by 'A.J' Marriot

I DON'T Believe it!

If someone had told you that, some years back when they went to Butlins Skegness, they had seen Cannon & Ball, or Little & Large, you'd have no hesitation in believing them. However, if someone told you they'd seen comic legends Laurel & Hardy there, you might think that the mixture of beer and bracing air had affected their brains. However, that Laurel & Hardy DID appear at the Butlins Theatre Skegness is a fact.

Between February and September 1947 Stan and Ollie did an extensive tour of the No.1 theatre circuit in England and Scotland. The two screen comedians played Skegness week commencing 23 June, sandwiched between weeks in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On Monday afternoon, after rehearsals at the theatre, the two superstars were to be found in the Empress Ballroom, where they judged one of the heats of the 'Holiday Lovelies' competition. And, whilst 'the Boys' were keeping their eyes on the girls, their wives - Ida and Lucille - were keeping their eyes on them, by making up the rest of the judging panel. There was less beauty to behold in the competition which followed, namely the 'Knobbly Knees' competition - in which elderly men, with their trouser-legs rolled up, were subjected to a series of humiliating tasks.


Here we see Stan & Ollie judging
the 'Holiday Lovelies' Competition

in the Empress Ballroom.

And here they're having their shoes shined by the
on-site shoe-cleaning service provided by Day & Martin.
(No! NOT Lewis & Martin. Lewis & Martin weren't fit
to clean Laurel & Hardy's shoes.)

Just two of many photos of Laurel & Hardy at Butlins in 1947.
If you have any more, or know someone who was there at the time please contact me.

On Tuesday afternoon the Laurels and the Hardys were out on the Gloucester Green, judging junior competitions for boys, girls, and toddlers. At other times, they were photographed participating in various leisure activities, such as roller skating, and riding around on one of the Butlin's fun-bikes. And, later in the week, they spent a bit of time with Billy Butlin himself.

The full story of how Laurel and Hardy came to be touring this country can be found in my book: Laurel & Hardy - The British Tours, which also records THREE other tours they made over here. (Copies available directly from me. It makes a great Christmas gift.) I will also be doing a presentation entitled 'The Boys at Butlins,' which will include all known photos of Laurel & Hardy taken during their stay at Butlins Skegness, at the REDCOAT REUNION, which I am hosting on 23-26 May 2008 at Butlins Skegness.

The Redcoat Reunion is being run concurrent with a 'STAN & OLLIDAY - a Laurel & Hardy themed weekend. So, if like me you love Butlins AND Laurel & Hardy, then Skegness  - the second May Bank Holiday weekend in 2008  - is the place to be. If you wish to book for this fantastic weekend, click on this link:  STAN & OLLIDAY 2008

The two Hollywood mega-stars' association with Butlins goes even further. In 1932 they spent a night at the Blackpool Metropole Hotel, where they were mobbed by tens-of-thousands of holidaymakers.


When Laurel and Hardy appeared on the balcony of the Metropole Hotel,
Blackpool, the whole area you can see in the picture, was crammed full
with thousands of holidaymakers just wanting to cast their eyes on them
(1st August 1932)

And then, after the 1947 Skegness engagement, Stan and Ollie spent a week at (what went on to become) the Butlins Hotel in Cliftonville, whilst making nightly appearances at the Winter Gardens, Margate.


The St. Georges Hotel, Cliftonville, Margate, where the world's favourite
comedians, Laurel and Hardy, spent a week during a tour of British theatres.

(week commencing 18 August 1947).



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