LAUREL and HARDY BOOKS

LAUREL & HARDY in NORTHAMPTON
Road Safety Campaign
by A.J Marriot

Elsewhere on this site you can find the story "AERIAL ANTICS" which featured an incident with Laurel and Hardy, during their stay in Northampton, when a workman was repairing a lamp outside their hotel window. This time around we find Stan and Babe on good old terra-cotta, with two photos taken during a promotion for "Road Safety Week." The story behind these goes briefly like this:

Week commencing 19th October 1953, Laurel and Hardy were booked for a week's engagement at the New Theatre, Northampton. After the Monday morning rehearsals, their schedule was interrupted when P.C. Spiller, of the Northamptonshire Constabulary, enticed them outside into Abington Street to pose for the photograph, below. In it, we see Stan with a group of schoolchildren standing by a zebra-crossing, and a rather portly warden, Ollie, holding a huge rectangular sign (a prototype "lollipop"), and directing them across. Maybe because Hardy was the first to demonstrate it, it was named after him - "l'olliepop."

My Boy Lollipop

LAUREL HARDY NORTHAMPTON

Oliver Hardy escorts Stan Laurel and pupils from Notre Dame School across Abingdon Street.

(Marriot Collection)

The "lollipop" photo has been published before but, to our knowledge, the photograph of the next piece of the promotion has not. For parked right next to the zebra-crossing (you can see the Belisha Beacon) was a 1902 Wolsey car, in and around which Stan and Babe performed some comedy antics, but with a serious message.

LAUREL and HARDY in NORTHAMPTON

Ollie telling Stan where to park the car, ready for him to elope with his sweetheart, Dulcy.

(Marriot Collection)

For many years it was believed that film footage existed of these two sequences, but this was subsequently disproved when I spoke to P.C. Spiller, the organiser of the whole event. The good news, is that the car in the photo does still exist. If you wish to see it, you'll find it in the car showroom of W. Grose Ltd. Queen's Park Parade, Northampton.

(Article Copyright "A.J" Marriot. First printed in The Laurel & Hardy Magazine - 2003)

To find the even BIGGER story behind Laurel and Hardy in Northampton,
and many more delightful stories from British towns and cities,
treat yourself to a copy of
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