|Allan Smethurst (aka The Singing Postman) was
Bury in Lancashire on November 18th, 1927 - but at the age of two his
family moved to Sheringham in North Norfolk.
They lived at 48, Cliff Road and the town would later
feature in one of his lyrics: 'I am a Shannock, I wor a
Allan Smethurst: a shy star
Smethurst's mother was originally from Stiffkey
and so he was exposed to the Norfolk accent from birth.
He also spent many childhood holidays in the village and
could vividly recall the burying there of Rev Harold
Davidson (the prostitute's padre) in 1937.
It wasn't until he was 21 that
he taught himself to play the guitar - inspired by the
likes of Jimmie Rodgers, George Formby and Frank Crummit;
his stage name was actually inspired by Rodgers'
the 'Singing Brakeman'.
a demo tape to Ralph Tuck who compered a regional radio
programme called 'Wednesday Morning' and soon after Tuck
set up his own recording company and produced Smethurst's first record - which appeared in 1964.
Yew Gotta Loight, Boy? rose to number 7 in the
national charts and for a brief period the Singing Postman was
outselling both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In
1965 Smethurst gave up his day job at the Post Office
(earning £12 a week) and embarked on a full time musical career. At this
time, he appeared on Top of the Pops and
won an Ivor Novello Award for best Novelty Song.
However, he soon began to suffer from stage fright and
started to drink heavily - eventually becoming an
alcoholic. He also suffered from arthritis which stopped
him playing the guitar after 1970.
Smethurst recorded some 80 songs - most of which employed
the Norfolk dialect - including: My Valentine,
I Miss My Miss from Diss and Oi Can't Get a Noice
Loaf of Bread. Although he appeared to be a comedic
figure - always performing in his Royal Mail uniform -
his song lyrics had considerable depth and evoked a
romantic and nostalgic picture of his Norfolk childhood.
It was almost as though he was trying to escape from the
present - as his song Yew Carnt Keep Livin' in the
Local girl Mollie Bayfield was immortalised in his best
as his chain-smoking Norfolk sweetheart Molly Windley -
'down along th' Mundesley shore'. In reality however,
she was married to Albert Bayfield - a friend of
Smethurst's from the Paston school in
North Walsham. He
changed her name in order to provide a rhyme for 'chimley'.
The Best of the Singing Postman
in poverty in the Salvation Army Hostel in Grimsby on 22 December, 2000.
He had previously worked as a electrician on Grimsby
Docks. While living in the hostel, he was visited by Rolf Harris who once had a hit
with one of his songs. Towards the end of his life
Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy? for their TV
advert and Smethurst started to get royalties again.
A tribute Radio 4 programme entitled 'In Search of the
Singing Postman' was broadcast on 7th September, 2010.
It was written and presented by the Norfolk-born writer
Each year there is celebration of the Singing Postman's
life and works - held at the Harbour Room