The Wombles are fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures that live in burrows, where they help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in useful and ingenious ways. Wombles were created by author Elisabeth Beresford, originally appearing in a series of children’s novels from 1968. Although Wombles supposedly live in every country in the world, the stories are concerned with the life of the inhabitants of the burrow on Wimbledon Common in London, England.
The characters became nationally famous in the UK in the mid 1970s as a result of a very popular BBC children’s television show using stop motion animation. A number of spin-off novelty songs also became major hits in the British music charts. The Wombles (band) was the brainchild of British music writer and composer, Mike Batt.
The Womble motto is “Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish.” This “green” message was a reflection of the growing ecology movement of the 1970s.
- Great Uncle Bulgaria (violin, musical director) – the Wombles’ leader, was based on Beresford’s father-in-law and named after the country of the same name
- Tobermory (roadie) – an engineer, was based on Beresford’s brother, a skilled inventor, and named after the capital of the Isle of Mull
- Orinoco (vocals, keyboards) – a shirker who loved sleep and food, was styled on Beresford’s teenage son and named after the River Orinoco in South America
- Bungo (drums) – over-enthusiastic and bossy named after Bungo Province in Japan
- Tomsk (bass) – an athletic Womble with a rather low IQ named after Tomsk in Russia
- Wellington (guitar) – scientifically inclined, but very insecure and absent-minded. Named after her nephew’s school: Wellington School, Somerset.
- Madame Cholet (saxophone) – a cook, was styled on Beresford’s mother, named after a town in France
- Miss Adelaide – schoolmistress, named after the city in Australia
- Alderney – Madame Cholet’s assistant, was named after Alderney in the Channel Islands where Beresford lived towards the end of her life. She appeared in the early books, but did not make it into the first TV series. Her character was revived in the second TV series, when many viewers wrongly assumed she was a new character.
- Stepney – East Ender with dreadlocks, got his name from the Stepney area in London‘s East End where he came lives.
Bulgaria 12″ plush toy elizabeth beresford. Item is about 12″ tall and in good condition. Item lacks rips/tears/stains. Eyeglasses are broken and bow tie is missing.
There were five novels:
- The Wombles (1968)
- The Wandering Wombles (1970)
- The Wombles at Work (1973)
- The Wombles to the Rescue (1974)
- The Wombles Go Round the World (1976)
All of these were out of print for many years, but they are currently being re-issued by Bloomsbury with all-new illustrations. The last two books are less well known than the original three, perhaps because they appeared after the successful television series began. In The Wandering Wombles, the setting moved from Wimbledon Common to Hyde Park in central London. However The Wombles to the Rescue saw them return to Wimbledon Common.
The Wombles have been a sensation in the UK for decades now. This is but a small introduction to the Wombles for us Yanks! I hope you enjoyed the article. I’m going to check out more of the Wombles music now!
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