inspiration for one of George Formby’s most famous songs?
Charlotte Ashurst certainly thinks so. The man in the picture is her dad Edward Taylor and he was a window cleaner.
In the 1930s he and colleagues including George Bottomley and Norman Valentine were working at the Wigan Hippodrome on a Sunday morning while Formby was there rehearsing for a show.
He wandered over to the group and they got talking about how Wigan had changed since George was a lad living in Westminster Street, Scholes, and then about the men’s job.
Mrs Ashurst, a grandmother from Beech Hill Lane, Beech Hill, said: “My dad said that George was asking them about window-cleaning and they joked about the sort of things they could see through windows when they were up a ladder! In those days most people only had lace busybody curtains.
“A short time later and George brought out his song When I’m Cleaning Windows. When we first heard it we said ‘you inspired that.'”
Another topic of that conversation 70 years ago centred on the old Chinese laundry called Moy-Toy’s which used to be at the bottom of Scholes, not far from its junction with Wellington Street.
Mrs Ashurst said: “It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a few other of George Formby’s hits came from that same chance conversation at the Hippodrome. Maybe he had Moy-Toy’s in mind when he wrote Chinese Laundry Blues and then there was Mr Wu who became a windowcleaner…”
By the end of the 1930s Formby was Britain’s biggest box office attraction and in a career spanning 40 years he brought out more than 230 records, appeared in 21 films and had made thousands of stage appearances.
Widow Mrs Ashurst, whose father died 40 years ago, was inspired to contact the Observer after reading that a statue to George Formby is finally to be erected in Wigan.
Paid for by councillors’ Brighter Borough Fund money and contributions from the George Formby Society and Modus Properties, it is set to be unveiled at the new Grand Arcade shopping centre next year.