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When Sailors' Society fed The Beatles

A Christian maritime charity that helped The Beatles when they fell on hard times has released a new book, which includes how it fed George Harrison horsemeat in Hamburg.

Whenever they played Hamburg, the band visited Sailors’ Society’s seafarers’ centre. John and George both had fathers who were seafarers and recognised the charity’s name from its centre in Liverpool.

Sailors’ Society works with seafarers and their families around the world providing practical and emotional support. It also runs centres where seafarers can take time away from busy ports.

The charity’s CEO, Stuart Rivers, said: “When we started gathering stories together for the book, we didn’t know exactly how we’d supported The Beatles.

“There were rumours they composed songs on the centre’s piano, but to find out we fed them horse meat at Christmas was a bit of a surprise!”

The band, which at the time consisted of John, Paul, George and Stu (Sutcliffe) and subsequently Pete (Best), first visited the centre in August 1960, two years before Love Me Do hit the UK charts.

The centre manager at the time, Jim Hawke, said they were never any trouble, were well behaved and didn’t even smoke. He remembered years later: “They never seemed to have any money – you could see them carefully counting out the coins and they always had the cheapest food.”

Ringo Starr also stayed at the centre while playing with Mersey-beat outfit Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, but it was George Harrison who possibly had the most memorable experience.

He’d visited the centre with another Liverpool band, The Dominoes, whose guitarist John Frankland later remembered: “We ate steaks and we found out later they were horse steaks. We’d eaten a horse for Christmas!”

Sailors’ Society has produced 200 Stories from the Sea to commemorate its bicentenary and all profits made will go to its work. The book features 200 maritime tales from the charity’s archives and is available in paperback, hardback and in a limited edition sleeve.

You can order your copy now at

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