Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company

Above: The Charles Pollard & Nellie Chester nee Pollard troupe in North America, c1901-2. Not all of the players can be identified with confidence, but the existence of several players, and not others, suggests it was the 1901-1902 tour of North America. Courtesy The Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre, Melbourne. (See below for key to photo)

These are pages dedicated to the child performers in Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company troupes run by Charles Pollard and his sister Nellie Chester nee Pollard. The children usually came from the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. A feature is that these troupes generally performed in South-East Asia, India and North America over the period 1896 -1910, but never in their hometown of Melbourne. See Note 1 below for a summary on the Pollard tours


Kate Rice‘s new podcast on the Pollard’s can be heard here: Performing the Past | Episode 4: SO AND SO AND SUCH AND SUCH (Kate is the 2020 Frank Van Straten Fellow at the Australian Performing Arts Collection)


Some of the performers with Pollard’s whose full stories are known include

Note 1: The various Pollard Tours

Based on Peter Downes work, we might define the Pollard troupes this way:

  • James Pollard‘s (Original) Lilliputians (mostly comprising his own children, 1880-1886),
  • Tom Pollard‘s Lilliputians aka the Pollard Opera Company (Australasia, the Far East and South Africa, 1891-1905)
  • Tom Pollard‘s Juvenile Opera Company (mostly Australasia 1907-c1908)
  • Charles Pollard & Nellie Chester nee Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Companies (one to South Africa, then generally to the Far East and North America 1896-1910 )
  • Arthur Pollard‘s Company (to the Far East and India 1909-1910)
  • Nellie Chester nee Pollard’s “Pollard Company” (only active in North America 1909-1914 but mostly comprising Australians)

Tom Pollard’s troupes are the subject of Peter Downes book The Pollards (2002) – and their members came from across New Zealand and Australia. Charles Pollard & Nellie Chester nee Pollards companies were mostly enlisted from inner Melbourne. Most child actors did not swap companies.

Key to Photo above

Pollards Group Photos 1900-1901 key

Key to figures above. Only figures with a reasonable to high degree of certainty have been identified. Courtesy The Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre, Melbourne

  1. Alf Goulding
  2. Fred Bindloss, also used the names Fred Stewart and Fred Pollard
  3. Harold De Kuyper, also used the name Harold Hill
  4. Jack Cherry
  5. Arthur Pollard
  6. Emma Thomas
  7. Oscar Heintz
  8. Mr Levy
  9. Minnie Topping
  10. Florrie Sharp
  11. Irene Goulding
  12. Annie Moore Horley
  13. Ivy Trott
  14. One of the Pollards. Ernest? Charles?
  15. Willie Thomas
  16. Nellie Chester
  17. Fifi Banvard
  18. Irene Finlay
  19. Olive Moore
  20. Daphne Trott, later used the name Daphne Pollard
  21. May Martin

This site has been selected for archiving and preservation in the National Library of Australia’s Pandora archive