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)

Children of Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company with US soldiers in Manila. c 1903. Courtesy the Performing Arts Collection, Arts Centre, Melbourne.

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, or Sydney. The occasionally tested their shows in Brisbane Queensland before moving on to South East Asian ports.

The various Pollard Tours

Using Peter Downes work as the basis, we can define the Pollard troupes this way:

  • 1880-1886 James Pollard‘s (Original) Lilliputians (mostly comprising his own children)
  • 1891-1905 Tom Pollard‘s Lilliputians aka the Pollard Opera Company (Australasia, the Far East and South Africa, according to Downes)
  • 1907-1908 Tom Pollard‘s Juvenile Opera Company (mostly Australasia)
  • 1896-1909 Charles Pollard & Nellie Chester nee Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Companies (one to South Africa, then generally to the Far East and North America)
  • 1909-1910 Arthur Pollard‘s Company (to the Far East and India)
  • 1909-1914 Nellie Chester nee Pollard’s “Pollard Company” (only active in North America but comprising many Australians)
  • 1900-1903 Harry Hall’s Juveniles (to South Africa). A company run by Hall and Alice Landeshut nee Pollard, comprising many former Pollard players.

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.

Pollards troupe in Vancouver, c1902-5. Courtesy Vancouver As It Was.

Further reading and links

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

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