and HARDY BOOKS
HARDY in NORTHAMPTON
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
Oliver Hardy escorts Stan Laurel and pupils from Notre Dame School across Abingdon Street.
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.
Ollie telling Stan where to park the car, ready for him to elope with his sweetheart, Dulcy.
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)
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SIGNED by the author, 'A.J' Marriot