The Twickenham Museum
People : Musicians

Robert Weston (Harris)
Songwriter
1878 - 1936

Robert Weston was born in Kingsbury Road, Islingon, where his father ran a grocer’s shop, the family living upstairs. He started work as a railway clerk but soon took up songwriting and, music publishing.

From 1915 until 1935 he collaborated with Bert Lee whom he met in the offices of his music publisher, Francis Day & Hunter. Living at first with his wife, Maud, in Islington he moved to 180 London Road, Twickenham, where he remained for the rest of his life. Here there was collaboration with Stanley Holloway, Gracie Fields and The Crazy Gang. Holloway was the original performer of “With Her Head Tucked underneath her Arm” in 1934, a song which records the legend of Anne Boleyn haunting The Tower of London. They also produced Marriott Edgar’s “The Lion and Albert” for Holloway, a long monologue set in Blackpool Zoo, containing the lines: “Yon lion’s ‘et Albert”:

And swallered the little lad - 'ole!
Now Mother 'ad seen this occurrence,
And not knowin' what to do next,
She 'ollered "Yon lion's et Albert!"
An' Father said "Ee, I am vexed."


Followed, in 1935 by “Brahn Boots”, describing a social solecism at Aunt Hannah’s funeral….

Earlier, in 1910 Robert had collaborated with Fred Murray to produce the famous music hall song “I’m Enery the Eighth I Am”:

I'm 'Enery the Eighth, I Am,
'Enery the Eighth I am, I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She's been married seven times before
And every one was an 'Enery
She wouldn't have a Willie nor a Sam
I'm her eighth old man named 'Enery
'Enery the Eighth, I am!


Willie was, later, changed to William, more difficult to sing but without imagery.

Later, Robert’s son Harris Weston (christened Robert Edgar Harris) joined in and, after Robert’s death published, with Bert Lee, "Knees Up Mother Brown", a song first recorded on Armistice Day 1918.

Another song, from 1910, written with Fred Barnes, was “When Father Papered the Parlour”, in nine verses:

Our parlour needed papering and Pa said it was waste
To call a paperhanger in, and so, he made some paste.
He bought some rolls of paper, got a ladder and a brush,
And with me mother's nightgown on, at it he made a rush


Robert’s two daughters continued to live in the Twickenham house after his death. Here his collection of scores and other papers remained for many years before being dispersed and largely lost to view.

further reading

Roy Hudd, Theatrephile volume 2, no6, 1985

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