Advertising

'Help!' Desperate cry of Beatles manager in his Shropshire schooldays

By Toby Neal | Wellington | Nostalgia | Published: | Last Updated:

Recognise anyone, yeah, yeah, yeah? And that's a big clue.

Because one of these rugby players showing off their cup at Wrekin College in Wellington was to become world famous.

The tall lad, fourth from the left on the back row, is Brian Epstein, later manager of The Beatles.

The picture was printed in one of the first ever Shropshire Stars, on October 8, 1964 - the paper had started on October 5 - and as we have not got the original, we've copied it from the pages, so it isn't as good quality as it could be.

Nevertheless, it is history of a sort.

Brian Epstein, top, with The Beatles

The accompanying story said that Epstein was causing "this well known Shropshire public school to hold up its head with pride."

And it went on to quote Epstein as saying that Wrekin College had a most affectionate place in his memories.

However, his diaries - which went under the hammer at Christie's in 2000 - give entirely the opposite impression.

Advertising

At one point while at Wrekin he wrote: “Help me. I am lost. Help me. I am lost."

Wrekin College, where troubled Brian Epstein spent part of his schooldays

As a 15-year-old, he wrote in 1949: “Now for Wrekin I hate. I go for my parents’ pleasure. Why?”

Another entry tells of a “very depressing day”and how he badly wants friends.

Advertising

He also writes: “To be a success at school one must above all be either distinctly original or good at games (all of them). Intellects of a quiet nature are at school invariably a failure.”

But in what our colleagues of 1964 described as an exclusive interview, he had either grown warmer to the place in retrospect, or was diplomatically lying about his true feelings.

Brian Epstein is sometimes dubbed "the fifth Beatle"

The Star article said that in the interview "he reveals for the first time some astonishing facts about his childhood and schooldays."

We can do no better than quote directly from the 1964 feature, which as it happens was written by Bernard Falk, a Star journalist who went on to make his name in television.

"Speaking at his luxury flat in London's fashionable Belgravia, he talked of his poor scholastic ability; of how he attended a total of eight schools because he was below the required educational standard; of the time that he was 'expelled' from a well-known public school; and of his loneliness at the top of a multi-million pound empire.

"Dressed immaculately in the style which made him one of 1964's ten best dressed men in Great Britain, Brian talked frankly about his great respect for Wrekin College, his affection for Salopians, and his love of the beautiful countryside.

"'Of all the schools I attended, Wrekin College has the most affectionate place in my memories,' said Brian, a dark-haired 30-year-old with the look of a man much younger.

"'I was educated at eight schools altogether and on the whole I was a most unsatisfactory pupil. Quite frankly I was academically poor, being generally below the required standard.

"'The war also caused me to move around during my education because my family left Liverpool.'"

The article said Brian's father, Harry Epstein, was managing director of the record and musical instrument firm Nems Ltd, which was not connected with Brian's own business, Nems Enterprises, of which he and his brother Clive, also an Old Wrekinian, were directors.

"'When my family returned to Liverpool I went to a public school in the city and was expelled for not being very bright. Then I went to Wrekin when I was 14 and embarked upon the happiest part of my schooldays,' Brian continued.

"'I remember Shropshire very well. I loved to walk in the countryside and have extremely fond memories of Wellington, Church Stretton, and Shrewsbury.

"At school I continued with my rather mediocre studies and played games rather badly too. Along with the rest of the school I played rugby, cricket, tennis and squash, but I was absolutely awful at them.'"

It was in art and drama that he excelled.

"'I loved acting and took part in the school and house plays. On several occasions I played the lead, but I cannot remember what parts I took,' he said."

Brian, the article said, was at Wrekin College for two years. He left when he was 16 to go into the family business and later studied at RADA for a career on stage.

"'I think that it was generally understood that I could go no further at school, even at that early age, and so I went into the business. Since leaving Wrekin I have returned only once, but I am a life member of the Old Wrekinian Association.

"'Recently I was asked if I would give a talk at the school but much to my regret business pressures made it impossible. If ever I get the opportunity I will return and revisit all my old haunts. I would also like to see some of my masters again.'"

But what did Wrekin College think of him? The article quoted staff.

"Wrekin College is tremendously proud of his achievements.

"'I remember Brian quite well,' said Mr J.R. Frost, former housemaster of York House, of which Brian was a member.

"'He was really quite a pleasant kind of boy, not very good at games. Brian's real love was dramatics, but he was not all that outstanding. He did not seem very keen on going into the family business. We are very proud of Brian's achievements. It is nice to think that an old boy has done so well. But we do not have a scroll of honour.'"

Colonel B.C.W. Johnson, who taught at Wrekin for over 40 years, was Brian's English master.

"'He said: 'There was nothing very outstanding about Brian but I always thought he was a very shrewd boy. We are proud of his achievements and I have often watched him on television.'"

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of the county?s history. Lives in Telford and based at the paper?s Ketley headquarters.

Advertising

Top stories

Advertising

More from Shropshire Star

UK & International News