Leighton Buzzard singer relieved it is not the end for Barty The Singing Lamppost!

Leighton-Linslade Town Council removed the lamppost for refurbishment

By Alex Ross
Monday, 16th November 2020, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 3:21 pm

A singer has expressed her relief that the removal from a Leighton Buzzard park of a historic lamppost that inspired a musical does not spell its demise.

Barty The Singing Lamppost will be restored and returned to Mentmore Park, Leighton-Linslade Town Council has confirmed.

Fiona Harrison, a Soprano and Costume Artist, was concerned after seeing the town council attempting to remove the lamppost - which she says was the inspiration behind a musical she co-wrote in the early 2000s - from the park on Thursday (November 12).

Fiona pictured with Barty The Singing Lamppost (C) Charlotte Worrall

She said: "I was jogging in Mentmore Park today and noticed them trying to remove a lamppost.

"Interestingly this rather unassuming lamppost was the inspiration for a 1940s musical called "We'll Meet Again" I toured in back in the early noughties, which in many ways launched my professional theatre career.

"It was co-written by myself and my manager at the time Edgar Paul Spence.

"We'll Meet Again opened at The Leighton Buzzard Theatre in 2000 and we toured the show from Guernsey right up to the top end of Scotland and Orkney.

Barty The Singing Lamppost will be restored and returned to Mentmore Park

"The men were finding it difficult to remove it. It was like he didn't want to be moved.

"It is being removed by Leighton-Linslade Town Council and they are hoping to restore it, so hopefully they can, and it will be returned."

A spokesman for Leighton-Linslade Town Council said: "The Town Council is in the process of removing “Barty”, the Revo Tipton cast iron lamp post for the purposes of refurbishment.

"The plan is to give Barty a thorough overhaul and introduce him back to the park with enhanced LED Lighting.

"Barty will be placed in a more prominent location so that he can be enjoyed by more visitors to Linslade Memorial Playing Field.

"An interpretation board is also planned so that his historical importance can be celebrated and not forgotten."

Fiona added: "In 2000 Paul Spence and I had been engaged by the Leighton Buzzard theatre to produce a 1940s theatre show using all the popular sing-along tunes from the time. We wanted our show to have a story rather than just be another musical review.

"We wanted our show to be British and local to the area, so we took the decision to set the show on the platform of Stanbridge Station.

"We came up with the idea of using a lamppost when we were walking in Mentmore Park and saw this beautiful assuming Edwardian gas lamp which we named Barty.

"There are a number of songs from the 40s which mention Lampposts which we wanted to include in the show, Lilly Marlene and Leaning on a Lamppost being two of the most famous, so it seemed like the perfect fit.

"What attracted us to this lamppost was its elegant design and slender curved neck. In the musical Barty has a broken neck due to a German bombing raid which happens the night before.

"In the show Wendy fixes Barty's neck and they strike up a friendship similar to the friendship Dorothy has with her friends in The Wizard of Oz.

"Naively written in the 1940s style this musical proved extremely popular and Paul Spence and I toured in the show from 2000 to 2003. It featured all the popular songs from the 1940s."

The lamppost has now been removed from Mentmore Park.