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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Duke Street and Wigmore Street: Apple and ale.


In the first half of 1968, Apple resided not at Savile Row, but at 95 Wigmore Street, where the corps occupied a 4th floor suite. Above is a shot of John, Paul and Neil Aspinall from that time in that location. Duke Street, a small terrace connecting Wigmore Street and Manchester Square (then home to EMI), can be seen through the window over John's shoulder. The lower pic above dates from the early 70s, and was taken in Duke Street, near the Devonshire Arms, which is on the left.
This is probably the common or garden boozer with the strongest Beatles connections, owing to its proximity to EMI House. Before the debilitating effects of Beatlemania kicked in, they were often to be seen in here when preparing for, or recovering from business meetings round the corner.
Tony Barrow, purveyor of peerless hyperbole on the hind parts of early Beatles releases, recalls meeting them for the first time in this very pub. He was impressed by Macca who, canny as ever, ordered a round and then quietly got Eppy to pay. John (never a Hail-Fellow-Well-Met type of drinker) was more or less silent, though he did apparently snarl at one point "If you aren't queer or Jewish, why are you working for Brian Epstein?"
Charming. The pub is still there today, and despite a bit of a face-lift (alas, no more Toby Ale), remains more or less the same place in which the Fabs once cadged beer, drank and snarled:


Many thanks to Julian Carr for his continued sterling picture research, and to the City of London, London Metropolitan Archives for kind permission to use the early 70s Duke Street shot.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, I am the owner of the Devonshire today and have been so for the past 3 and a half years. Your pictures are very receent and you are right probably nothing much has changed since the 60s.. It is a typical west end pub and is frequented by mostly media companies who have their businesses nearby. How about some type of Beatles style reunion which I,m sure would entertain the new media guys 50 years on. if you call at the pub
    ask for Pauline (The Duchess of Duke Street)

    Great find.

    Bob Mc Arthur

    Paul turning up for a pint would help the January Blues.

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  2. A very pleasant extra-curicular pint at the Devonshire Arms last Friday afternoon. The barmaid was fascinated (ok - mildly interested) in the pub's entry in the Beatles London Book (yes, I do carry it with me...urmm..) she then told me that she has another job at the local hair salon where she occasionally 'does' the hair of Brian Epstein's niece. Goodness

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