1939. Hardcover. An album containing many photographs of the voyage made by Robey, known as the "Prime Minister of Mirth" and his wife Blanche by ship to Australia in 1939, with return journey via airplane (Imperial Airways), necessitated by the beginning of the Second World War. The album concludes with the Robeys emergency trip back to London.
The album opens with large b&w photographs of the happy departure, hand captioned by Mrs. Robey. She writes, "G & I on board at Tilbury (Strathallan) en route to Australia, July 1939", above a large image of the couple smiling and waving from the deck. This is followed by 2 more images of Mrs. Robey on the HMS Rodney, "B. R. with Captain & Officers, taken by G. R. early 30ties (sic)".
There are many amusing original snap shots (some with hand written captions) of George larking about in Australia, posing with emu, kangaroos ("kangaroo & baby in pouch, Koala Farm, Sydney, Sept. 1929"), parrots, and visiting natural sites such as Mt. Dandenong Observatory. Studio shots include: Australian cockatoos; felling gum tree; laughing jackass kookaburra; dairy herd; platypus; lyre bird; flowering gum; and a signed photograph entitled, "The Fairies Tree, Carved by Ola Cohn" (signed Ola Cohn in ink below the caption). Ola Cohn (1892 - 1964) was a noted Australian sculptor and philanthropist, best known for the Fairies' Tree in the Fitzroy Gardens which she sculpted in the early 1930s and dedicated to the children of Melbourne.
There is a wide array of documentation from the trip, including early Qantas Airways papers, some dated after the declaration of war of September 1, 1939: a Qantas ticket folder dated Sept 18, 1939 with the completed return passage rebate certificate enclosed (Qantas had only begun commercial flights in 1935); Qantas Empire Airways brochures entitled "What to See in Darwin, "What to See in Singapore"; Qantas Flying Boat itinerary for the couple for a stay at the Hotel Oranje in Sourabaya, with breakfast on board and lunch at Singapore; and transit documents with original b&w photograph portraits of George and Blanche Robey issued by the Consulat General de France for stop in Marseilles, France.
There are also P & O travel brochures on Adelaide and Melbourne, with printed maps; and P & O certificates, the S. S. Strathallan, Commander J. H. Biggs, for crossing the Equator on 4th July 1939, signed by Biggs.
The out bound route of the Robeys 1939 Australia trip included stops in Tangier, Gibraltar, Marseilles, the Suez Canal, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, and Australia. The trip back from Australia included flying Qantas from Sydney, stopping at a ridiculous number of places - Brisbane, Gladstone, Karumba, Groote Eylandt, Darwin, Koepang, Bima, Sourabaya (Indonesia), Batavia, Singapore, Penang, Bangkok, Rangoon, Akyab, Calcutta, Alla Habad, Gwalior, Raj Samand, Karachi, Dabai (Dubai), Bahrein and Basra. The last flight information in the album is an Imperial Airways flight itinerary dated October 14, 1939, which departed Calcutta with 3 stops en route to Karachi. The last photograph in the album is captioned, "Airport Building, Basrah". After Basra, they stopped at Habbaniyeh, Tiberias, Alexandria, Athens, Brindisi, Rome, Marseilles, Southampton, London. Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long range airline which operated from 1924 to 1939, when it merged with BOAC.
Qantas continued to fly during W.W.I.I., operating its flying boats on the Australia and England route in cooperation with BOAC. After Italy entered the war in June 1940, this became known as the Horseshoe Route between Sydney and Durban in South Africa with the South Africa to the UK stage of necessity being made by sea. This Qantas flying boat service was an important line of communication between Australia and the United Kingdom during the war.
Sir George Edward Wade (1869 – 1954), known professionally as George Robey, was an English comedian, singer and actor who became known as one of the greatest music hall performers of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries. Robey was known for making absurd observations on everyday life as the "Prime Minister of Mirth". Robey performed in a wide range of roles, from Christmas pantomimes to Shakespearean roles, radio broadcasts for American audiences, film roles, and a brief foray into television.
Oblong folio, approximately 170 mounted b&w photographs (snap shots & studio shots), ranging in size from 7 1/4 x 5 1/2" (the departure portrait of the couple) to 3 1/2 x 2 3/4". 24 pages with photographs and ephemera; 16pp unused. The album 13 x 10 3/4", in highly decorated color limp leather covers. Some items deliberately mounted on the tissue guards so that the printed verso can be read. The photographs and ephemera in remarkably fine condition, bright and clean.
An album of images of a trip to Australia by a renowned British comedian, which also tells the story of pre WWII transport from the UK to Australia, and from Australia back to the UK by airplane. Very good + condition. Item #25941