SEPTEMBER 11 has become a significant date to citizens of the 21st century but that date in 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of a less-known event, though one which ought not to pass unnoticed.

It was on September 11 (a Monday as it is this year) that the Beatles and an entourage of about thirty people set off from London in a brightly painted coach on what was to become ‘the Magical Mystery Tour’.

Their intended destination that day was Cornwall but the coach made its first stop at the Pied Piper restaurant in the south-west corner of Basingstoke. The stop was not scheduled so it would not have been possible to notify the Hants & Berks Gazette in advance of the Fab Four’s only recorded visit to the town and subsequently the Gazette did not report it.

However, there is a handful of official photographs of the Beatles taken inside the coach while it was parked outside the Pied Piper, that clearly show the familiar façade of the Stag & Hounds pub which has been preserved throughout the half-century; it became part of the Harvester chain at the end of the seventies and has recently undergone further renovation.

A set of seven photographs of the Beatles, taken outside the Pied Piper on September 11, 1967, was auctioned by Christie’s in the nineties for an undisclosed fee. These pictures were apparently sold with a set of autographs signed on a Pied Piper headed document. It is believed that the manager (of the restaurant or possibly the Pied Piper filling station next door) had seized the opportunity to capture images of the legendary group but the pictures do not seem to have been published and attempts to find them have so far come to nothing.

The Pied Piper restaurant and filling station were on the main route between London and Southampton or the West Country until the M3 took control of through-traffic at the beginning of the seventies. This was the point where the old Harrow Way by-pass met the Winchester Road.

Brighton Hill Roundabout was built in the same era as the M3 but the strip of Winchester Road that had once borne all that traffic was finally relieved of the responsibility in the nineties when a further spur was added to the roundabout, leaving this ancient piece of road as a local route to Pack Lane and the Berg Estate.

The landmarks that the Beatles would have seen have all gone, with the exception of the Stag & Hounds and the White House which in the sixties served as both a restaurant and as an antiques shop and is now a pizza restaurant.

The Beatles had set out ‘the Magical Mystery Tour’ to generate footage for a film which was shown at Christmas in 1967 but it does not include any shots from the Basingstoke episode.

The Magical Mystery Tour was released as a double 7” EP with a 28-page booklet. On page 11 of the booklet (if you have a copy to hand) you will see a comic-strip story entitled ‘What a Marvellous Lunch’ and a reference to ‘the Magic Piper’.

If you get a receipt from the Shell Garage or the Home Bargains store which stands on the site today, you will see the words Pied Piper at the top; now you know why.

For further information about this story and the history of this corner of town, check ‘Beatles in Basingstoke’ on

Raz Razzle