The Beatles in Bangor

Plaque at Bangor University

Last updated: 02 September 2009

After they stopped touring in 1966, The Beatles visited Wales once more, to take part in a 10-day conference on Transcendental Meditation led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Beatles first met Maharishi on 24 August 1967, at a lecture given at the London Hilton hotel. Afterwards they had a private audience with him, and agreed to travel to Bangor in north Wales for a series of meditation seminars.

"Cyn and I were thinking of going to Libya, until this came up. Libya or Bangor? Well, there was no choice, was there?" - John Lennon, 1967

The group travelled to north Wales on the morning of 25 August, on the same train as Maharishi and his staff. Joining The Beatles were Pattie Harrison, her sister Jenny Boyd, 'Magic' Alex Mardas, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, all of whom were interested in learning about Transcendental Meditation.

Cynthia Lennon narrowly missed the train, having been held back on the platform at Euston Station by a policeman, so was driven to Bangor by The Beatles' assistant Neil Aspinall.

As their train approached Bangor The Beatles considered staying on to the next station in an attempt to avoid the journalists and camera crews, and taking taxis to Bangor instead. However, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who didn't fully understand the extent of the group's fame, told them to stick with him.

The Beatles stayed in dormitories in Dyfrdwy, one of the halls in the Hugh Owen Building of Bangor University. Their rooms were simple, containing bunk beds and basic furniture, in a stark contrast to the luxuries The Beatles were used to.

It was a bit funny going to those camps because it was like going back to school. Just the nature of it meant staying in a classroom and we'd been used to our nice comfortable homes or hotels so to be staying in an old school on a camp bed was a little bit disconcerting... And of course the food was all canteen food. But we were interested enough to learn the system, which we did." - Paul McCartney, 1997

On the first evening The Beatles, Mick Jagger and Marrianne Faithfull, went to the Senior Chinese restaurant, the only place they could get food late at night in Bangor. At the end of the meal they realised they didn't have enough money between them to pay the bill.

At the time The Beatles were unaccustomed to carrying money. The waiter didn't recognise them, and demanded payment. Eventually George Harrison picked up a knife and opened the sole of his sandal, within which he had hidden a £20 note.

The next day The Beatles attended an introductory seminar given by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The seminar was held in the main hall of the Hugh Owen Buildings, now part of Bangor University, and was attended by around 300 people.

After the seminar The Beatles held a press conference for reporters, during which they renounced the use of drugs.

On Sunday 27 August 1967, two days after their arrival in Bangor, the news broke that The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein had died.

The telephone repeatedly rang in one of the dormitories, and was eventually answered by Jane Asher. Peter Brown, Brian Epstein's assistant, asked to speak to Paul McCartney immediately.

News of Epstein's death had already reached the British press, and reporters were gathering around the college entrance. McCartney immediately made his way back to London, but John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, visibly shocked by the news, spoke briefly to reporters before leaving Wales.

In 2002, Bangor University unveiled a plaque to commemorate the 35th anniversary of The Beatles' visit in the Hugh Owen Hall, which is now part of Bangor Business School's Management Centre.

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Bob Hewitt discusses how he photographed The Beatles and Mick Jagger when they visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in August 1967.

From the BBC Wales programme The Slate, February 1996.

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