George Formby (26th May 1904 to 6th March 1961)

 

Here I am outside “Beryldene”, the last home of George Formby the Lancashire-born star who enamoured the nation with his unusual brand of comedy and music. When doctors earned about £1000 per year he was earning £100,000. This buck-teethed clown with his repetitive ukulele strumming meant so much to the nation that over 100,000 people turned out onto the streets for his funeral.

 

Though he could not even read music and was difficult to talk to (he was known to be a bit vacuous) there was no-one like him. His father was a music hall artist who used a routine as a singing, accident-prone tramp. He didn’t want young George to follow him into show business and persuaded his son to be a professional jockey. However George’s path changed when he was 16 and his dad died. He was a poor jockey and thought he’d use his father’s act on stage. Due to chronic nerves he started incorporating a ukulele in his act and things stepped up a gear. The making of him was meeting Beryl Ingram, a beautiful blonde who was also working as a clog-dancer on the Lancashire music hall circuit. George fell for her and they married (she wasn’t sexual and was so repulsed by the idea of having children that she underwent a hysterectomy shortly after their wedding.)

 

As George’s career progressed Beryl governed every hour of her husband’s day and career. Though he was seemingly smiling and happy-go-lucky his was profoundly miserable. For nearly forty years this woman ran his life like a tyrant. Her ruthlessness, savage tongue and sheer willpower put him in a constant state of terror. He wasn’t allowed to befriend co-stars or go to the pub with his friends. She allowed him five shillings (25p) a week pocket money even when he had a £500,000 film contract with Columbia pictures. To be fair to her George probably wouldn’t have gone far without her firepower - she was monstrous but exceptionally clever.

 

The photos here show the last house they bought from the tenor Joseph Locke for £6,000. It was named Beryldene as previous houses had been. George was 49 years old and it would be home for another seven years until his death. When Beryl contracted cancer she had to use crutches. For the first time George felt slightly free of her clutches. He started a relationship with a schoolteacher Pat Howson (20 years his junior.) Within eight weeks of Beryl dying he announced his engagement to Pat. Happiness was cut shortly, though. Only two days before the wedding on 6th March 1961 he died of heart failure. He was only 56 when he died in Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Hospital in Preston.

 

After George’s death his executors held a three day auction of all his belongings (including his underpants), held under a canvass erected in the back garden. Over 1,000 items were sold including his Bentley, musical instruments and even his dog. The house itself was also auctioned and fetched £9,000. In recent times Beryldene has been extended into the attic and had a conservatory added at the rear. The art-deco stained glass within the UPV windows and the walnut-panel hallway still remain. In 2012 it was for sale at £895,000.

 

To read about Beryl please click on this link…

 

http://johnhalley.uk/Death%20-%20Beryl%20Formby.htm

 

 

When in Fairhaven I usually have my dinner with George…

 

 

 

 

 

The sea from the sand dunes opposite Beryldene

 

Looking left up to Fairhaven…

 

…and right toward Lytham…

 

 

On the sand dunes near Beryldene

 

At Fairhaven Lake not far from Beryldene

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not far from George’s grave is the soldiers section…you’ve just got to salute…

 

Just about to get back in the car. Goodbye George!