Eric Morecambe

Harpenden resident from 1960-1984

By Rosemary Ross

Photo:Eric Morecambe

Eric Morecambe

The official website of Morecambe & Wise

Harpenden is proud of the fact that Eric Morecambe made his home here.  The following extracts from the Wikipedia pages on Eric, give just a brief outline of his association with our town.  You may have memories that you would like to share, by adding comments.

“John Eric Bartholomew OBE (14 May 1926 – 28 May 1984), known by his stage name Eric Morecambe, was an English comedien who together with Ernie Wise formed the award-winning double act ‘Morecambe & Wise’. The partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death of a heart attack in 1984. Eric took his stage name from his home town, the seaside resort of Morecambe.

“He is best remembered for the television series The Morecambe & Wise Show, which for some of its Christmas episodes gained UK viewing figures of over twenty-eight million people.

Photo:Plaque in foyer of Harpenden Public Halls

Plaque in foyer of Harpenden Public Halls

Rosemary Ross

Photo:Presentation of an oil painting by Anthony Rice, October 1970

Presentation of an oil painting by Anthony Rice, October 1970

Harpenden, The Second Selection, compiled by Eric Brandreth, 1997

"In the English town of Harpenden in Hertfordshire where Morecambe and his family lived from the 1960s until his death, the public concert hall is named after him, with a portrait of Morecambe hanging in the foyer. Eric often referred to Harpenden in his comedy, with a band once appearing on the show named The Harpenden Hot-Shots and in a Casanova sketch he introduced himself as Lord Eric, Fourth Duke of Harpenden - and certain parts of Birkenhead! 

 

 

“Eric Morecambe married Joan Bartlett in 1952. They had three children: Gail (born 1953); Gary (born 1956) and Steven (born 1969 and adopted in 1973). In his leisure time, Eric was a keen birdwatcher, and the statue of him at Morecambe shows him wearing his binoculars.”  Joan has continued to take an active part in the life of the town since Eric’s untimely death.

Photo:The funeral serivce on 4 June 1984 was relayed to the crowd gathered on Church Green

The funeral serivce on 4 June 1984 was relayed to the crowd gathered on Church Green

Harpenden, The Second Selection, compiled by Eric Brandreth, 1997

To mark the 75th anniversary of Eric and Ernie's debut performance as a double act, Graham Ibbeson designed a bronzed sculture of the pair; funded by donations, it stands in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Eric Morecambe' page

BBC News website 28 September 2016

This page was added by Rosemary Ross on 22/03/2011.
Comments about this page

As well as being a keen birdwatcher Eric was also a keen amateur photographer and together with Gordon Beningfield and myself, would often spend hours walking around the countryside near Harpenden taking photographs while Gordon made many of the sketches which would later grace the pages of some of the many books he illustrated.

By John Olley
On 27/04/2011

Eric's TV persona wasn't too different to his local one. He would sometimes be seen wearing his spectacles upside down and because he was a genuinely funny person, laughs ensued wherever he trod. He was a frequent visitor to Thorn The Tobacconist in the High Street for pipe supplies. His daughter, Gail, and I were at St George's School at the same time and come Saturday lunchtime (we used to do Saturdays until 1970-something) there would be Eric in a silver blue Jensen Interceptor waiting to whisk Gail home.

By Peter Thomas
On 05/08/2011

Eric and his wife parked their Rolls or maybe a Bentley near the old Barclays Bank building on the High Street. I was about 16 or 17 ( now 67 ) and we lived in Rothamsted Avenue (No 22). He got out, did a "Morecambe" jiggle dance all around the car to let his wife out. It was very funny, but you had to be there, as they say. Lovely bloke.

By Graham Forsaith
On 14/05/2013

I've a photo of myself standing by his statue in Morecambe. "Up the Hatters!"

By deborah collins
On 01/10/2013

My mother Freda Wyborn came to know Eric through his support for local charities. He was said to be one of those performers who could never switch off. It could be difficult at times to do your shopping on one of the days that he had been sent to collect the groceries. Upon his arrival, Bentleys the grocers would turn into a Morecombe & Wise show, and serious business would be suspended.

By John Wyborn
On 22/10/2013

The Harpenden Corps of Drums were lucky enough to have Eric Morcambe as their Honorary President from the late 1970s until his death.

By John Halsey
On 05/11/2013

Eric Morecombe (Bartholomew) and his wife were customers in my father's shop, C Smith, Shoe repairs at 3 Station Road (see the last photo on the page about the Munt family, ed). In 1961 I began serving in the shop on Saturdays and often served either Eric or his wife as they brought their shoes to be repaired by my Dad. He looked no different to his stage persona when I served him. A funny man.

By Di Castle
On 27/01/2015

I live near Blackpool and I enjoy finding out about various places connected with it; there is a lot of talk about Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise with the new statue in Blackpool. I have managed to track down others in the area including Jim Bowen and his Bullseye which we regularly watch.

So what brings me to Harpenden?

Well, I wasn't aware of the connection Harpenden has with Eric Morecambe's family, and as I visit that way (Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, etc) I will be searching for more information as it is not just who they are but the landmarks and memories the areas hold which I am sure I will find interesting too. I shall be in the area again in the near future so I now have a new factor for when I visit the area.

I shall be using this website to build my knowledge of Eric to get a better understanding of him. I am glad I have found a reliable source and shall be looking into it as it will give me the knowledge I need about both Morecambe and Wise. Out of everyone I have spoken to, nobody has pointed me to Harpenden.

I shall also be finding out more about Ernie too but for the moment Eric takes priority.

By John R Jones
On 08/11/2016

Together with my husband we arranged a day of fun at The Wilbury Hotel Letchworth for the Muscular Distrophy charity for which so many customers collected. Eric Morecombe with his wife Joan came along to collect the cheque on behalf of the charity - what a lovely man. Our pleasure to have met him and Joan. The year was 1976.

By Irene Waters
On 01/11/2016

I remember in 1980 when I was 9 years old going to see the opening ceremony of FineFare in Southdown for which Eric Morecambe was cutting the ribbon. I went by myself and felt totally privileged to be in the front and seeing him up close but also struck by how tall he was. 

By Tammy Donoghue
On 15/11/2016

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