Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles in Cornwall

Fistral Beach

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first single (Love Me Do), the BBC recently aired the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ for the first time in thirty years.

At the height of their powers, the band embarked on a bus odyssey which ‘charted’ their psychedelic progress across the country to England’s beautiful South West. The journey ended with scenes in Newquay and Watergate Bay, and while the reception to the film itself was mixed, the Beatles time in Cornwall is remembered with fondness to this day. Indeed, local themed tours are available from Newquay based on the Fab Four’s Mystery tour to commemorate The Beatle’s time in Cornwall.

It is thought that Sir Paul McCartney was the creative force driving the project and it was his suggestion to choose Cornwall as one of the principle locations for the film. Childhood holidays influenced his choice but Sir Paul also spent time in the creative enclave at St Ives which, during the 1960s, was at the forefront of the artistic avent garde.  Luminaries such as sculptor Barbara Hepworth and painters Ben Nicolson and Peter Lanyon had propelled this sleepy Cornish fishing village into the art world stratosphere and for a time St Ives even rivalled New York and Paris.

Whilst taking a break from filming, Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were invited by friends to spend an evening in Perranporth. Imagine the shock of the locals as Paul and Ringo wandered into the Tywarnhayle  pub to take the lead in an impromptu sing along which by all accounts  lasted for much of the evening.  With a pint and a piano, Paul belted out pub classics and teased disbelieving onlookers with Beatles hits. On another occasion, whilst relaxing in the Sailors bar in Newquay,  it was the Beatles turn to be surprised, as in walked the local “Eggman”, a reference from ‘I am the Walrus’  which the Beatles had  written just a few months before    An ordinary day for one local tradesman delivering  eggs ended up with international celebrities vying to be photographed with his now famous “Eggman” van!

Recently amateur film shot during time spent in Newquay has been made public and it depicts a world many of us would not recognise. Newquay today is of course a bustling resort but the striking coastal scenery captured in the Magical Mystery Tour remains unchanged. Fistral Beach to the south of the town  leading towards Crantock is simply gorgeous. There are few better ways to spend a relaxing sunny afternoon that to enjoy a meal with a Cornish ale at the stunning Lewinnick lodge, perched over cliffs looking out across towards the bay.

The film ends with scenes at Watergate Bay, just a short distance to the north of Newquay. Here dramatic cliffs look across vast expanses of sand, images captured forever in the film. Today, like its Newquay cousin,  Watergate Bay is a haven for surfers and with such a large beach there is even an annual Polo tournament and the beautiful backdrop is the venue for concerts. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant has an elevated position looking out across the beach. Sitting back enjoying breakfast whilst gazing across the sapphire seasape, is a mesmerising experience fit for a Beatle!

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