoable of Hard Days Night they have spent their own version of a relative fortune repairing the 10 bedroom hotel and buying up Beatles relics on e-bay.

Their piece de resistance is the cellar which they’ve turned into their very own version of the Cavern Club complete with stage  and well stocked bar.

It’s a work they’re extremely proud of – a factor which led to their public protest about the Hard Days Night’s aformentioned claim.

“We were just a bit miffed they were claiming that they had the first Beatles themed hotel when we were there before them,” said 52-year-old Rugby-born Pete, a former lorry driver and pub landlord. “The thing is we never claimed to be the first anyway because we knew someone somehwere else would have the same idea although as far as I know this is  the only one in Blackpool.”

He and Bradford-born Trish have a typically pragmatic Northern way of looking at their project.

“People are not going to bypass to Liverpool to get to me,” explained Pete while Trish chipped in “We love the Beatles but don’t get me wrong, we’re not trainspotters about it.”

Unlike me. However they did resolve to do a bit more swotting up about the Beatles and their profound Blackpool connection.

And they extended an invitation to Bill  Heckle and his wife to have free bed and breakfast at Strawberry Fields to show there was no hard feelings.

Back in Liverpool, the Cavern City Tours supremo politely declined the offer.

“It’s very nice of them, though” he said. “Mind you if it was in  San Diego  ……”

Source: icLiverpool


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