Laurel and Hardy fan group grows in Sunderland

After the release of the new film Stan and Ollie, a Laurel and Hardy fan club has revived in Sunderland after being previously popular in the 1980s and 1990s.

The last meeting, held on Tuesday, February 12 at the Boars Head in Sunderland, was a huge success and saw a turn-out of more than 40 people, with some even travelling from Bishop Auckland and Carlisle.

Mike Jones (Grand Sheik of Beau Chumps Tent of Sunderland), and George Cullen (Grand Sheik of Them Thar Hills Tent of Carlisle)

Mike Jones, Grand Sheik of the Beau Chumps Tent in Sunderland, said: “Primarily, the whole idea behind this society is to show the films of Laurel and Hardy, and to enjoy, laugh, and even criticise them.”

“In the 1980s we started the Beau Chumps Tent in Sunderland, which ran until the early 90s and by that time there was no one able to take it over so we kind of went into rest. That rest lasted until January of this year, leaving around a 27 year gap. I hadn’t intended to restart it until next year.”

George Cullen, Grand Sheik of the Carlisle Tent, travelled from Cumbria to attend the inaugural meeting. He said: “As the years have gone on, more tents have been brought back up and it was recently that I had seen that the Sunderland tent had come up so we thought that it would be a good idea to come up and support them in reviving their tents.”

“A friend put on a bulletin that I was interested in starting up a group in Carlisle, so Melvin, who used to run it in the 1980s and 1990s, then got in touch with me and helped me set ours up around 2 years ago back in 2017.”

At the end of the night, George said: “It was a great night; everybody was laughing away, which is pretty much all you ask for. We just hope that, for the future of these tents, people carry on coming regularly to keep it strong. I’d definitely come back again from Carlisle, and will hopefully bring more people along with me next time.”

Meetings will be held monthly at the Boars Head, with the next one being on Wednesday March 13th, 2019.

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  1. Hello Samantha, Just picked up on the article you wrote about the Sunderland Sons of the Desert meeting from a piece Mike jones has circulated. Am I right in thinking that you are interested in film history? If so are you aware that a film called ‘Turn of the Tide’ which was filmed around Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay in 1934/35 and was the cause of the founding of a major British studio? It was the first feature film to be made by J. Arthur Rank, who up until then had only made religious short films. He was very dissatisfied with the studio facilities he was given at Elstree; and because of his enthusiasm for continued film-making, decided to have his own studios. So he joined with a man called Henry Boot, and together they founded and built Pinewood Studios.

  2. What a lovely article good to see the Laurel and Hardy still being appreciated in 2019. A well written article.

  3. Thanks so much to Samantha for coming to the meeting and then writing this brilliant article. The tent really is going sting and around 35 – including Samantha – came to the March meeting. The next get together at the Boars Head is Wednesday April 10th at 730pm. All are welcome and are guaranteed a laughter filled evening.

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