Hard day’s night to pay off for props man as Beatles photos surface

The Beatles filming a session for their film 'A Hard Days Night'. Picture: PA
The Beatles filming a session for their film 'A Hard Days Night'. Picture: PA
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AFTER lying hidden in a family album for almost half a century, unseen pictures of the Beatles are set to go under the hammer.

The 20 black-and-white snaps have never been published and give a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Fab Four on the cusp of becoming a global phenomenon.

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather looks through prints of The Beatles. Picture: PA

Auctioneer Paul Fairweather looks through prints of The Beatles. Picture: PA

They were taken as the band filmed their first movie, A Hard Day’s Night, in March 1964, at the Scala Theatre in London.

The photos show the band with their instruments, but also between takes in off-guarded moments.

In one image, Ringo Starr is captured perched with his feet on bricks to boost his height for the cameras.

Taking photos on a “closed set” was strictly banned to stop leaks of the band’s new material.

But Peter Allchorne, the then props manager at Pinewood Studios, was able to wander around with his Kodak Retinette snapping away without fuss.

The photos were then put in his family album and largely forgotten about until Mr Allchorne, now 87, who lives in Preston, Lancashire, decided to put them up for sale at auction.

His daughter, Jacqueline Griffin said that while the world was embracing Beatlemania, her father thought they were just another band he had got to know through his job.

“He was just that type of person who always had a camera round his neck,” she said.

“It was not unusual for him to be on set and taking pictures. He wanted to take pictures of one of the crew, a mate Alfie, and they were there, it was when the Beatles were on stage.

“He got to know them quite well, but he was just not that interested. I think they just larked about and had a good time. He was not particularly star-struck.

“They were just four lads in a band, it didn’t really hit him.

She said of the photos: “They are unpublished and never seen. They’ve been in a family album since 1964. He’s never held any value on them because he was not into the Beatles. He doesn’t have any sentimental attachment. He didn’t like the music, he was into jazz.”

A menu card, signed by John, Paul, George and Ringo from the band’s trip aboard the BOAC Cunard, London to New York flight will also go under the hammer at the sale.

The four lads from Liverpool had a choice including the finest wines from the vineyards of Bordeaux, champagne and clear turtle soup amontillado as they flew to the Bahamas – along with Mr Allchorne – for the filming of Help! in February 1965.

A second unsigned menu card from the return leg of the journey features a mis-spelling of “the Beattles” – with the mistake expected to attract extra interest from bidders for its novelty.

However, the photos Mr Allchorne took of the Beatles on their Bahamas trip have been lost forever, after his camera was stolen from the beach. The remaining photos, taken in London, along with the original negatives, have been given an estimate of £2,000 and the entire lot £10,000.

The sale will take place at Omega Auctions in Stockport, Cheshire, in May.

Earlier this year, the world- famous Scots photographer Harry Benson announced he had compiled a new set of photos of the band, in a new book called Harry Benson – The Beatles.

It features some familiar images, including his iconic photograph of the Beatles enjoying a pillow fight in a hotel in Paris.

Benson, originally from Glasgow, said he had raided his archives for alternative shots of the band on their breakthrough tours of the United States and Europe. His luminous black-and-white photographs show the Beatles composing, performing, encountering their fans, relaxing, and engaging with each other, while trying to cope with their increasingly isolating fame.

As well as hundreds of photos there is an essay by Benson as well as quotes and newspaper clippings from the period.

His limited edition book also includes recollections from the author, who writes about Muhammad Ali “bragging and clowning around” and how “aloof” the French were to the band during their 1964 visit.

Speaking about his latest collection and his relationship with the band, Benson said: “These photos convey a happy period for them and for me.”

He added: “It all comes down to music, they were the greatest band of the 20th century, and that’s why these photographs are so important.”