Laurel and Hardy

Stan Laurel to be commemorated with plaque in Glasgow

COMEDY legend Stan Laurel is to be commemorated with a plaque at the Glasgow tenement building where he spent his childhood, it has been announced.

The comic – real name Arthur Stanley Jefferson – was born in the north of England but moved to Scotland’s biggest city when he was a boy.

Famously, he made his stage debut in Glasgow at just 16 and went on to become a household name as one half of Hollywood comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

The memorial plaque will be mounted on the wall of the tenement block at 17 Craigmillar Road in Battlefield, on the south side of the city.

Laurel is one of 12 significant historic figures being honoured by Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) commemorative plaque scheme, which celebrates the work of well-known personalities on the buildings where they lived or worked. 

Head of grants at HES, Martin Fairley, said yesterday [TUE]: “The idea of the scheme is to allow the public to tell us which historic figures deserve to be celebrated and commemorated.

“By installing a plaque on a building closely associated with that person we hope to emphasise the social and human element of local architecture. After all, a building can have a great influence on the character of the person who lived or worked there. 

A colour photo of Laurel and Hardy
Laurel always held a strong affinity with Glasgow

“This latest batch of nominations provides some fine examples of that, as well as some prominent figures, from Stan Laurel, to Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Born, famous biographer James Boswell, and medical pioneer Dr Flora Murray, to name just a few.” 

Laurel was born in Ulverston, Cumbria, on June 16, 1890 and moved to Scotland when his father, also Arthur Jefferson, was offered at job at the Metropole Theatre in Glasgow. Laurel completed his education at Rutherglen Academy and, on leaving school, joined his father working in the theatre’s box office. 

Stan Laurel with a dog
The plaque with be placed in Battlefield, South Glasgow

But the young comic was destined for bigger and better things and, at the age of 16, made his stage debut at the city’s Britannia Panopticon, the world’s oldest music hall, after convicing the owner to give him a slot on amateur night.

His song-and-gag routine got a mixed reception from the notoriously difficult audience but the venue remains something of a mecca for Laurel and Hardy fans to this day. 

Stan Laurel pulling a face
He was best known for his part in the duo Laurel and Hardy

Although his career took him all over the world, Laurel retained a strong affinity with Glasgow and when the duo arrived on tour in the city, huge crowds gathered in the street to see the pair. Laurel died on February 23, 1965 in Santa Monica, California, aged 74. 

Author Neil Munro, best-known for his comic creation Para Handy, Sarah Siddons Mair, an early 20th century campaigner for women’s education and suffrage, and engineer Sir Nigel Gresley, who created many of Scotland’s railway networks, are among those to also have been commemorated with a plaque. 

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