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Beatles - In Romford

  by Julie Cruickshank

published: 26 / 11 / 2022

Beatles - In Romford

Growing up in the 1960s, the Beatles made a very early impact upon me. My parents, great music lovers, listened to the radio for a large part of the day. The Beatles’ songs dominated the airwaves, and I have memories of ‘Hey Jude’ playing as I got ready for school, not wanting to leave until the seemingly endless “na-na-na-nananas” had faded out. I remember in particular the sound of the drums, crashing through our tiny tinny transistor; even then I appreciated the thrilling swing and verve of Ringo Starr’s drumming. And it is Ringo who has a small connection with my home town, Romford in Essex, north-east of London. Ringo’s stepfather, Harry Graves, came from Romford. Growing up in a small street of neat Victorian houses, just around the corner from Romford station and town centre, I had no idea about this link with the famous Beatle. It was only some years after leaving home that I discovered that our neighbours had often talked of Ringo Starr’s step-grandmother living in….our street! So the mystery began. Ringo’s step-grandmother must surely have been Harry Graves’ mother. So were the rumours valid, did she really live there? Did Harry Graves grow up there? I found all of this out when it was all too late; the old residents had passed away, or moved away. But surely, if it was so known and discussed amongst the neighbours, it must have been true. The Beatles played Romford twice in 1963, and I wondered: did they use these opportunities to visit Ringo’s step-grandmother? Did they pop round for a cup of tea before a gig, or supper after a gig? Did they indeed stay the night? I still walk along my old street, and every time I think: did The Beatles walk along here too? And I fantasise about one of the little houses bearing a Blue Plaque, announcing proudly ‘IN 1963 THE BEATLES STAYED HERE’. There are many meticulous Beatles archivists who may be able to research this. The band’s shows in Romford are well-documented; there are a few local residents who remember seeing them. Did the Beatles drop into or stay the night in a little house in a street in Romford? There may only be two people left who really know the answer: Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr.

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Julie Cruickshank reflects on a mystery surrounding The Beatles playing her home town of Romford in Essex twice in 1963 and Ringo Starr's stepfather Harry Graves who came from there

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