The History Of The Laughing Gravy Tent Birmingham
Having attending the 1990 International Convention in Clearwater, Florida and the 1992 Convention in Las Vegas, John Ullah decided to start a tent in his hometown of Birmingham.
Birmingham is of the course the birthplace of Charlie Hall, who appeared in 47 films with Laurel & Hardy. Also, the origins of our society, ‘The Sons Of The Desert’, can be traced back to Birmingham; following a meeting between American student John McCabe and Stan Laurel at the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1953.
John Ullah published a letter in the Helpmates Magazine which was the start of the tent . Steve Smith and Barrie Finney replied ( Steve Smith was a television-broadcasting engineer , with an interest in film comedy and cinema theatres, and the late Barrie Finney was a graphic designer and collector of Laurel & Hardy memorabilia). In early 1993, the three met in the James Brindley Pub to discuss ideas for the new tent.
Laughing Gravy was to be the name of the tent, and the venue would be The Barn Social Club, Witton, Birmingham.
Fittingly on the 1st April 1993 the first meeting of the Laughing Gravy tent took place.
The first “meetings” of the then un-named tent were between these three people in the “James Brindly” public house, in the city centre of Birmingham. Over the weeks, the tent was given a name “Laughing Gravy” (John’s favourite L&H film). Graphics for tent publications were agreed upon, in addition promotional material and publicity appearances on local radio was organised. The style of the tent developed, in that it was agreed that it should be a “hands on” tent with meetings each and every month, with the films of the boys as the priority shown on a large screen. Finally a venue was found for the meetings, “The Barn” social club in the Witton area of the city, later a move was made to its present home of the “Bromford Club” Erdington. All then was in place, but what date to start the tent ?, in the minds of the three founders there was only one choice, it had to be “April Fool’s Day”, so on Thursday 1st. April 1993 the first meeting of the Laughing Gravy – Birmingham tent of the Sons of the Desert (Oasis # 167) took place.
This meeting was successful beyond every hope of the founders, 72 people were present to see the screening of the first film, (“Laughing Gravy”, of course) and the newly born tent had 35 members in its first month.
- An annual coach trip to Stan’s birthplace in Ulverston
- Theme nights
- Watching rare clips
- Live Entertainment
- Prize draws
- Visits to other tents and locations connected with Laurel & Hardy