A ST ANNES antique shop has uncovered a ukulele
once owned by George Formby, the town's most famous former resident.
Brian Chesters from Janet's Antiques on Park Road bought the instrument
from a local dealer and has since been able to verify that that it did
indeed once belong to the world famous entertainer.
"The dealer informed me that it was once George Formby's property,"
said Brian, "And was presented to the late owner, a Mr Tony Heaton
of Blackpool, but he knew nothing more than that."
With a little detective work from The Express Brian discovered that the
instrument was given to a Fylde based entertainer called Tony Heaton who,
as Brian discovered, led a colourful life...
Tony Heaton was born in 1905 and began work in the entertainments industry.
Over his working years he appeared in more than 30 pantomimes and once
boasted that he could do a full change of costume and wig, 40 times in
He visited 14 different countries in 14 months and worked with George
Formby and his wife Beryl during these tours. They had a lot in common,
they would have been about the same age and lived in the same area of
England and were in the same business. In January 1945, he flew with George
and Beryl to Burma to entertain the troops for the last few weeks of the
Sadly, after a few problems in his personal life, Tony Heaton's body was
found washed up on the sands at Blackpool in August 1965.
His funeral was held at St Johns Church where he was a chorister and was
attended by 200 people inside and many more who couldn't get in.
When George died in 1961, his entire estate was sold at auction which
was held in a marquee in the grounds of his St Annes home, including his
According to the George Formby Society, there are 19 instruments known
to have been his property and most are cherished by their owners.
Brian added: "It would appear that George gave the ukulele to Tony
Heaton during the war years and it has laid forgotten since his death.
"It is nice to know that St Annes has unearthed the 20th of George's
© Martyn Corner, Blackpool Gazette & Herald
Please note that this is archived news.
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