Eric Morecambe

Harpenden resident from 1960-1984

Eric Morecambe

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.

Presentation of an oil painting by George Anthony Roe, October 1970

“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.

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

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.

Comments about this page

  • In December 2013 Ray Ganderton wrote: “I was born in Harpenden and set-up home there after getting married in 1973. My second house was at 13 Roundwood Lane. There was a short stretch of off-road parking, in front, which ran from number 1 to number 19. One Sunday afternoon I happened to glance out of the front room window and saw a buff-coloured Rolls Royce, parking alongside my garden wall. It was Eric and his wife. They were close friends of the Hamersley family (well known antiques dealers) who lived at number 12 but they could not accommodate his Rolls in their driveway.” 

    By Rosemary Ross (18/06/2021)
  • I lived with my family in Harpenden from the age of 8 and went to school at Woodend Junior and Roundwood Senior schools. We had an early Betamax video recorder, and would rent films. It was during a trip to the video rental shop when I became lucky enough to meet Mr Bartholomew, for the first time. The video rental shop was opposite the post office, I was with my father, and around 12 years old. We were behind Eric in the queue. He was dressed in a fawn rain coat and flat hat and may have been with his son, Gary, who seemed around 15. On seeing me he produced a brown paper bag and did that trick which many of us have seen before, where he throws an imaginary object into the air and catches it in the bag. He also wiggled his glasses and ruffled my hair. I was with my father, the man I love most in my life, whilst being made to feel like the most important boy in the world by the only man, not from my family, I have ever truly admired. I will never forget this moment. He was lovely and although I am sure I didn’t deserve it, he was prepared to do his job, just for me, or so it seemed. I guess we all feel like this when we watch him and I can only thank his family for the gift and hardship of sharing him the way they did and had to. Thank you, all of you.    

    By Andrew Stearn (28/05/2018)
  • A correction regarding the presentation of the oil painting, the name of the artist is Anthony Roe (full name George Anthony Roe, my father). It was a very pleasant surprise to see this photograph.

    Ed. many thanks for pointing out this error – we have made the correction to the caption below the photograph. The caption is correct in Eric Brandreth’s book.

    By David Roe (28/04/2017)
  • 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 (12/11/2016)
  • 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 (26/10/2016)
  • 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 (15/10/2016)
  • 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 (23/01/2015)
  • 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 (24/10/2013)
  • 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 (16/10/2013)
  • I’ve a photo of myself standing by his statue in Morecambe. “Up the Hatters!”

    By deborah collins (29/08/2013)
  • 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 (14/05/2013)
  • 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 (02/08/2011)
  • 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 (04/04/2011)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *