ON John Lennon’s 24th birthday, October 9, 1964, The Beatles played at the Gaumont in Bradford - the opening night of their UK tour - and fans sang Happy Birthday.

Today, on what would have been Lennon’s 80th birthday, we look back at the time the Beatles stayed at a historic manor house on the night of their Bradford show.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Beatles getting into their car the day after their stay

Today Holdsworth House Hotel, on the outskirts of Halifax, is owned by Gail Moss, who was a 14-year-old Beatles fan back in 1964 when her parents, Freddie and Rita Pearson, owned the historic property.

Freddie and Rita were preparing for the Fab Four’s arrival at what was then a country club. It was complete secrecy - even their teenage daughter, Gail, and her eight-year-old sister Kim, weren’t told until the last minute...

The Pearsons opened Holdsworth House as a private members club, The Cavalier, in 1963. Through his many connections, Freddie persuaded Beatles manager Brian Epstein to bring the group to stay over after appearing at the Gaumont. They were looking for somewhere they could be sure of a warm welcome and, more importantly, complete privacy.

It was Friday, October 9 1964, the first night of their UK tour and John Lennon’s 24th birthday. Gail Moss recalls: “Obviously, every teenager in West Yorkshire was excited that The Beatles were playing their opening concert in Bradford and you can imagine how I felt when my father told me they were actually coming to stay with us. It was a hard secret to keep. I did tell one close friend who I trusted, Alison Butterworth, she is still a good friend today but I’m not sure that my other school friends have ever forgiven me!

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Gail Moss, who was a teenage fan when The Beatles stayed over. Picture: David Loftus

“At around 11pm The Beatles arrived after what my father described as a ‘hairy drive’. He travelled from the concert with them to give directions, they skirted the crowds and passed at speed through police roadblocks. My mother had been desperately worried that the gardens would be trampled by thousands of screaming fans but, in the end, thanks to a police diversion, their destination remained a secret.

“Holdsworth House wasn’t a hotel at the time, so my family had to vacate our bedrooms for The Beatles to sleep in. They chatted to guests in the bar when they arrived, then had dinner in a private room upstairs. We still have a signed copy of the menu and their original bills which show a rather rich selection of trout, turtle soup, cold duckling and steak tartare. The bar bill came to £2 15s.

“Paul, George, Ringo and Brian Epstein drank in the Long Bar until the early hours along with John who, despite his toothache, was still the life and soul of the party, told endless jokes and did a brilliant imitation of a pompous Yorkshire mill owner - he was a great mimic.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Beatles' dinner bill. Note the French maitre 'd's spelling of 'Beetles'

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Holdsworth Hall pictured in the 1960s

Adds Gail: “They all slept in the old house: John and Ringo in what was mine and my sister’s room, now an office, Paul and George in the Ayrton Room. Brian Epstein was put up in the De Aldworth Room on a camp bed and they all shared one small, very traditional bathroom. Our room had rather pretty single iron bedsteads, which we still have in the hotel today. Guests love to think they are sleeping in the same beds as John and Ringo.

“I was up at 6am, terrified they might leave early and I’d miss them. But I needn’t have worried as they slept in and had breakfast in bed. Eventually, my mother took sympathy and knocked on their door saying, ‘My daughter’s been waiting all morning to see you so she’s coming in’. I was mortified but they were all really kind and chatty. Paul offered me a cigarette which I refused (I could probably have sold it later!) and asked me about a book in our room on Ibiza, as he’d never been to Spain. My sister Kim made friends with Ringo, who held her hand and let her look at all his rings. We gave them all a Cavalier Club tie and were thrilled to receive a copy of John’s book, In His Own Write, and a Christmas card. We still have them today, together with other memorabilia of their stay - all safely locked away!”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Gail's sister Kim on Paul McCartney's knee

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A card to the family signed by the Fab Four

Today, Holdsworth House is a luxury 36-bedroom hotel set in three acres of grounds. The manor dates from 1633 and was a private house to families of wealth and distinction until 1962 when it was bought by the Pearson family. Since then it has remained an independent hotel and restaurant still run by the Pearsons and is one of Yorkshire’s most popular small wedding venues. It has appeared in hit TV dramas Last Tango in Halifax and Ackley Bridge.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: How Holdsworth House looks today

The Beatles’ first appearance at the Gaumont was the previous year, in February 1963, when they were bottom of the bill in a touring package show. Top of the bill was Helen Shapiro. John, Paul, George and Ringo were, at that time, just a rumour spreading out from Liverpool’s Cavern club.

In those days, groups were bussed round the country’s cinemas and ballrooms for twice-nightly shows. Each group had a 15 or 20-minute slot, depending where they were on the bill. There were seven acts on the bill that cold winter day, February 2, 1963, when The Beatles sang Chains, A Taste Of Honey, Keep Your Hands Off My Baby and, reportedly, Please, Please Me.

When The Beatles returned to the Gaumont 11 months later, on December 21, they were on their way to pop super-stardom. They were previewing their own Christmas show, which went on to run in London.

The Beatles’ third and final concert at the Gaumont was October 9, 1964. T&A entertainment correspondent Peter Holdsworth met the band at the venue, and reported that John Lennon nicked his cap and larked about.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: T&A critic Peter Holdsworth with John and Ringo at the Gaumont in October 1964

Garth Cawood, a well known Bradford DJ, singer and concert promoter in the 1960s, met the Beatles when he was DJ at the Gaumont. “They were very nice, polite, friendly and funny,” he says.

By the time The Beatles played their final Gaumont gig, on John Lennon’s 24th birthday, they had conquered America. At the Bradford venue, which later became the Odeon, it was reported that 60 policemen guarded the stage area, and there were several St John Ambulance officers and nurses on hand to deal with fainting fans. Outside, the crowds were controlled by mounted police.

For the thousands of youngsters who queued round the Gaumont in the biting cold, some overnight, for a ticket, it was a night to remember.