Harry Lauder

Harry Lauder was born on 4th August, 1870 at 3 Bridge Street, Portobello, near Edinburgh. He was the eldest of 8 children and when he was 12 years old the family moved to Arbroath after his father's death. He started to work in a local mill and it was here that he started to sing.

Two years later the family moved again, this time to Lanarkshire and Harry started work in a pit. He entered several singing competitions and started entertaining on a part time basis. He soon joined a concert party and toured Scotland. Before long, violinist Mackenzie-Murdoch and Harry formed their own touring company.

In 1898 he appeared at the Argyle Theatre, Birkenhead, as an Irish comedian. The act was extremely successful and two years later he had his first engagement in London at Gatti's Music Hall. He was now making a name for himself and in 1907 he appeared in New York on what was to be the first of 22 tours there.

He appeared as many characters in the variety theatres but he is best known as the small Scottish comedian wth the twisted walking stick. His pantomime appearences were very popular and it was in pantomime that he began to sing his popular songs. In his first pantomime, 'Aladdin' at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow he played Roderick McSwankey and first sang 'I love a lassie' which was a great hit. He first sang 'Roamin in the gloamin' in 'Red Riding Hood' in 1910.

At the outbreak of the First World War he was touring in America and actively encouraged America to enter the war. In 1916 he was in a review called 'Three Cheers' at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. On 1st January 1817 he received a telegram informing him that his son John had been killed in the war. After this tragedy he wanted to get involved in war work and was given permission to entertain the Scottish troops that were fighting in Europe. He used to sing to the troups on the front-line accompanied by a small piano that was especially built for the purpose. He also had his own recruiting band and encouraged the young to join-up. During the remainder of the war he recruited over 12,000 men. In September 1917 he founded the Harry Lauder Million Pound Fund for the injured and his war work he was made a knight of the British Empire in 1919.

His last appearance was in the Gorbals in 1947. He died in 1950.