‘Roll up, roll up, for the magical mystery tour! Step right this way!’

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URO 913E, the coach that was actually used in the Magical Mystery Tour, is seen in Susan Road Central Coach Station, Eastbourne on 1 July 1968. ALAN SNATT COLLECTION

Hot on the heels of the auction of Paul McCartney’s Wings tour bus, Alan Payling looks at the history, the route and the legacy of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour

It must now be one of the most famous coach trips, not just in Liverpool or the UK, but in the known universe. I am of course talking about the Magical Mystery Tour, the film and the accompanying sound track that was made by the most famous pop group in the western world in 1967: the Beatles. Having just recently bought a copy of the Magical Mystery Tour on DVD, when I watched it for the first time in many years, my curiosity was piqued. Where did they go? Where did they stop? Why did they call it a mystery tour? What sort of coach did they use and what happened to one of the most famous PSVs in popular music and film? What is the legacy of the film and the music? So, roll up, make a reservation, that’s an invitation, as this article is waiting to take you away… and, ladies and gentleman, satisfaction is guaranteed!

When the Fab Four started work on this project in the summer of love, literally everything that they had touched until that point in time had turned to gold, if not platinum. All their records had been record breaking best sellers and the two musicals they had previously starred in – A Hard Day’s Night and Help! – had at least been comprehensible, if not classic movies, saved by their soundtracks. Their latest album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released earlier that year in May, 1967, had been received and regarded with universal acclaim – and still is. Then, on 25 June 1967, the group had taken part in Our World, the first live international satellite broadcast singing the hippy anthem All You Need Is Love. At that time, they were very much on a high, in more ways than one.

Nostalgic style

The idea itself of a film about a mystery coach tour was completely in step with the nostalgia in content and style that runs through many of their records like the Mersey Tunnel through Merseyside, particularly in some of Paul McCartney’s songs. I’m thinking here of Beatles’ songs like Penny Lane, Honey Pie and Mother Nature’s Son not to mention John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields Forever. Also, one of the songs featured in the film, Your Mother Should Know, takes the listener back in time. And that’s not to mention the theme tunes if you like of Sgt Pepper’s and the Magical Mystery Tour – ‘Roll Up, Roll Up for the mystery tour, step right this way.‘ You can just imagine the touts at Pier Head coming out with that.


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