For many years Nobby a famous tramp lived in a bus shelter on Oundle Road Peterborough. Nobby caught the public’s imagination, and Kate Hall from Eastern Angles tells the BBC’s Paul Stainton that they would like to write and perform a play about his life called Our Nobby.
PAUL: We’re going to feature something now that may make for next year’s Festival. Do any of you remember Nobby the homeless man who lived in the Orton Mere wooden bus stop? Remember him? You may have seen him from inside your car whilst you’ve been driving down Oundle Road. Well he’s famous in some corners of the city, as the theatre group Eastern Angles have decided to create a two part theatrical performance named Our Nobby in his honour for next year’s Peterborough Festival. Kate Hall is from Eastern Angles. Morning Kate.
PAUL: For those people who don’t know Nobby, and have not seen him shuffling along Oundle Road, can you just decribe him to our listeners please.
KATE: Nobby was a man in .. is a man in his .. maybe about his fifties who took up residence in this bus stop on the Oundle Road, and he was there for about ten years. So a lot of people saw him, and people had a great affection for him. They left food and blankets, and were very protective about him. So in one instance where some kids were throwing stones the police got involved and moved them on and things like that. And that’s why we’re doing a play about him.
PAUL: Why did you choose Nobby though?
KATE: Because he is so well known. An actor Mark Curtis came to Eastern Angles Theatre Company and said I’ve got a great idea for a play, it’s about Nobby the Tramp. And I live in Peterborough and I went yeah, that’s a really good idea. But even the more you talk to everybody, everybody has got a story. Everybody says, oh yeah, I know, I remember him, and he’s like a character who sort of connects the whole of Peterborough, which is really interesting.
PAUL: Yes. And how is it going to work? Are you making up a story? Are you looking for memories?
KATE: Well what we’re really working on is called Our Nobby, because the play is about the fact that everybody has a story about Nobby the Tramp and what that says about Peterborough, and it’s about the people of Peterborough. Because I think it shows them in a great light because people responded very positively, they were supportive, they could see somebody who was down on their luck, and people went out of their way to try and help him out. And I think that says a really lovely thing about Peterborough’s true character. I don’t think you get that in a big city like Manchester or London, they’d be anonymous. But in Peterborough he made a real impression on people.
PAUL: So how do people help you?
KATE: We have got a Facebook page called Our Nobby.: we want your stories., or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re researching the play now. I’m actually meeting the writer Mark today and tomorrow, and we’re doing a lot of research in the city including doing Nobby’s Walk from the bus shelter in town.
PAUL: Nobby’s Walk! They should call that road Nobby’s Walk shouldn’t they?
KATE: (LAUGHS) And if people can email their stories as soon as possible, beacuse the play will first go on tour this autumn around Peterborough, and Eastern Angles performed two plays last year in Lincoln Road and the Lion and Unicorn, but we’ll be touring Nobby the Tramp or Our Nobby this autumn. So also if anybody would like that show to come to their business, their school, we’ll be happy to help you.
PAUL: Good stuff. Kate, thank you very much. Kate Hall soon to be director of Our Nobby. They’re looking for places in Peterborough to perform. You can contact them on their Facebook. And it’ll be done in time for next year’s Peterborough Festival. Let’s change that bit of Oundle Road. Let’s call it Nobby’s Walk. That would be genius.