The Wombles of Alderney

Womble sculptures have been unveiled on Alderney to celebrate the life of the creator of the Wombles, Elisabeth Beresford, who made the island her home for more than 30 years. 

The fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures who live underground on Wimbledon Common burrowed their way into millions of hearts worldwide in the 1970s, and their dedication to recycling human rubbish was years ahead of its time. 

Harbour Womble

Madame Cholet at the harbour

The four-feet high Womble sculptures have been hand-carved with a chainsaw by Manchester-based artist Mike Burgess and organised by the Guernsey Lions  Club following the success of their ‘Wind in the Willows trail’ around Les Vardes Quarry nature walk in Guernsey, which was part of a children’s mental wellbeing initiative. Mr Burgess was also responsible for the Wind in the Willows characters.

You can now follow the Alderney Womble trail and learn about the very relevant Womble motto ‘Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish’. Madame Cholet (at the harbour), Great Uncle Bulgaria (at the airport) and Tobermory (at Mannez train station) are joined by a blonde hedgehog reading a Womble book near the community woodland.

Mr Bulgaria

Great Uncle Bulgaria at the airport


Tobermory at Mannez train station

In addition, a children’s ‘whisper seat’, has been placed at the Butes playground where children can sit and put their arm around Orinoco on one side or a large lions head (representing Guernsey Lions Club) on the other, and then whisper all their thoughts.

Whisper Seat Wombles

Whisper Seat at the Butes

The Blonde Hedgehog Womble

A Blonde Hedgehog reading The Wombles, near the Community Woodland

History of The Wombles

Born into a family with many literary connections, Elisabeth Beresford was an author and worked as a journalist. She created the Wombles in 1968 after her daughter Kate sparked inspiration when she mispronounced Wimbledon Common during a Boxing Day stroll. ‘Ma, isn't it great on Wombledon Common?’ 

On getting home, Elisabeth wrote down the idea and started developing the characters and book storylines. She developed most of the Womble characters around members of her family and named some after places the family had associations with, including one called ‘Alderney’ where they had been holidaying since the early 1960s.

Alderney was Madame Cholet's assistant. A precocious young Womble with a slight disregard for the rules! The loveable eco-friendly Womble book characters reached a wider audience in the 1970s after a children’s highly successful TV show was launched using stop motion animation. A number of spin-off novelty songs, performed by ‘The Wombles’ pop group, also became huge chart-topping hits.

Elisabeth Bereford Home

The Blue Plaque on Elisabeth's former home

Elisabeth moved permanently to Alderney in 1978, when Womble fever was gripping the world, with her husband, broadcaster Max Robertson and children. She completely immersed herself into the island community and was a much-loved character, often reading her stories to the island children.

Between 1991 and 1994 she served as a States Member of Alderney and took a particular interest in children’s education. As well as writing more than 20 Womble books, Elisabeth wrote a variety of other adventure and mystery books for children, many based on Alderney. She was awarded an MBE for her services to children's literature in 1998. Elisabeth died on 24 December 2010 aged 84 and her ashes are interred in Alderney’s St Anne’s Church graveyard.

Elisabeth’s original Womble soft toys were donated by her family to the Alderney branch of Cancer Research UK and are now on display at the Alderney Museum. A Blue Plaque also celebrates the house where Elisabeth lived in Little Street.