The Writing of Tipperary

Dear Sir,

I have been very interested in the letter from the Rev. E. Anthony Lewis published in your last issue regarding the writing of the song “Tipperary”, and as he invited observations on the subject, he may be interested in the article which appeared in the Ashton Herald (later taken over by the reporter) in the early part of 1915 after the song had achieved such popularity. Unfortunately I have not got the date of the publication in which it appeared, but it could not have been much more than three years after Jack Judge had written the song and therefore it’s fairly fresh in the memory. As the article is rather lengthy, I have only quoted the portion relevant to Mr. Lewis’s letter:-

“During the week commencing January 29th 1912, the turns at the Grand Theatre and Hippodrome included Berzacs performing seals, Gilbert Frank Newbury and Jack Judge. The letter, who is a well known music Hall comedian and whose favourite song at that time was “How are you? How are you?” created a big hit. He had absolute confidence in his abilities to entertain the public, and how that confidence was justified has since been proved. A man with greater confidence probably never appeared behind the footlights. One day, on the 31st January 1912, while in conversation at Stalybridge with Frank Newbury (Who is well known to the patrons of the Stalybridge Theater) Jack Judge was speaking of his composing abilities, and a dialogue something like this took place:-

“I’ll bet you five shillings you cannot write and produce a song in one night” said Newbury.

“Done” said Judge, and the bargain was concluded.

“ Judge, with a few friends, adjourned to the Newmarket Inn, Corporation Street, then kept by

Mr. Goorge Lloyd, and he straightaway wrote and composed the words and music of the not take him long to do it. The song was written within a comparatively few minutes, and it was rehearsed at the Friendship Hotel, Corporation street, and actually sung by Jack Judge at the same evening’s performance at the theater during the week the comedian had been appearing in “How are You” which had captivated the audience. Having rehearsed the tune with the pianist, Mr. Horace Vernon, Judge appeared before his audience, song “Tipperary”, and while the chorus was being sung he got the assistance of the stage hands, who marched round after him carrying all sorts of kitchen utensils and the chorus went with a rollicking swing. It immediately caught on, and it was indeed a triumph for Mr. Judge.

“ The day will come when England will ring from end to end with my melodies” Dramatically declared Mr. judge to Mr. Peter Leckie, the manager of the theatre, after his successful introduction of “Tipperary”, and that his prophecy has come true, there is no doubt. The song was sung the following week by Gilbert Ferine to appreciative audiences at Ashton.

Born of Tipperary parents, Jack Judge in his early days was a fish salesman at Oldbury, Birmingham. He always had ambitions towards vaudeville and when he discarded the fish business for the stage, his mother remarked “May heaven send you sense to return to your fish marketing, Jack”, but Jack remained an optimist. If evidence were needed of his absolute confidence in himself and in “Tipperary”. It is only necessary to quote an advertising verse which he wrote in the “Encore” of February 29th 1912 as follows:-

It’s a long way to Tipperary a song that’s full of go, the wildest men will sing it in the wilds, of Borneo, The wild wild waves will roar it, you’ll find these words prove true,

Wild elephants will dance it so will monkeys in the zoo.

This week, Jack Judge is appearing at the palace Theatre, Oldham”

I know Peter Leckie, the Lessee and Manager of the Grand Theatre and Hippodrome (both the same theatre), very well indeed, also his son Jack, who appeared on the music halls as a comedian under the name of Jack Shires and whose favorite number was “My Standard Suit”, Which in the first world war was akin to our utility clothing in the last war. I frequented the theatre regulary to see melodramas, plays, variety bills and later pictures and in the cosy bar behind the dresscircle, heard Peter Lockie tell the story of “Tipperary” on many occasions and never did it vary in any detail. I have never heard the name of Harry Williams mentioned until I read it in Mr. Lewis’s letter, and can only conclude that if Feld paid him a royalty, Jack Judge must have given him an interest in the song, for I am convinced that he had nothing to do with its writing as he was not around at the time. You will observe that at the end of the article it states that “This week Jack Judge is appearing at the Palace Theatre, Oldham.” And it is more than likely the reporter who wrote it would have verified the facts with Mr. Judge and Mr. Leckie.

Your readers may be interested to know that only about 100 yeards from the Newmarket Inn, round the corner in Melbourne Street, is the Commercial Hotel, where Jack Hylton, the famous dance band leader and Impresario, spent his boyhood and early manhood, his father being the Licencee, having moved to Stalybridge from Bolton. Jack ran a concert party of which he was pianist and Bert Maiden the light comedian. I saw them perform in Stamford Park and Mottram cutting outside the Waggon & Horses. Years after, when he had become a national figure, he performed annually with his famous band on a Sunday at the Grand Theatre and Hippodrome for the White Heather Fund, an organization which provided visits to the seaside for poor children, Giving a matinee and evening performance for which he and his band gave their services and raised many thousands of pounds.

Yours

CHARLES BOOTH,

12 Grafton Street,

Ashton under Lyne.

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