In l968, Gerry Mawdsley was a 16-year-old Formby fan living in Wigan, Lancashire. One day, after hearing some disturbing news, he walked over to Westminster Street to carry out an act of vandalism. He'd learned that this block of houses was soon to be demolished. He also knew that No 3 was the house where George Formby was born and he didn't want them to knock it down before he'd done his dirty deed. No 3 was empty so he knocked at the door of No 5. When the man came to the door Gerry asked to borrow a screwdriver. The man obliged and Gerry went back to No 3 and unscrewed the '3' off the front door. This simple gesture was the start of his campaign to have Wigan Borough Council publicly recognise the existence of the town's - and the country's - greatest personality. Gerry didn' t know it then but 30 years would pass before he achieved his goal. Gerry: "I still have the house number where George was born. It's a wonderful memento. While I was there, I took some photos of the outside, then I climbed in through the back window and took some photos inside too. On 26 May 1998, after 30 years of trying, Gerry Mawdsley achieved a life-long ambition when a party of GFS members gathered at the unveiling of a plaque at the birthplace of George Formby. After the houses were knocked down, the site was cleared and it remained undeveloped for two years. I then contacted the Council and asked if they intended to commemorate the spot with some kind of memorial. I got no response. I'm convinced they couldn't see George's genius for what it really was. They were somewhat embarrassed by him, perceiving him to be just a cloth capped comedian." Over the years, the subject was raised from time to time but nothing ever came of it, and it was in 1990 when Gerry made another serious attempt. By this time the image of George Formby had changed and his contribution to British show business was fully appreciated. The Council acknowledged this and agreed to make a plaque. They did indeed produce a wooden mount with a brass plate. However, they did nothing with it, claiming that there was nowhere to put it near to the original dwelling in Westminster Street. Then, shortly afterwards, a new road was built that ran by the old site and a wall was built alongside it. Gerry: "I went back to the council and explained to them that they now had no excuse for not mounting the plaque. But although they agreed, I heard nothing more for two more years. In 1997, I went back to the Council once more and located the man in charge of heritage matters. His name was Dick Hatch and it turned that we were old friends. He worked for the BBC in Manchester and I had done a number of shows for him. I explained why I had come and he was amazed that a memorial didn't already exist. He did a lot of work behind the scenes until finally, on 26 May 1998, on what would have been George's 94th birthday, we got the job done." The plaque was unveiled by George's brother Ted and the deputy mayor of Wigan, Bill Smith. 60 members of the Society turned up to cheer them on. The celebrations were then continued at The Grand Hotel where a champion concert and buffet was enjoyed by all. It was quite a moment for Ted who brought his son Daryl with his wife. They sat in the audience looking somewhat bemused by our antics. "Well, it's different," they said. They promised to come to Blackpool and it would be nice to see George's nephew sitting in the front row. In his speech Ted thanked all those responsible for their efforts. Bill remarked how pleased he was that the mayor couldn't make it which meant that he'd got the job instead. He then surprised and delighted everyone with a fine performance of Blackpool Rock. But the star of the show was undoubtedly Gerry Mawdsley. It was his day and he deserved every glorious moment of it. The actual address is 3 Westminster St, Wigan WN5 9BH
Wigan Memorial
Gerry’s glorious moment!
Wigan Day Out Wigan Day Out
In l968, Gerry Mawdsley was a 16-year-old Formby fan living in Wigan, Lancashire. One day, after hearing some disturbing news, he walked over to Westminster Street to carry out an act of vandalism. He'd learned that this block of houses was soon to be demolished. He also knew that No 3 was the house where George Formby was born and he didn't want them to knock it down before he'd done his dirty deed. No 3 was empty so he knocked at the door of No 5. When the man came to the door Gerry asked to borrow a screwdriver. The man obliged and Gerry went back to No 3 and unscrewed the '3' off the front door. This simple gesture was the start of his campaign to have Wigan Borough Council publicly recognise the existence of the town's - and the country's - greatest personality. Gerry didn' t know it then but 30 years would pass before he achieved his goal. Gerry: "I still have the house number where George was born. It's a wonderful memento. While I was there, I took some photos of the outside, then I climbed in through the back window and took some photos inside too. On 26 May 1998, after 30 years of trying, Gerry Mawdsley  achieved a life-long ambition when a party of GFS members gathered at the unveiling of a plaque at the birthplace of George Formby. After the houses were knocked down, the site was cleared and it remained undeveloped for two years. I then contacted the Council and asked if they intended to commemorate the spot with some kind of memorial. I got no response. I'm convinced they couldn't see George's genius for what it really was. They were somewhat embarrassed by him, perceiving him to be just a cloth capped comedian." Over the years, the subject was raised from time to time but nothing ever came of it, and it was in 1990 when Gerry made another serious attempt. By this time the image of George Formby had changed and his contribution to British show business was fully appreciated. The Council acknowledged this and agreed to make a plaque. They did indeed produce a wooden mount with a brass plate. However, they did nothing with it, claiming that there was nowhere to put it near to the original dwelling in Westminster Street. Then, shortly afterwards, a new road was built that ran by the old site and a wall was built alongside it. Gerry: "I went back to the council and explained to them that they now had no excuse for not mounting the plaque. But although they agreed, I heard nothing more for two more years. In 1997, I went back to the Council once more and located the man in charge of heritage matters. His name was Dick Hatch and it turned that we were old friends. He worked for the BBC in Manchester and I had done a number of shows for him. I explained why I had come and he was amazed that a memorial didn't already exist. He did a lot of work behind the scenes until finally, on 26 May 1998, on what would have been George's 94th birthday, we got the job done." The plaque was unveiled by George's brother Ted and the deputy mayor of Wigan, Bill Smith. 60 members of the Society turned up to cheer them on. The celebrations were then continued at The Grand Hotel where a champion concert and buffet was enjoyed by all. It was quite a moment for Ted who brought his son Daryl with his wife. They sat in the audience looking somewhat bemused by our antics. "Well, it's different," they said. They promised to come to Blackpool and it would be nice to see George's nephew sitting in the front row. In his speech Ted thanked all those responsible for their efforts. Bill remarked how pleased he was that the mayor couldn't make it which meant that he'd got the job instead. He then surprised and delighted everyone with a fine performance of Blackpool Rock. But the star of the show was undoubtedly Gerry Mawdsley. It was his day and he deserved every glorious moment of it. The actual address is 3 Westminster St, Wigan WN5 9BH
Wigan Memorial
Gerry’s glorious moment!
Wigan Day Out Wigan Day Out
The actual address is 3 Westminster St, Wigan WN5 9BH