Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in Ulverston, which was then in Lancashire but now lies in Cumbria, on the 16th of June 1890 the second of five children to theatre owner Arthur Jefferson and Actress Margaret Jefferson (nee Metcalf) in his Grandparents house, on a small terrace called Foundry Cottages, the name being later changed to Argyll Street.
Stan, unlike the rest of his siblings stayed in Ulverston with his grandparents until he was six, before entering education in Gainford. Stan later went to school in Bishop Auckland, Tynemouth and finally Glasgow where he completed his education at the first possible opportunity and went to work for his father in the Metropole Theatre, in the box office.
Stan however had other things in mind and when he was 16 he approached Mr Albert. E. Pickard for a ‘try on’ in his theatre / side show / museum. Stan got a try and as he looked out at the audience on that first night saw his dad at the back of the hall.
The act went down reasonably well and Stan was on top of the world. Until the realisation hit him, he was going to have to face his father who wanted Stan to go into theatre management. ‘A. J.’, as it turned out, whilst not exactly encouraging was not as set against the idea as Stan had thought and, in 1907 Stan entered the first of a number of travelling groups at the grand salary of one pound a week.
Later, Stan joined Fred Karno’s travelling performers (known to some as Fred Karno’s Barmy army) as a bit player and eventually understudy to Charlie Chaplin. In 1910 after successful tours all over Britain the troupe went to America. It was here that Stan, after leaving the group started to write his own material and, along with some other actors who had left with him started touring with his own acts.
Around this time Stan had started to use his own name, shortened to Stan Jefferson, which he noticed had thirteen letters in it. Being mildly superstitious he decided to change his last name to Laurel.
In 1917 Stan was offered a movie to be called Nuts in May, which led to a number of other films for Universal until a reorganisation meant that his contract was not renewed, forcing him back to the stage until he got the opportunity to work with Hal Roach. Stan acted in, wrote gags for, and directed many films for roach, including The Lucky Dog in around 1920 in which he co-starred with Oliver Hardy.
Laurel and Hardy later became a team and worked with each other until 1950 making over one hundred films and hundreds of thousands of people laugh.
History of the Museum
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 Moritz 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.
The World Famous Laurel and Hardy Museum
The Roxy Cinema
Tel: 01229 582292
The entrance is actually on County Road (A590). If you are stood outside the entrance to the Roxy Cinema, head towards the main road and turn left. You’ll find the museum entrance on your left after walking about 30 yards.
The New Laurel and Hardy Museum
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 on the link at the top of this page, become our friend on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more info on what we’re up to.
For the online shop go HERE
Prices & Opening Hours
Family Ticket: £9.00 (Family Ticket consists of Two Adults and up to Three Children U16)
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
7 Days per week Feb – Dec
Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day – Open Thurs, Sat and Sun through Jan
By Car – Turn off the M6 at Junction 36, Follow signs to Barrow In Furness and keep on the A590, which will bring you to Ulverston. The entrance of the museum is situated on the A590.
By Train – Ulverston has trains coming in from Manchester, Lancaster, Preston and Barrow in Furness.
From the station it’s a 10 minute walk, all you do is turn left out of the station road, turn right at the traffic lights and keep walking and we are on the left.
Local Buses – There are several local services from Kendal, Barrow In Furness, Coniston and other local towns.
The bus station is less than 5 minutes walk, head towards the Traffic lights turn right and we are there on the left side of the road.
Parking – There is ample parking in Ulverston town centre with several Pay and Display car parks all within 5 minutes walk. Parking on the street is usually limited to 1 hour unless you have a parking permit (local residents only).