Ukuleles played by Lancashire comedy hero to go under the hammer for £19k

George Formby
George Formby
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Two ukuleles played by England's best-loved entertainer of the 1930s and 40s are going under the hammer.

The instruments were owned by George Formby, who lived in Fairhaven for eight years before his untimely death from a heart attack in 1961. They are expected to sell for around £19,000.

One featured in Formby's first film Boots! Boots!, and was bought for just £8 at an auction at the comedian's Inner Promenade home, called Beryldene, in 1961.

The other, bought by collector George Johnson from the star's wife Beryl, used by Formby on stage.

The instrument used on stage has been given a guide price of £10,000 to £12,000, while the film item has been estimated at £5,000 to £7,000.

Other vintage ukuleles and Formby memorabilia, including 78 records, videos, cassettes, magazines and sheet music, will also be sold at an auction at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbyshire, on March 19.

Claire Howell, music memorabilia expert at Derbyshire-based auctioneers Hansons, said: "This collection is extraordinary.

"Mr Johnson must have been one of George Formby's biggest fans, if not the biggest.

"To own two of his ukuleles and correspondence with his wife shows he went the extra mile to celebrate his admiration for one of Britain's biggest stars.

"The ukulele used on stage was sold to him by Beryl Formby in 1952 while the instrument used in the film Boots! Boots! was purchased for £8 in 1961 from a woman who bought it at the famous Beryldene auction that same year."

Mr Johnson left the George Formby treasures to his son, Mike, and daughter, Brenda Robson.

Mike said: "The collection's been gathering dust under beds and on top of wardrobes.

"Looking at pictures of dad playing his Formby ukuleles and seeing how much pleasure it brought him, made us realise how much we'd love to see that happen again."

George Formby was born in Wigan in 1904 and rose to fame in the 1920s after purchasing a ukulele and marrying fellow performer Beryl Ingham, who transformed his act. He spent the Second World War entertaining troops on the battlefield.

He died in Preston in 1961 aged just 56. A public auction was held for the contents of Formby's Fairhaven house, which took place over three days in June. The house was bought by a Mrs Murray for £9,000. A Gibson banjolele in a case went for £130. Two pressure cookers, 22 pans and oven dishes fetched £13 10s, the kitchen scales £2 5s and two kettles £2 12s. The garden hammock in which George and Beryl spent much of their time in during the summer sold for £47.