The Wombles

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The Wombles are fictional pointy-nosed, furry creatures that live in burrows, where they help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in useful and ingenious ways. Wombles were created by author Elisabeth Beresford, originally appearing in a series of children's novels from 1968. Although Wombles supposedly live in every country in the world, the stories are concerned with the life of the inhabitants of the burrow on Wimbledon Common in London, England.

The characters became nationally famous in the UK in the mid 1970s as a result of a very popular BBC children's television show using stop motion animation. A number of spin-off novelty songs also became major hits in the British music charts.

The Womble motto is "Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish." This "green" message was a reflection of the growing ecology movement of the 1970s.[citation needed]



Elisabeth Beresford was a freelance ghost writer and children's book author. She was born in Paris and travelled the world with her BBC sports commentator husband Max Robertson.

One Christmas, Elisabeth Beresford took her young children for a Boxing Day walk on Wimbledon Common, where one referred to it as "Wombledon Common." On getting home, Elisabeth Beresford wrote down the idea and started developing the characters and storylines.[1]


Beresford developed the characters around members of her family, and named them after places the family had associations with:[1]

  • Great Uncle Bulgaria - the Wombles' leader, was based on Beresford's father-in-law
  • Tobermory - an engineer, was based on Beresford's brother, a skilled inventor, and named after the capital of the Isle of Mull
  • Orinoco - a shirker who loved sleep and food, was styled on Beresford's teenage son and named after the River Orinoco
  • Bungo - over-enthusiastic and bossy named after Bungo Province
  • Tomsk - an athletic Womble with a rather low IQ named after Tomsk in Russia..
  • Wellington - scientifically inclined, named after her nephew's school
  • Madame Cholet - a cook, was styled on Beresford's mother.
  • Alderney - Madame Cholet's assistant, was named after Alderney in the Channel Islands where Beresford lived at the time of the second television series.
  • Miss Adelaide - schoolmistress

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