THE day Beatlemania came to Bournemouth was remembered at a party on Saturday celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first gig in the town.

Guests at the Beacon Hotel on the West Cliff admired an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia commemorating the Fab Four’s connection with Bournemouth, some sitting in the old folding chairs from the Winter Gardens, where they performed.

Mayor Rod Cooper opened the event, and also marked the official launch of the hotel’s new Rock Café restaurant, which boasts a huge collection of memorabilia from various rock legends, as well as music-themed gourmet burgers.

Writer of the book ‘Yeah, Yeah Yeah: The Beatles and Bournemouth’ Nick Churchill said the 1963 Winter Gardens gig may have helped kick-start Beatlemania in the US prior to the band’s famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

“Most people think that was their first appearance on American TV, but in fact there were camera crews from ABC and CBS at the Bournemouth gig, even though they were relatively unknown over there at the time,” said Nick.

“That day the Cherries were playing at home in an FA Cup game, there was an RAC rally and the Father Christmas parade, it was bedlam.

“There were people queuing up for Beatles tickets in the gardens and getting relatives to bring them food parcels while they waited.

“They played in the town quite a few times, and in fact the photograph on the cover of their second album was taken at the Palace Court Hotel.”

Dave Robinson, who owns the Beacon Hotel, just yards from the former Winter Gardens site, said: “From the 1950s to the present day the Beatles have had such an important influence on music. I think this collection is quite unique, with its specific link to the town.

“For such a small town, Bournemouth has hosted many great acts over the years, including Hendrix, Queen, Bowie, Blondie and the first performance of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.”