IT came out of the blue – a visit to Bournemouth from four of pop’s biggest superstars who were also very big tippers.

Abba fans noted that yesterday was the anniversary of the only known occasion that the group visited Bournemouth.

And Daily Echo photographic technician Michelle Luther tracked down the negatives for these pictures of the group's arrival, some of them never before published.

The band flew in from Stockholm on a private jet to Hurn Airport, en route to a party at the end of CBS Records’ conference at the Carlton Hotel in 1981.

And when they left the next day, they left the biggest tip the hotel manager had ever seen – £500 (around £2,000 in today's money) and 150 copies of their greatest hits.

The Daily Echo, tipped off to their imminent arrival, met the band at the airport.

Agnetha Faltskog said it was unlikely the group would tour Britain, but said: “I love your country.”

Band members Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad had divorced that year, two years after Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus did the same.

Andersson told the Echo: “We find that we are working better together now that there is no pressure of marriage.”

The group didn’t perform at the Carlton, but joined around 300 delegates at a party, with the Nolans also among the guests.

They left the following morning, leaving that whopping tip behind them.

The hotel’s executive director, John Furlong, said: “I have been in the hotel business for a long time, and I have never known anyone to be so generous as this. They can come back any time.”