Signed photo from author's collection

ANGERS, William Henry  'Harry'   [1886-1957]

Liverpool has always been renowned as the birthplace of a host of comedians who graced the music halls and the radio. Tommy Handley, Robb Wilton, Ted Ray, Arthur Askey were among the giants but today even their star is fading to obscurity. Few can still be around who heard Handley and Wilton, let alone saw them on stage, and the baby boomer generation are the last to have any first-hand memories of Ray and Askey. The reputation of others, prominent in their time are probably already extinguished outside a few specialist historians of comedy. Think of Billy Matchett, the ‘Mirthquake’, a son of Toxteth, a true star in his time but recalled now by few. And then there is the case of Harry Angers, once described as “one of the finest comedians in the country” and “Britain’s favourite comedian” .

Born William Henry Angers on New Year’s Day 1886, he was the son of ship’s rigger John Angers and his wife Mary Ellen, residents of 255 Beaufort Street L8. By 1891 the family had moved to 50 Woodruff Street L8 and then 1901 finds them at 32 Park Street L8. (All these addresses long since demolished). As a 15 year-old Harry Angers was described as an ‘apprentice hairdresser’ and by 1909 he pops up in a Manchester directory as a hairdresser residing at 21 Parrin Lane, Monton. And then, for reasons lost in history, his life took a turn and by 1911 we find him in digs in Sheffield described as a ‘musical hall artist’. He married Lilian Woods, a fellow entertainer, in London in 1915. Back in Liverpool and living at 19 Bristol Road L15, in 1918 his daughter Florence Avril was born on 18th April; 1981 at Nurse Matilda Rhinds nursing home at 2 Rossett Avenue, off Smithdown Road.

The rest of his life seems to have been spent in London, 1920 finding him in Stepney at 82 Grove Road, later moving to the more affluent Wembley area. Newspaper searches paint a picture of a man never out of work, striding the boards of theatres the length and breadth of the country in variety, review and pantomime. He appeared alongside notable stars of the day such as Florrie Ford (back in his home city at the Shakespeare Theatre in 1938) and Sid Field. He also made several film appearances. The curiously titled Oh For A Plumber (a 19 minute short of 1935), My Irish Molly (a 1938 film starring Maureen O’Hara) and My Ain Folk (1945 featuring Moira Lister).

His daughter, Avril Angers, had a long and varied show business career and to some extent her comparative fame kept his name in the public eye. However, he did take umbrage when in 1954 an article in the press on Avril referred to him as her late father.

Harry Angers died in Totnes, Devon on 17th May 1957. It has been disappointing over the years to find out so little about him but his memory does deserve a recognition.

19 Bristol Road L15

Harry Angers was living here at the time his daughter Florence Avril was born in 1918. Soon after the family moved to London.


I have uncovered very few sources on Harry Angers worthy of any note.