From Bunkers to Beatles

During World War II an air raid shelter was provided for the 458 staff based in the offices, along with first aid and fire equipment.

In the 1960s a nuclear bunker was constructed. This was one of many across the country built by local authorities to protect key personnel from radiation in the event of an attack, enabling some form of government to continue.

Charles Street, queuing for Beatles tickets, 1963

Charles Street, queuing for Beatles tickets, 1963 - Image copyright Leicester Mercury

By 1963 the De Montfort Hall Box Office was located in the building. This caused chaotic scenes in Charles Street when, in October of that year, around 3,000 youngsters queued all night for tickets to see The Beatles. When the Box Office opened at 9:30am, the queue stretched back to Humberstone Gate and was held in check by “a pitifully thin line” of police. The Leicester Mercury described the scene as:

“a heaving, shouting, screaming, unruly, undignified, disorderly mob …a disgraceful night”.

Pressure from the crowd caused a 10 foot square window in Halford´s shop to break. With all the tickets sold, the crowd dispersed and the Leicester Mercury said Charles Street resembled:

“a filthy, unswept ghost street, badly in need of the cleaners to remove the mountains of waste paper and return its respectability”.

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New Walk Centre to City Hall