MOST IMPORT DAY IN 30 YEARS

1991 - It was without doubt, the most important year in The George Formby Society’s thirty year history since the day in 1961 when the Londoner George Wilson started the ball rolling and the Society was born. The date in 1991 when the Warrington Exhibition was launched was a Red Letter day both for the Society and for many new members who, before the internet, found it difficult to join the GFS, I tried to find the Society in the late 70’s but after contacting a couple of local libraries in West Yorkshire and getting no ideas, the trail ran dry. Over 35,000 people in a three month period visited the Warrington Exhibition. It was set up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Society. I actually visited it twice and on the second occasion I shot the video clip that can be viewed on this page. I will never forget walking through the door of the Warrington Museum and being greeted by editor of the GFS magazine, The Vellum, Stan Evans who was accompanied by a brilliant young ukulele player called Anthony Mason. I immediately joined up and bought whatever was available from Stan’s shop. Then I wandered around the exhibition, delightedly gazing at all things George Formby. Most of the archives had been supplied by the late Alan Randall who had acquired them from George Formby’s fiancée Pat Howson.

NEWSREEL FOOTAGE

I also loved viewing the newsreel footage of George which was showing constantly in a small darkened cinema section of the exhibition. Lots of photographs, taken throughout George’s life were on display, has was Beryl’s famous scrapbook, George’s silver disc for “When I’m Cleaning Windows” and numerous instruments previously owned and played by the man. In short, for a three month period a George Formby paradise was created in 1991 and combining the visit to the museum with a visit to the Formby monument completed my day. The video clip was shot on my second visit when I was accompanied by the man who would get me into playing the banjo-uke, the late Stan Brown. Stan only lived 10 minutes from me and gave me invaluable help when I got my first instrument at Christmas 1991. Stan can be seen playing at the beginning of the clip.
image of John Walley The Warrington Exhibition
Personal Memories of a Magical Day
image of John Walley

Update - December 2018

Recently I watched the video and re-read my words, it made me consider all that had gone on at the time of the Warrington event and all that had happened for me since that date. The first time I visited the Warrington Exhibition was with my work colleague and best pal at Pearl Assurance, Philip Brown. As we walked around the exhibits Philip just happened to mention that his dad would enjoy the exhibition. On enquiring about Philip’s dad I was told that he was a big Formby fan, played a banjo-uke and was a member of the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle. We met up with Stan shortly after and made the trip to Warrington once again and this is when I shot the video. When I joined the GFS and the Uke Circle in ‘91, it was never my intention to play, my only interest was in George Formby, but as the year progressed from July to December, I showed the clip to all who came to our house and watched it constantly myself - so much so that my dear wife Kathryn was influenced enough to buy me an instrument as a surprise Christmas present. When I was unwrapping the surprise on Christmas morning, I was convinced by the fact that the parcel was in a far larger box than it should have been and my daughters urging me to handle it with the utmost care, that perhaps Kathryn had bought me some sort of pet! I have to admit that when I opened the parcel and the uke was revealed, I was quite disappointed! I thought to myself, “what the hell am I going to do with that”! But thanks to Stan Brown and my membership of the Uke Circle, I got into the playing side. The Uke Circle met twice a month (we still do!) and within a reasonably short period I was getting up on stage, first with Paul Mountain and eventually by myself. The Uke Circle at that time was packed with very good players. Lionel Owen, John Beevers, Dennis Taylor, Jack Sharp, Dennis Mitchell, Stan Brown and the incredibly talented Dickie Speake just to name a few. In those days actually paying for ukulele lessons was unheard of, certainly within the Uke Circle and given the quality of my fellow members I really should have blossomed in to a far better player than I really have. Twenty two years on the GFS committee and all the associated tasks that I took on probably did not help but I have no regrets and without a shadow of a doubt, my visits to Warrington in 1991 changed my (and Kathryn’s) life permanently and quite dramatically. Stan Brown is no longer with us and Philip now lives in Italy. Many of the friends that we have enjoyed the company of over the years have also now gone, but life within the GFS has given us so much pleasure and satisfaction. I remember thinking when I entered the Circle Foyer room of the Winter Gardens for my very first convention, that I would be in this Society for the rest of my life - I still feel exactly the same way today, 27 years later! Peter Pollard December 2018
image of John Walley

MOST IMPORT DAY IN 30 YEARS

1991 - It was without doubt, the most important year in The George Formby Society’s thirty year history since the day in 1961 when the Londoner George Wilson started the ball rolling and the Society was born. The date in 1991 when the Warrington Exhibition was launched was a Red Letter day both for the Society and for many new members who, before the internet, found it difficult to join the GFS, I tried to find the Society in the late 70’s but after contacting a couple of local libraries in West Yorkshire and getting no ideas, the trail ran dry. Over 35,000 people in a three month period visited the Warrington Exhibition. It was set up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Society. I actually visited it twice and on the second occasion I shot the video clip that can be viewed on this page. I will never forget walking through the door of the Warrington Museum and being greeted by editor of the GFS magazine, The Vellum, Stan Evans who was accompanied by a brilliant young ukulele player called Anthony Mason. I immediately joined up and bought whatever was available from Stan’s shop. Then I wandered around the exhibition, delightedly gazing at all things George Formby. Most of the archives had been supplied by the late Alan Randall who had acquired them from George Formby’s fiancée Pat Howson.

NEWSREEL FOOTAGE

I also loved viewing the newsreel footage of George which was showing constantly in a small darkened cinema section of the exhibition. Lots of photographs, taken throughout George’s life were on display, has was Beryl’s famous scrapbook, George’s silver disc for “When I’m Cleaning Windows” and numerous instruments previously owned and played by the man. In short, for a three month period a George Formby paradise was created in 1991 and combining the visit to the museum with a visit to the Formby monument completed my day. The video clip was shot on my second visit when I was accompanied by the man who would get me into playing the banjo- uke, the late Stan Brown. Stan only lived 10 minutes from me and gave me invaluable help when I got my first instrument at Christmas 1991. Stan can be seen playing at the beginning of the clip.
image of John Walley The Warrington Exhibition HOME HOME IMAGES IMAGES image of John Walley
Personal Memories of a Magical Day

Update - December 2018

Recently I watched the video and re-read my words, it made me consider all that had gone on at the time of the Warrington event and all that had happened for me since that date. The first time I visited the Warrington Exhibition was with my work colleague and best pal at Pearl Assurance, Philip Brown. As we walked around the exhibits Philip just happened to mention that his dad would enjoy the exhibition. On enquiring about Philip’s dad I was told that he was a big Formby fan, played a banjo-uke and was a member of the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle. We met up with Stan shortly after and made the trip to Warrington once again and this is when I shot the video. When I joined the GFS and the Uke Circle in ‘91, it was never my intention to play, my only interest was in George Formby, but as the year progressed from July to December, I showed the clip to all who came to our house and watched it constantly myself - so much so that my dear wife Kathryn was influenced enough to buy me an instrument as a surprise Christmas present. When I was unwrapping the surprise on Christmas morning, I was convinced by the fact that the parcel was in a far larger box than it should have been and my daughters urging me to handle it with the utmost care, that perhaps Kathryn had bought me some sort of pet! I have to admit that when I opened the parcel and the uke was revealed, I was quite disappointed! I thought to myself, “what the hell am I going to do with that”! But thanks to Stan Brown and my membership of the Uke Circle, I got into the playing side. The Uke Circle met twice a month (we still do!) and within a reasonably short period I was getting up on stage, first with Paul Mountain and eventually by myself. The Uke Circle at that time was packed with very good players. Lionel Owen, John Beevers, Dennis Taylor, Jack Sharp, Dennis Mitchell, Stan Brown and the incredibly talented Dickie Speake just to name a few. In those days actually paying for ukulele lessons was unheard of, certainly within the Uke Circle and given the quality of my fellow members I really should have blossomed in to a far better player than I really have. Twenty two years on the GFS committee and all the associated tasks that I took on probably did not help but I have no regrets and without a shadow of a doubt, my visits to Warrington in 1991 changed my (and Kathryn’s) life permanently and quite dramatically. Stan Brown is no longer with us and Philip now lives in Italy. Many of the friends that we have enjoyed the company of over the years have also now gone, but life within the GFS has given us so much pleasure and satisfaction. I remember thinking when I entered the Circle Foyer room of the Winter Gardens for my very first convention, that I would be in this Society for the rest of my life - I still feel exactly the same way today, 27 years later! Peter Pollard December 2018
image of John Walley