Spotlight to shine again on Wimbledon music hall stars

Your Local Guardian: The performers will be under the spotlight again The performers will be under the spotlight again

Stars from a golden age of entertainment could shine for a final time thanks to a major restoration project.

Hundreds of music hall artists who amazed crowds a century ago are buried in Streatham Park Cemetery. The graves include singers, comedians, dancers, clowns, strongmen and acrobats, some of who were household names at the start of the last century.

A monument to the performers, erected in 1924 by the Variety Artistes Benevolent Fund, has fallen into disrepair - but a £50,000 grant should put their achievements back under the spotlight.

The cash has been donated by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and the restoration work will be carried out by heritage charity the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America.

The marble monument commemorates more than 200 stars buried at the cemetery in Rowan Road, Mitcham.

The guild’s chairman, Neil Morkunas, said: “This project is a wonderful opportunity for us to shine a light on these extraordinary performers, whose contribution to our collective cultural history must never be forgotten.”

The head of HLF London, Sue Bowers, said: “These largely forgotten performers from music hall’s golden age will once more be thrust into the limelight thanks to this project.”

A new research project will also explore the lives of the stars, with information about them set to be published in an online database.

Stars buried in the cemetery include singers Tom Leamore and Tom Costello, actors Lily Long and Will Hay, strongman Atlas and strong lady Vulcana.

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