The sound of the ukulele is one that has become synonymous with George Formby’s name. With his infectious smile, child-like charm and memorable performances, his association with the Fylde Coast is proudly acknowledged by local people.
Born in Wigan in 1904, George was destined for anything but the stage as his father George Formby Snr had spent years performing and announced that there was no need for ‘another fool in the family’. Upon his death in 1921 George Formby Snr was topping bills across the north west including the Fylde Coast, and in 1924 George Formby Junior decided to continue his father’s proud legacy.
At this point his act was largely reminiscent of his father’s and didn’t include his signature ukulele, but after a number of years George had created the act that would become his trademark. He meticulously crafted a combination of naivety and playful humour in an unmistakable conversational rhythm, all whilst playing on his uke.
After headlining summer shows across the country, Formby went on to pursue a career in film and from 1934-1946 he starred in over twenty feature films popular the world over. He recorded nearly two hundred of his ‘daft little songs’ (as he called them), with a further two hundred discovered after his death. During WWII Formby visited and entertained troops in many different combat zones, including Malta, Gibraltar and the Far East, stating that ‘our lads deserve all the entertainment we can give them!’ In 1946 he was presented an OBE.
It was soon after this, in 1949, that George and his wife Beryl sold their property in Singleton and moved to this house, renaming it Beryldene. He continued to perform in variety shows and pantomimes across the country before his health started to decline and he announced his retirement in 1952. However, this didn’t stop him from performing and he continued intermittently until his death in 1961.
In 2012 a blue plaque was unveiled on this site as a memorial to Formby with the George Formby Society playing his songs on their ukuleles.