Tony Hancock - the tragic funny man
was the first home in Bournemouth of a man who came to be a great
comic genius of the 1950's and 60's - and whose name still lives
on for the way he captured a very specific kind of Englishness.
Tony Hancock was born in Birmingham in 1924, the
son of comedian and entertainer John Hancock.
His family came to Bournemouth for a holiday and
liked it so much that in 1927 they bought the Mayo Hygienic Laundry
in Wynyard Road, Winton.
You wont find Wynyard Road on the map because it
was subsequently renamed Strouden Road.
The former Hancock home became 144 Strouden Road
until it was demolished relatively recently.
The Hancocks only lived in the house for a year
before moving again to take over the Railway Hotel (just next
to the railway bridge) in Holdenhurst Road.
The old Hancock home was between these two houses.
Avon Road Social Club - scene of Hancock's first professional
The time in Winton may not have a particularly happy
By their first Christmas in the Wynward Road laundry,
Tony had developed rickets - an illness which is often associated
with undernourishment. It left him with a stoop for the rest of
Tony's father died of cancer in 1935 at the Royal
Victoria Hospital, Boscombe.
His mother subsequently remarried and she and her
new husband continued in the hotel business, running among others
the Talbot in Wimborne Road, the Marsham court, and the Harbour
The late 1930's found Tony already trying to follow
in his father's footsteps as an entertainer. In 1939 he failed
an audition for Willie Cave's Revels - a variety show that performed
on Bournemouth beach.
He took a commercial skills course at Bournemouth
college in the autumn, then worked briefly for a tailor and also
for the Civil Service.
In 1940 he made his first professional appearance
as a comedian at the Avon Road Social Club, but he was not an
Later in that year he appeared, with similar results
at at the hall of the Church of the Sacred Heart, in Richmond
In the Summer of 1941, after working as a potman
at the Pembroke Hotel, he joined George Fairweather's "Black
Dominoes" concert party, performing at Boscombe Hippodrome
and at local army bases
He was called up and joined the RAF in 1942, spending
most of the war performing with Ralph Reader's Gang Shows.
The late 1940's were dotted with music hall, cabaret
and pantomime appearances.
his career as a comedian really took off in the 1950's with the
popular radio show "Educating Archie" and then with
his own show "Hancock's Half Hour".
Both were listened to and enjoyed by millions.
With a subsequent string of films, television and
radio programmes he was one of the funniest and most successful
personalities of his generation.
But success did not bring him happiness.
Dogged by alcohol and depression he tragically ended
his own life in 1968.