Cowboy roped in fans with his jokes and tricks

Cal McCord in Dunstable
Cal McCord in Dunstable

The cowboy with the lasso is Cal McCord, who was the star attraction at a fete in Dunstable in the 1950s.

The photo is among a collection of Dunstable Carnival memorabilia, so it was probably taken in Grove House Gardens during an event organised to raise funds for the Dunstable Old People’s Welfare Association.

Cal McCord had big success in variety shows during the 1930s when he would simultaneously perform Wild West rope tricks while telling a string of jokes. A Pathe Newsreel feature of his act has just been posted on the internet and it’s well-worth watching.

He moved on in 1949 to a hugely popular BBC radio series called Riders of the Range, where he played a rancher.

It ran for years, with singer Carole Carr as his daughter and Paul Carpenter as the adventurous hero Jeff Arnold.

A comic strip featuring the series was published in the newly launched Eagle comic.

Cal McCord gained even greater fame in later years as “the TV cowboy”, making numerous appearances on children’s television to talk about life in the Wild West.

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society.

His book of Yesteryear photos, Dunstable Through Time, is now available from him at 69 Derwent Drive, Dunstable, LU6 3PB. Price £17 including postage and packing.