While the nation marked the Queen’s 90th birthday last month, a member of Lancashire’s showbiz royalty was born 90 years ago today. MIKE HILL has delved into the archives to share images of comic genius Eric Morecambe at home in the Red Rose county
John Eric Bartholomew took his famous name from the town of his birth.
And it was on May 14, 1926 that Eric Morecambe was born in his auntie’s house in Buxton Street, in the resort.
His parents George and Sadie spent most of their working lives living just a few doors away in the same street near to Morecambe’s market.
Legend has it Eric arrived in the world at his auntie’s home three doors away as there was a leaky roof at his parents’ house at the time and they did not think it was a fitting place to bring a child into the world.
His father was a council labourer, easy going and contented, and it was mum who pushed her son’s talents from a young age.
Educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, his parents were warned early on that paying for his schooling was like throwing money down the drain.
But if his academic skills were not brilliant it soon became clear he had other talents.
He started stage school
at 11 in the Jubilee Club, in Torrisholme, and won so many seaside talent shows that he was barred from entering.
The Bartholomews spent money they could ill afford on dancing, singing and piano lessons for him. Indeed, it was his mum who encouraged Eric to change his name in 1948 because she considered Bartholomew was unsuitable for theatrical bills.
By this time he had already teamed up with Ernie Wiseman after meeting in
a touring show Youth Takes A Bow. It was the start of a double act which enshrined itself in the hearts and minds of the whole nation.
Despite his rise to stardom, Eric would try to make the time to return to Morecambe and was always proud of his northern roots, famously once saying: “My ambition is to become a comedian. My hero is George Formby, another native of Lancashire. I would certainly like to follow in his footsteps.”On his last visit to the area he opened an old people’s housing scheme in Lancaster and would often be found getting involved in community events.
Eric was held in high regard by locals and whenever he visited Morecambe they would send him back home to Harpenden, in Hertfordshire, with his car boot stashed with Morecambe Bay shrimps, sticks of Morecambe rock and fistfuls of crab claws.