Last call for the Babes to join Wearside reunion

Interest is mounting in a reunion of a group which was a Sunderland phenomenon for decades.

Thursday, 29th November 2018, 10:00 am
The Rosslyn Babes are meeting up once more.

Former members of the Rosslyn Babes will meet on Saturday, December 8, with four hours of catch-up planned from 7pm.

And what a night it promises to be for a group which made its mark on the entertainment scene from the 1940s onwards.

Richard Geere was the Babes’ accompanist and arranger from 1974 to 1980 and now performs at Disneyland’s “Royal Theatre”.

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His aunt Mary Harbord and his mother Norah were both in the Rosslyn Babes and Richard said many former members would be attending next month’s get-together.

But he is hoping an appeal in Wearside Echoes will help to reach even more members of the Babes who were a stage hit wherever they went.

“A lot of original Babes are still around, but in their 80s or late 70s,” said Richard.

The Babes had decades of success and on stages all over the country.

The troupe was named after the childhood home of Mary and Norah which was in Rosslyn Street.

Their first professional appearance was in Bernard Delfont’s production of Dick Whittington at the Lewisham Hippodrome, in London, back in 1944.

At the time, just a few months remained of the Second World War when the Babes made their debut at the Empire later that year, in Mother Goose.

They instantly captured the hearts of audiences.

Appearances at theatres in London, Stockport, Barnsley, Harrogate, Margate, Maidstone, Keighley followed as well as at venues in Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead.

They once had the honour of appearing on the same bill as Basil Brush, Bert Weedon, and Howard Williams.

Rchard shared a poster with us which shows them in another great line-up.

This time, it is from a stage show starring Lesley Fuller with Nancy Gabrielle, Lesley Noyes, George Patterson and Joan Ross.

Leslie was billed as ‘film star and your favourite comedian” while George Patterson was the ‘famous baritone from the Toronto Opera House’,

There were ten Rosslyn Babes performing that day and their billing described them as “The Small Cute, Clever Tappas.”

They became so popular, they were in demand all over the country but particularly in the North East.

In 1957, they featured in Hop O My Thumb, at the Palace Theatre, Newcastle. And that same year, they were in Cinderella at the Sunderland Empire Theatre.

A Cinderella appearance on their own patch put them on stage alongside the likes of Monica Henri as Dandini, Barri Chatt and Terri Gardiner as the Ugly Sisters, Dave Morris as Baron de Skint and Ann Hart as Prince Charming.

The girls were billed as ‘Sunderland’s Own Rosslyn Babes’ that year.

In 1967, the Babes were starring in a television show. They came second in the Hughie Green TV programme Opportunity Knocks with a performance which consisted of a routine filled with high-kicks.

In 1980, the Rosslyn Babes had two troupes which were both made up of teams of 12.

By 1982, the Babes were performing at the Sunderland Empire production of Cinderella.

Their final pantomime appearances at the Empire were in those early 1980s years, and the dance company is thought to have folded in around 1989.

Although the Babes appearances on the stages of the UK were at an end, the memories live on.

And there is still time for the former members who have not yet got in touch to do just that.

The reunion is by invitation only and former members can find out more about it, including the venue, by calling 07920 836123 or emailing [email protected]

What are your memories of Sunderland’s own Rosslyn Babes.

Get in touch and share those reflections by emailing [email protected]