Over the years the act had several names.
The Lomas Troupe (I) (c 1895 – c 1901)
The original act appears to have been The Lomas Troupe and was formed around 1895. An entry in The Era for the 7th September 1895 is the earliest mention that I have found to date. The Era - 7 Sept 1895
At this stage the troupe consisted of Robert Lomas and two of his brothers, William & Richard1 plus some other members.
Their best known act was called Adventures in Monkeyland in which the whole troupe appeared in monkey costume in a comedy mime and slapstick routine.
However, in 1899 there appears to have been a falling out and the troupe splits.
In the 6 May edition of The Era there is are two adverts:
- One is for Lomas, Original R and the other Lomas Brothers (late Original Lomas Troupe) The Era - 6 May 1899
In the 27 May edition of The Era, we find a notice:-
- Notice to PROPRIETORS and MANAGERS. – I, BOB LOMAS, am the Originator of the Lomas Troupe. This is inserted to avoid Managers being confused with anyone else using the name of Lomas.
Signed: Bob Lomas
In the same edition, on page 30, we find an advert for both The Lomas Troupe and The Lomas Brothers.
A week later the Lomas Brothers is further qualified by giving their names as Dick & Will, and identifying themselves as part of the Original Lomas Troupe.
The Lomas Brothers (1899 – )
All we know is that this comprised at least Richard and William Lomas.
They were doing a routine called “Larks in a Goods Van”
The Lomas Troupe (II) (1899 – 1905? )
This would appear to be the same as the original Lomas Troupe but minus brothers Richard & William. However, we don’t know if any other members of the troupe split at the same time.
There is an entry in The Era of 1st July 1905 which lists both the Lomas Troupe and The Pender Troupe on the same bill. Lomas & Pender 1905
The Pender Troupe (c 1901 – 1923)
When the act split, Robert Lomas formed his famous “Giants” troupe of stilt-walkers and acrobats which was generally regarded as the finest act of its kind and toured successfully in UK, Europe and USA billed often as “The Long and Short of it — A Screaming Absurdity”.
Where the name ‘Pender’ came from I have no idea.
The first time we come across the name Pender is in a newspaper cutting of 1901. The Stage - 19 Dec 1901
They are performing a routine called “Hands Up”. This routine would be filmed in 1904 by the Gaumont Company
They made their first appearance in the US in 1911 at a new cabaret-type venue in New York called the Folies Bergère Club on its opening night.
Whilst Bob was leading the troupe there was on occasions, more than one troupe at the same time, presumably to meet demand.3
Bob Pender’s Knockabout Comedians
The Bob Pender Comedy Troupe
Bob Pender Stage Troupe
Pender’s Acrobatic Troupe
One of the offshoots was a troupe with children, including Bob’s daughter Doris.
The Lomas Troupe (III) (1923 – c 1933)
After Bob retired, around the end of 1923, his brothers continued to tour but reverted to the name Lomas Troupe.
2It has been suggested that the Lomas Troupe comprised Jack & Doris Hartman, Tom and Jim Tomas and Archie Leach along with some American performers. [I assume that Tomas is a typo and should be Lomas. I am not aware of a Jim Lomas, but as non-family performers often adopted the family name for the act, the Jim could be someone else]
Further corroboration of this is given in a biography by Cary Grant.3
They toured the US ‘Pantages Circuit’ during 1923 and 1924.
However, there is some crossover in times.
The last US date I have for the Pender Troupe is 26th April 1923 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Five months later they are the Lomas Troupe when they perform in Vancouver.
However, the Pender Troupe were performing in pantomime during Christmas 1923. This was possibly Bob’s swan song – they would have been contracted some while before the event.
Continuing on from their Pender Troupe act they did stilt-walking, pantomime and slap-stick. Most of 1924 was spent touring America. The act contained about 8 people.
They were still performing in 1933.
Hart, Pender and O’Neill
Doris (who had married Jack Hartman [possibly Henry John Hart], a comedian), together with Chuck O’Neill, formed a comedy act Hart, Pender and O’Neill which appeared in variety.
1 The Era, 3rd June 1899 has an entry for The Lomas Brothers (Dick and Will) The Era 3-June-1899
2Magnificent Recollections by Cecelia Frances Page, iUniverse 2010, ISBN: 978-1-4502-2712-4 Magnificent Recollections extract
3 “Archie Leach by Cary Grant” – Ladies Home Journal 1963 Archie Leach by Cary Grant (00)