So, when exactly did The Beatles’ John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison first appear on film? Apparently in 1958.
The Beatles didn’t exist in 1958, though a local historian believes John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and his brother, Mike, appear in a vintage police recruitment film. Peter Hodgson, also a Fab Four fan, says that the grainy figures in the Liverpool City Police video show all three, along with George Harrison.
Speaking with The Echo, Hodgson said,
“The film is called Service. The version I found that had been posted on YouTube is dated 1950 but after doing a bit of digging I discovered it was actually made in 1958. The McCartneys’ then home, in Forthlin Road, backed onto the police training centre – and the centre’s annual summer show is featured on the film.
“You can see four or five people in the distance watching the action from on top of the concrete shed in the back garden of 20 Forthlin Road, where Paul and Mike lived.”
Paul McCartney may have confirmed the assemblage of The Beatles — or what would become The Beatles — in 1958. In Paul McCartney’s biography, Barry Miles write,
“The back of the house overlooked the grounds of the Police Training College, headquarters of the Liverpool Mounted Police. Paul and his brother would watch them training horses, knocking pegs out of the ground with lances just as they had done in the British Raj.”
Paul also told Miles,
“We used to sit on the concrete shed in the back yard and watch the Police Show every year for free.”
So, are the grainy figures in the distance truly The Beatles? Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike, spoke with The Echo after viewing the video. He said,
“Wow! That could definitely be us. It was a really big occasion in Liverpool and that’s what we used to do every summer – take deckchairs and climb onto the concrete shed and watch a free show. And I think there is every chance John would have been there that year – absolutely. His friend, Pete Shotton, was a police cadet. And George could easily have been there, too. It’s bloody mad – absolutely fascinating and unbelievable!”
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison formed part of The Quarrymen at the time. On July 12th, 1958, The Quarrymen recorded two songs at Philips Sound Recording Services. The place was a home studio owned and run by Percy F. Philips, located at 38 Kensington, Liverpool.
The two songs marked Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon’s first recording session together. The Quarrymen eventually evolved into The Beatles.
Speaking about his passion of watching old films about Liverpool on YouTube, Hodgson said,
“I love watching old films about Liverpool on You Tube and I made the connection with Forthlin Road when I saw the Mather Avenue police show footage. Then I worked out which house was the McCartneys’ and thought ‘Bingo!’ I nearly fell off my chair when I saw it [and] consulted two local experts, Blue Badge tour guide Jackie Spencer and historian Mark Ashworth – and then I found the information on a Merseyside Police website which confirmed it was 1958.”
“I have also been in touch with author Mark Lewisohn, regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on the Beatles, and he emailed back to say ‘What a find!’”
Peter Hodgson remains confident the figures indeed show the members of The Beatles in 1958.
“We may not be able to make out the figures on that shed, but I am certain that Paul and Mike were up there – most likely with John and George.
“And how ironic that the very last scene in the film shows a policeman on the exact spot at the Pier Head where the Beatles’ statues are today.”
The complete Liverpool City Police recruitment film lasts just over 41 minutes. The Beatles appear at 34:33 far off in the background.
You can watch the video below and judge for yourself.