Woy Woy celebrates Spike Milligan

Spike with his parents Florence and Leo, 1959.
Spike with his parents Florence and Leo, 1959.

HE WAS arguably Woy Woy’s most famous adopted son, though it took the town a little while to warm to him. 

Comedian Spike Mulligan first visited Woy Woy in the late 1950s after his parents, Leo and Flo, migrated there from England.

Goons will be goons, so the late funnyman – he died in 2002, aged 83 – couldn’t resist taking the mickey. For example: "There are just three signs on the railway station platform. 'Woy Woy', 'Woy Woy', and 'Woy, Woy'. It's a special service for drunks."

Theatrette panel at the Spike exhibition

Theatrette panel at the Spike exhibition

But he soon grew to love the place and the feeling became mutual – so much so that Central Coast Council Library Service recently launched a permanent Milligan exhibition at Woy Woy Library.

Council local history librarian Geoff Potter said the exhibition holds a culturally significant collection of family photographs, recordings and memorabilia.

Spike fishing at Woy Woy 1961. Courtesy Desmond Milligan Collection CCLS

Spike fishing at Woy Woy 1961. Courtesy Desmond Milligan Collection CCLS

“This important collection pays tribute to the legacy of the world-famous comedian Terence ‘Spike’ Milligan and the lives of his parents Flo and Leo and brother Desmond, shedding light on the development of the wonderful Milligan world view,” Mr Potter said.

“Spike and his family had a very special connection to Woy Woy and the surrounding suburbs… Even though he was born in India and grew up in England, Spike considered the Central Coast his home and he loved nothing more than to visit family, write and relax here.

“Spike was supportive of many local organisations including the Woy Woy Little Theatre, Woy Woy Rotary Club and the Gosford City Orchestra as well as a major activist in the 1970s campaign to preserve Rileys Island near Davistown from real estate development.”

Spike open day

Central Coast Council is inviting lovers of comedy and history to an open day to celebrate the recently unveiled Spike Milligan Exhibition Space at Woy Woy Library on September 1, 9.30am-12.30pm.

The first 100 attendees on the day will receive a limited-edition commemorative Milligan tote bag.

Benjamin Hartley, section manager of library futures and planning, wanted to thank the community for their patience while this one-of-a-kind space in honour of the comedic legend was created.

“This event is our way of showing our appreciation to the community for their understanding while we carried out works to provide a more active and flexible learning space,” Mr Hartley said.

“Come along and view the exhibition at your own leisure or join our incredibly passionate and knowledgeable local history librarian, Geoff Potter, who will be guiding visitors through the display and answering questions.

The new short film The Milligans of Woy Woy, created especially for the exhibition, will be on loop in the small theatrette.

“Art displays created by local schools, which will be incorporated into the Milligan collection, will also be revealed,” Mr Hartley said .

The morning will offer numerous Spike-themed activities for the children to enjoy including face painting, craft and a special Ning Nang Nong Storytime that will be held on the new deck at 10.30am.

New content will be constantly added to the exhibition, much if it donated by the community and Spike’s family, especially the late Desmond and his son, Michael.

At Woy Woy Library, cnr Blackwall Rd & Oval Ave, Woy Woy, (02) 4304 7555.

Find out more about the Milligans connection here 

This story Spike Milligan: Goon but not forgotten first appeared on The Senior.