What a dummy!

HUMAN statues are a regular feature of the street entertainment in London’s Covent Garden and one or two have made their way to Luton town centre in recent years.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 17th September 2011, 10:57 am

And the crowd gazing through the display window at the Co-op in New Bedford Road, Luton, in May 1950 were left wondering whether these characters were real.

The woman on the right of the picture was a dummy, but the smiling chap in the comfy chair was definitely human. That became obvious when he gave the onlookers an occasional cheeky wink.

His name was Fred Archer and he was an engineer until trade slumped in the early ‘30s.

He then decided to become ‘Fredel, the human wax model’ and he spent hours practising in front of a mirror until he could control his blinking.

Fred actually managed 45 minutes without blinking when he appeared before a panel of judges in Birmingham.

He was travelling in a show called Seeing Is Believing, which had reached Luton. The window display stunt at the Co-op, where the Galaxy Centre now stands, was a sideline.

> The picture above, also taken in 1950, is believed to be connected to well-known Luton firm G. F. Farr as the name ‘Farr’ is written on the original Luton News negative wrapper. But the reason for the ‘But a guy needs a smart hat’ display is not clear.

As the Second World War came to an end, the Farr family decided to have their Collingdon Street factory rebuilt and modern machinery installed.

Local builder Cyril Bass was given the job and with great ingenuity he and three labourers built the new engineering works around the shell of the old building, pulled it down and raised the floor without any working days being lost. The job took three years and was completed in 1950.