The collection includes a photo of Patricia with The Big Three, a Merseybeat band with a close connection to The Beatles, plus Parlophone Records postcards of The Beatles, an autographed Decca postcard of The Bachelors and a Nottingham Theatre Royal leaflet promoting the band as a headline act. There is also a Stanley Matthews postcard promoting CWS football boots at the Co-op and a piece of commemorative embroidery marking Nottingham Co-operative’s centenary 1863 to 1963.
Eight months after the Nottingham gig, on November 17 1963, The Beatles played The Coventry Theatre a year to the day since their first live show in the city. They had also played at the theatre in February 1963 but now Beatlemania was in full swing.
Fourteen-year-old Gwen Danks and her friends would frequent the stage doors on Sunday afternoons to get autographs. “We couldn't usually afford to see the show, it was just something to do on Sundays when you were old enough to catch the bus with your mates,” said Gwen, now 74, whose married name is Payne. “That day I was actually hoping to see Helen Shapiro perform. She was only two years older than us so she was an icon to us. We were waiting outside the theatre when a coach pulled up to bring the stars in. George Harrison was in a car. Seeing The Beatles in person was brilliant. They were all standing around and talking. They were quite agreeable and very happy to talk to us.”
As luck would have it, Gwen had appropriated her brother Graham’s camera and managed to take black and white photographs of Paul McCartney and George Harrison. “It was one of those cheap plastic cameras,” she remembered. "I pinched it for the afternoon and I was trying not to use up all the film!”
Gwen also obtained the autographs of all four Beatles, later sticking in her ticket stub for the concert on the page next to Ringo Starr’s signature. The opposite page features George Harrison and John Lennon with Paul McCartney's signature is on the reverse. “It was only later I noticed my mistake in that when you handed the autograph book to them it was the right way around – but that meant that when they signed it, the autographs were upside down in the book!” Gwen said. “From what I remember, the concert was great but having such brilliant souvenirs was the icing on the cake.”
The Beatles’ signatures feature in a Woburn Abbey autograph book, which also includes the 13th Duke of Bedford and his wife who signed when the album was purchased. Other pages are packed with signatures of more stars who visited The Coventry Theatre including The Springfields – featuring the legendary Dusty – plus Helen Shapiro, The Kinks, Cliff Richard, Cilla Black, Kenny Lynch, Joe Brown, Brenda Lee and Del Shannon. Another autograph book of Gwen’s includes Gene Pitney, Peter and Gordon, Tommy Quickly, The Honeycombs, Dave Berry, The Cruisers, Cilla Black, The Zombies, The Applejacks and A Band Of Angels.