The Museum started life as one man’s collection stemming from his lifelong love of ‘the boys’. Starting out as a few scrapbooks of photos, the collection grew over time until it filled one small room with pictures covering all the walls and even the ceiling.
As the collection grew, Bill Cubin researched more about the lives of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and found that Stan had not been born in North Shields, as was widely thought at the time, but his grandparent’s house in Ulverston. In 1976, as mayor of the town, Bill uncovered the proof he was looking for, a birth certificate stating that Arthur Stanley Jefferson (Stan changed his name in 1931) was born in Foundry Cottages, now named Argyll Street.
The collection kept growing and Bill found others who shared his interest, resulting in the occasional private showing. These proved popular and he opened his quirky little room up more and more until an official opening was arranged in 1983, the ribbon being cut by Jeffrey Holland of Hi-Dee-HI fame. While the collection grew, the space didn’t until 1992 when Nico Morits won a Dutch TV quiz and donated his winnings which enabled the museum to open an extension, this time securing Bella Emberg from the then popular Russ Abbott show. Bill died in 1997 but the museum continued, being run first by his daughter Marion and now his grandson Mark.
After many happy years at our old site, the museum was starting to get over crowded and, due to the hobbyist way it had been started, some of the pictures were beginning to look past their best so it was decided that a new location should be sought. After much deliberation the Roxy cinema complex was decided on as our new site.
Opened on the 19th of April 2009 to coincide with the unveiling of the statue in the town centre, there’s still plenty to read; now presented in a much more accessible way for the casual fan, while still retaining plenty of depth for your favourite Son of the Desert. The cinema is still there, now with 15 seats but no chance of banging your head on the ceiling! We’re actually on the stage of the Roxy, so being on stage in a 1930s period cinema feels like a great place to be. The museum is still a work in progress and we hope to be adding new things all the time, see our home page, become our friend on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more info on what we’re up to.
Marion is the owner of the museum and Bill Cubin’s daughter, after his death Marion kept the museum going when it would have otherwise closed. Ill health keeps her from the day to stuff but she is behind the scenes and always available to provide guidance. Her knowledge is invaluable to the rest of the team.
Alan Jordan visited the museum over 30 years ago as he had always loved the comedy of Laurel and Hardy, Bill asked him to watch the shop for half an hour and loved chatting to people about his favourite comedy team so much he has never left. Without him the museum would be a much less inviting and informative place to visit. He loves it so much we don’t even pay him!
Bill’s oldest grandson Mark has worked in the museum for most of his life. First helping out in the school holidays and now managing the museum full time, one of Mark’s earliest memories is of watching The Flying Elephants on his granddad’s old cine projector.
Our newest member Colin joined us as we moved from our old site to the new one; he enjoys meeting the varied people who visit us and is working his way through the films.