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Milk float Bernard back at the Dukes

Bernard the milk-float - The Dukes' eco-friendly show bus
Bernard the milk-float - The Dukes' eco-friendly show bus

Anyone who has been to one of the Dukes theatre's summer shows in Williamson Park will probably have noticed this former milk float zipping - well, perhaps not zipping, exactly – between scenes ahead of the crowd.

The little green electric cart, which has been part of the theatre summer landscape for 30 years, will be back this year for Around the World in 80 Days (July 21- August 27).

Bernard - for that is the vehicle's name - is a 56-year-old former milk delivery float owned and used by Express Dairies in Farnworth, before being acquired by the theatre in 1992 to help operate park show sound and lighting.

Bernard went unnamed for years, but following a fundraising effort to have the him overhauled – which was supported by many people, including Sir Ian McKellen, also from Farnworth, during his 80th birthday tour at the theatre in 2019 – it made sense to give the little green eco-friendly monster a name.

Bernard Gladstone in his prop-packed garden
Bernard Gladstone in his prop-packed garden

Why Bernard? The vehicle is named after long-term volunteer theatre archivist Bernard Gladstone, who died in 2021. Bernard had looked after the theatre archive since the 1970s - it was one of his chief preoccupations, the other being his garden, which was packed with old Dukes show props from the 41 park shows since 1987.

His dedication to the theatre won him awards and affection around the city.

For 25 years Bernard looked after the cast and crew at the dressing rooms in Williamson Park, known as Base Camp. Bernard's milk float will be seen throughout this year's show.

More info and show tickets here


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