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Laurel & Hardy Come to Peterborough (1952)

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Slapstick comedy legends Laurel & Hardy, stars of the silver screen since the early 1920s, visited the UK in 1952 for a nationwide theatre tour of their new sketch “A Spot of Trouble” and started off that tour with a visit to Peterborough where they played at the Embassy Theatre on Broadway.

Despite being at the twilight stage of their careers, the duo’s popularity in the UK remained such that every night of the tour was sold out well in advance including the full two weeks of dates at the Embassy, starting on 25th February 1952, which broke all box office records at the venue.

The duo along with their wives arrived in the UK aboard the Queen Mary liner after a four day journey from the States that docked at Southampton (see video). After travelling up to Peterborough by train, they were met at Peterborough North station by the Embassy manager Jack Bancroft backed by a large crowd of enthusiastic fans. The party were then escorted across the road to their accommodation for the fortnight at the Great Northern Hotel.

The hugely successful tour ended at the back end of September 1952 but the duo returned to the UK the following year to tour “Birds of a Feather” but the rapidly declining health of Oliver Hardy saw the duo play their last ever stage show in Plymouth before returning home where Hardy passed away in 1957 after a series of heart attacks.

Embassy manager Jack Bancroft (left) greets the duo on arrival at Peterborough North station
Ticket stub from 8th March 1952
Laurel and Hardy outside the Embassy Theatre
Local competition winners get to meet the duo
Programme for the Embassy shows
Laurel and Hardy with their wives in a British pub ….. not Peterborough but Shrewsbury, later on the tour !