Harry Gifford (1876–1960)

Harry Gifford was born Harry Folkard in Plymouth, where his father had a shop that sold pianos and other instruments1 His early hits included I Like Your Old French Bonnet (with Tom Mellor and Alf J. Lawrance, 1906); Wilkie Bard’s She Sells Seashells (with Terry Sullivan, 1908); Billy Williams’s I Don’t Want A Girl For Sunday (1908); and Florrie Forde’s It’s Nice To Have A Friend (with Tom Mellor, 1913).

In the 1930s and early 1940s, Gifford and Fred E. Cliffe supplied George Formby Jr. with a very large number of songs, including Madam Moscovitch (1934); Fanlight Fannie (1935); Riding In The T.T. Races (1935); The Wash House At The Back (1935); Dare Devil Dick (1936); Keep Your Seats, Please (1936); Sitting On The Sands All Night (1936); With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock (1936); Hindoo Man (1937); The Lancashire Toreador (1937); Oh, Dear Mother (1937); When We Feather Our Nest (1937); The Window Cleaner (When I’m Cleaning Windows) (1937); Does Your Dream Book Tell You That? (1938); Frigid Air Fanny (1938); I Wonder Who’s Under Her Balcony Now (1938); Mother, What’ll I Do Now? (1938); Our Sergeant Major (1938); Hill Billy Willie (1939); I’m The Husband Of The Wife Of Mr. Wu (1939); Imagine Me In The Maginot Line (1939); It’s Turned Out Nice Again (1939); Lancashire Hot Pot Swingers (1939); Mr. Wu’s A Window Cleaner Now (1939); Down The Old Coal Hole (1940); Letting The New Year In (1940); Oh Don’t The Wind Blow Cold (1940); Delivering The Morning Milk (1941); Frank On His Tank (1942); and Bunty’s Such A Big Girl Now (1943). Formby’s name also appears in the credits of many of these songs; however, this is almost certainly a case of the artist’s demanding a cut of the royalties as a condition for accepting the song, although Formby expert Brendan Ryan suggests that George made at least some changes to both melodies and lyrics to come up with final versions of songs that suited him best.2

Some of Gifford’s biggest hits, however, were songs he wrote with Fred Godfrey, including In The Island Of Go-As-You-Please (1912); Ella Retford’s Hey Ho! Can’t You Hear The Steamer? (1913); Mark Sheridan’s What A Game It Is! Wow! Wow! (1913); The Last Train Home Tonight (1914); Ella Retford’s We’re Irish And Proud Of It, Too! (with Tom Mellor, 1914); the World War One hit Save Your Kisses Till The Boys Come Home (with Tom Mellor, 1915); and The Wee Little House That You Live In (Is The Best Place Of All) (with Tom Mellor, 1915).

In addition to those hits, Gifford and Godfrey teamed up, often with Tom Mellor, for a large number of songs in the period just before the start of World War One and in the early years of the war, as follows:

The Baby’s Parade (with Alf J. Lawrance); Oh! The Love-Birds (with Alf J. Lawrance)

There Never Was A Girl Like You (with Tom Mellor); Underneath Your Mushroom Umbrella (with Alf J. Lawrance)

The Wedding Of Jeanie McKie (Come Along, You Heilan’ Lads) (with Billy Williams; some sources credit Tom Mellor instead of Gifford); When The Factory Bell Is Ringing (with Billy Williams)

Dicky Bird! (Sing! Sing! Any Old Thing); Do You Always Tell Your Wife?; Fly Away To Fairyland; Hello Little Miss U.S.A.; Hello! Little Snowflake; I Don’t Know You And You Don’t Know Me; I’m Coming Back To Old Kilkenny; In My Little Jungle Home; Just To Be Near You (with Lawrence Wright); La Belle France (with Maurice Scott); No More Knocking At The Door; Nobody Loves You Like I Do (Not For A Year Or Two); Oh! Those Ever Loving, Wonderful Beautiful Eyes (with Lawrence Wright); Oh! You Great Big Baby Face; Someday! (with Lawrence Wright); Taking Your Best Girl Out; Way Down To Honolulu; We’ll All Do The Same As The Children Do (with Lawrence Wright); We’re All Getting Used To It (with Lawrence Wright); When I See You On Sunday

Come Along To The Carnival Tonight; An Entente Cordiale In La Belle France (with Mellor); Everybody’s Happy Up In Liverpool (with Mellor); Gee! That’s Going Some For You; How’s Your Mother, And How’s Your Dad? All Right, Thank You (with Mellor); Hurroo! Hurroo! Here We Are Again! (with Mellor); I Don’t Want To Die For You (I Want To Live); I’m Off To Kelly’s Isle (with Mellor); It’s A Long Way To Go Home; It’s The Same Old Tommy And The Same Old Jack! (with Mellor and Alf J. Lawrence); It’s The Way They Have In The Navy (with Mellor); I’ve Been Out With Johnny Walker (with Mellor); I’ve Got A Lad In Yorkshire (Yorkshire Belongs To Me) (with Mellor); Jane, Ain’t You Coming Home Again?; Johnny O’Morgan, On His Little Mouth Organ, Playing “Home Sweet Home” (with Mellor); The Last Train Home Tonight (Puff, Puff, Hear The Whistle Blowing); Little Miss Waltz Time Is Coming Home (with Mellor); My Little Red Cross Girl (I Shall Wear The Rosary That You Gave To Me) (with Mellor); Oh! Oh! I Love You (I Can’t Keep It); They All Play The Same Old Game (with Mellor); We All Want To Do The Same As Father (with Mellor); When I Hear Those Bells Of Brittany (with Mellor); When The Dear Old Temple Bells Are Ringing; With All Your Faults (I Love You Still) (with Lawrence Wright); Your Smiles Are The Sunshine (Your Tears Are The Rain) (with Mellor)

Hullo! Hullo! Hullo! (You’re Carrying On) (with Mellor); I’ve Seen Beautiful Pictures (with Mellor); Mister Sergeant Michael Donoghue (with Mellor); Tommy Boy! (with Mellor); Tommy’s Learning French (with Mellor)

If She Has An Irish Way With Her (Shure Her Heart’s All Right) (with Mellor); Send The Boys A Little Snapshot (Of The Ones They’ve Left Behind) (with Mellor)

Date unknown:
Americana (with Mellor); Dan, Dan, Dan, The Funny Little Heilan’ Man (1913?); Hullo Little Girl, How Do (with Mellor); I Want To Roller-Skate, Johnny (with Mellor and T.W. Thurban; Somebody Wants Me (with Mellor); When I’m With You (1913?, with Mellor); and When Johnny Comes Marching Home (with Mellor)



1  Brendan Ryan, “Songsmiths to George Formby: Harry Gifford and Fred E. Cliffe,” The Call Boy [British Music Hall Society] 24, no. 2 (1987), p. 13.
2  Ibid.