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Sir Harry Lauder
Harry Lauder.png
Background information
Birth name(s): Henry Lauder
Date of birth 4 August 1870(1870-08-04)
Birth location Portobello, Edinburgh
Date of death 26 February 1950 (aged 79)
Death location Strathaven, Lanarkshire
Genre(s) Music hall comedian & singer
Spouse(s) Anne Vallance; 1 son (predeceased by both)

Sir Henry Lauder (4 August 1870 - 26 February 1950), known professionally as Harry Lauder, was a notable Scottish entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!"[1][2]

Contents

Early life

Henry Lauder was born at Portobello, Edinburgh, in the home of his maternal grandfather, Henry McLennan. His father was John Currie Lauder, descended from the Lauders of The Bass, and his mother was Isabella Urquhart MacLeod McLennan, born in Arbroath to a family from the Black Isle. At the time, his father was also living in Portobello.

John Lauder moved to Newbold, Derbyshire, in 1882 to take up a job designing china. After only a short time in residence there, he died of pneumonia, and his widow Isabella moved to her brother's home in Arbroath with her five sons and two daughters. She was determined to continue Harry's education (it being then customary for children to find employment at the age of 11 or 12), and he worked part-time at the local flax mill until he was 16 in order to qualify to attend the school there.

On 19 June 1891, Harry married Ann Vallance, the daughter of a colliery manager at Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, attended by his brother Matthew as best man. A year later, Harry served as best man at Matthew's wedding to Ann's sister, Catherine.

Entertainer

Lauder launched his career at the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall, Glasgow.

pre WW1 toy bus carries an advert for Lauder.

Lauder is said to have first appeared in his music-hall career as an Irish comedian. He toured the world extensively during his forty-year career, including 22 trips to the United States and several to Australia, to which his brother John had emigrated. He was, at one time, the highest-paid performer in the world, making the equivalent of £12,700 a night plus expenses,[3] and was the first British performer to sell more than a million records. Lauder's appeal was not limited to popular tastes; he was a favourite of King Edward VII and a friend of Sir Thomas Lipton, the tea merchant.

Lauder is perhaps most well-known for his performances in Highland regalia (Kilt, Sporran, Tam o'shanter and twisted walking stick) and singing songs with a Scottish theme (Roamin' in the Gloamin' etc.). This image was possibly a major reason for his popularity abroad with Scottish emigres.

When World War I broke out, Lauder was in Melbourne on one of his Australian tours. During the war, he led successful fundraising efforts for war charities, organised a tour of music halls in 1915 for recruitment purposes, and entertained the troops under enemy fire in France. He suffered personal tragedy during the war, when his only son, John (1891–1916), a captain in the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on 28 December 1916 at Poiziers.[4] Harry wrote the song "Keep Right on to the End of the Road" in the wake of John's death, and would memorialize his son, who was buried in France, in the little Lauder cemetery in Glenbranter. For his services during the war, Lauder was knighted in January 1919.

Winston Churchill stated that Lauder, "...by his inspiring songs and valiant life, rendered measureless service to the Scottish race and to the British Empire." [5]

His works

Music album.jpg

Sir Harry wrote most of his own songs, favourites of which were "Roamin' in the Gloamin", "I Love a Lassie", "A Wee Deoch-an-Doris", and "Keep Right on to the End of the Road", which is used by Birmingham City Football Club as their club anthem.

He starred in three British films: Huntingtower (1928), Auld Lang Syne (1929) and The End of the Road (1936). He also appeared in a test film for the Photokinema sound-on-disc process in 1921. This film is part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive collection, however, the disc is missing.

He also wrote a number of books which ran into several editions, including Harry Lauder at Home and on Tour (1912), A Minstrel in France (1918), Between You and Me (1919), Roamin’ in the Gloamin’ (1928 autobiography), My Best Scotch Stories (1929), Wee Drappies (1931) and Ticklin’ Talks (circa 1932).

Later years

Sir Harry's wife died on 31 July 1927 and was buried next to her son's memorial at 'Glenbranter', Argyll. His niece, Margaret (Greta) Lauder, M.B.E., (1900–1966), moved in with him at his home, 'Laudervale' (outside Dunoon), and became his constant companion in later years.

Sir Harry's final retirement was announced in 1935. However, he again entertained troops during World War II, despite his age, and made wireless broadcasts with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He also appeared immediately after the war to thank the crews of American food relief ships docking at Glasgow. His last years were spent in his home of Lauder Ha' at Strathaven, where he died in February 1950, aged 79.

As might be expected, his funeral was widely reported. One of the chief mourners was the Duke of Hamilton, who led the funeral procession and read the lesson. Unexpectedly, Sir Harry was interred with his mother and brother George at Bent Cemetery, Hamilton, rather than at 'Glenbranter'.

After death

Part of Lauder Ha', from the west, at the time of its sale, 1967

The family held on to Lauder Ha' until the late 1960s, when death duties forced its sale.

Sir Harry Lauder is frequently mentioned today in a wide variety of programmes, and the Scottish education authorities encourage Scottish dancing to some of his tunes.

Road sign.jpg

When the A199 Portobello bypass was opened, it was named the "Sir Harry Lauder Road".[6]

On 28 July 1987] the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, The Rt. Hon. John McKay, CBE, hosted a luncheon at the Edinburgh City Chambers, to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the granting of the Freedom of the City to Sir Harry Lauder, attended by family representative Gregory Lauder-Frost, who, on 4 August 2001, formally opened the new Sir Harry Lauder Memorial Garden at Portobello Town Hall,[7] and was the principal commentator throughout the Saltire/BBC2 TV (Scotland) documentary entitled Something About Harry screened on 30 November 2005. On 29 September 2007, Lauder-Frost as guest-of-honour rededicated for another century the Burslem Golf Course & Club at Stoke-on-Trent, which had been formally opened on the same day in 1907 by Harry Lauder.[8]

In the 1990s, samples of recordings of Lauder were used on two tracks recorded by the Scottish folk/dance music artist Martyn Bennett.

An ornamental cultivar of Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) has become known as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corkscrew Hazel. It was noticed growing as part of a hedge in the 1800s and is now propagated by grafting. It gains this name from the fact Lauder regularly appeared with a crooked walking stick.

The song "Dearie" includes a reference to Harry Lauder.

Further reading

For further reading see the various books by Sir Harry Lauder, including

  • Roamin' in the Gloamin (Autobiography) by Sir Harry Lauder, (London, 1928), reprinted without the photos, London, 1976, (ISBN 0-7158-1176-2)

References

  1. ^ Sir Harry Lauder: 1870-1950
  2. ^ "Sir Harry Lauder". Time Magazine. 1930-03-10. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,752371,00.html?promoid=googlep. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  3. ^ "Harry Lauder, coming to a ringtone near you". The Sunday Times. 2005-07-24. 
  4. ^ CWGC entry
  5. ^ Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War - Volume III, p.530
  6. ^ "List of Public Roads Q - Z". http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/Attachments/Internet/Transport/Motor_vehicles_roads_and_parking/Roads_and_highways/List_of_Public_Roads%20Q%20-%20Z%20(1Nov06).pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  7. ^ The Portobello Reporter, Autumn 2001 edition
  8. ^ The Sentinel (Stoke-on-Trent) (newspaper), Stoke-on-Trent, 4 October 2007, p. 47 (includes photo).

Further reading

External links

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