Well, what an exciting few days we’ve had at the Museum!
It started with a call from the North West Evening Mail asking what I thought about the leaflet which had just been released claiming that Stan Laurel had been born in Bishop Auckland. I knew nothing about it at the time so I was shocked, and a bit disappointed. Years ago, when not much was known about Stan, it was often presumed that he had been born in the North East. Stan’s dad A.J. was managing theatres in the area, Stan had been baptised in Bishop Auckland and had gone to school in the area so in peoples’ minds it followed that he was born there. No one had taken the time to research it properly. That was until Bill Cubin came along. Bill founded the museum and was mayor of Ulverston. He unearthed a birth certificate stating that Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in Foundry Cottages, Ulverston, Lancashire.
When I had talked to the reporter from the local paper about the story and heard what had happened with the leaflet I decided not to take offense. Mistakes do happen, (and they happen frequently at the museum!) and this seemed like a genuine one. I told the reporter how I felt and thought nothing more about it. The next day I answered the phone to BBC Radio Newcastle who wanted an interview about my thoughts on the error. I told them what I thought, again; mistakes happen, Stan was definitely born in Ulverston and while it was a shame that no one had picked up on the mistake we’ll let them off this time.
To be honest, I thought it was all good fun. An interview in the local paper, a quick quote on a local news show and everything would die down. Then North West Tonight called, a film crew wanted to come to the museum to film a short piece on the story for the news that evening. Great stuff, all publicity is good publicity as the saying goes. We did our little bit for the news and then yet another radio interview wanted my thoughts for a variety of local BBC news programs.
I had a great few days talking about Stan’s life in Ulverston, the museum got a bit of publicity and hopefully people now know the role of his upbringing in Bishop Auckland. Now it’s back to business as usuall at the museum, there’s plenty of stuff to do for next year and I’ll have to put my media career behind me for now. Those toilets won’t clean themselves!