Penrose having 
the last laugh!

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One of Biggleswade’s most famous sons has a new compilation album out.

Charles Penrose - The Laughing Policeman - was born in Biggleswade in 1873. But his work is joining the digital age with a compilation album on itunes and Spotify.

The 20 track album, called 78Man Presents Charles Penrose, features many songs not available for over 70 years.

Mainly remembered today for “The Laughing Policeman”, Penrose made many other records under several names (such as Charles Jolly, Merry Andrew and The Spoofums).

He began performing laughing songs locally as a teenager and by 18 was asked to join a theatrical tour, from where his music hall career took off.

He began recording around 1915 and in 1923 recorded the first version of “The Laughing Policeman” for the Regal label, a song which became so successful he re-recorded it for Columbia in 1926 and Dominion in 1929!

He also appeared in several films during the ‘30s. He died in 1952.

The Biggleswade Chronicle in December 1939 quoted an article in the Radio Times when Charles wrote about his early life in Biggleswade. “I was born and brought up in what was then the little market town of Biggleswade. My father was a maker of clocks and watches and I was expected to follow in his footsteps.

“By the time I was about sixteen I had become quite useful at repairing clocks, and a certain little old woman, who had a very pretty little cottage, always sent for me when anything went wrong with her most prized possession, an old grandfather clock. “

Penrose’s real name was Charles Cawse and he and his family moved away from Biggleswade before 1891.

Among the tracks on the new album are My Giggling Typist (as Charles Jolly and Kaye Connor, 1931),The Laughing Bachelor (as Charles Penrose, 1927) A Merry Little Laugh (as Charles Jolly, 1923) Laughing Stuttering Sam (as Charles Penrose, 1931) Army Laughs (as Charles Penrose, 1927) Dismal Desmond the Despondent Dalmatian (as Charles Penrose, 1927) and Felix Keeps on Laughing (as Charles Penrose, 1924).