- The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club
"The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club" was a
British televisionvariety show made by Granada Televisionin the mid 1970s. It was set in a fictional working men's clubin the North of England and was hosted by comedian Colin Crompton. Also regularly featured was comedian Bernard Manningwho also sang most weeks in a surprisingly effective manner. Crompton was frequently the butt of Manning's jokes, unwittingly acting as Manning's stooge.
The show featured acts regularly seen on the Northern club circuits and often acts which were on the last legs of their popularity, like fifties crooner
Johnnie Ray. It also gave newer comedians such as Cannon & Ball, The Grumbleweedsand magician Paul Danielstheir first TV exposure.
Other artists to appear on the show included
Roy Orbison, Lonnie Donegan, Lyn Paul, Tessie O'Shea, The Three Degrees, Stuart Damon, The Bachelors, Susan Maughan, Buddy Greco, George Roper, Jim Bowen, Nana Mouskouri, Freddie Garrity, George Mellyand John Chilton's Feetwarmers, Frank Carsonand Terri Rogers
The show was produced by
Johnnie Hampat Granada Television in Manchester. It was once filmed at the Layton Institute in Blackpool.
Elizabeth Dawnappeared as a waitress prior to her role in " Coronation Street".
* An extract from the show can be seen in the film "
24 Hour Party People", where Shaun Ryder, in his formative years is seen watching Karl Denverperform "Wimoweh".
Origins of the name
Wheeltappers and shunters were both types of railwayworker commonly employed on British railways prior to the 1970s. Both worked in goods yards with the hundreds of thousands of goods wagons upon which railways depended for the majority of their income.
shunterwas responsible for the sorting of wagonsinto trains bound for a variety of destinations and ensuring that empties were returned to their owners or points of loading.
Wheeltapperwas a more skilled occupation; The West Somerset RailwayWeb site remarks that:
:"a wheeltapper was employed at large railway stations to check that the wheels on the bogies were sound and that the axle boxes were not hot. By using a long handled wheeltapping hammer he would strike the wheels of the bogie and hear if it ‘rang true’ (a wheel with a crack in it would give off a dull sound), and with the back of his hand he would determine whether the axle box bearing was running hot." [ [http://www.wsr.org.uk/bogies.htm West Somerset Railway website] ]
Wheeltappers were vital to the smooth running of the railways as a cracked tyre or overheated
axle bearingwould lead to delays and the loss of revenue. These were particularly common in the 19th century, where axle bearings were lubricated by grease. Equally, in this period, metallurgy was a more haphazard science and thus it was impossible to test steeltyres for cracks, thus the role of the wheeltapper was of crucial importance.
The name of the programme thus echoes that of the many
social clubsset up by railwayworkers in the 19th century, many of which are still in existence, albeit often having lost their railway origins.
* [http://bernardmanning.homestead.com Bernard Manning - A tribute to the 'King of comedy']
* [http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/lightentertainment/wheeltappers.htm Off The Telly on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club]
* [http://www.nostalgiacentral.com/tv/comedy/wheeltap.htm Nostalgia Central on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club]
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