The Vernons Girls were assembled in Liverpool by the Vernons football pools company in the 1950s when Vernons – employers to 8,000 female coupon checkers – decided to collect together female members of staff to form their own choir.
The original number was 70 members but gradually, over the years, the choir was reduced in size to sixteen.
These 16 Vernons Girls became very well known via personal appearances and television, singing on the ITV show Oh Boy! – often divided up into smaller groups – with the house band in the late 1950s.
Visually, the most striking member was blonde-haired Maggie Stredder, who stood out because the ever-shrewd Jack Good had persuaded her – much against her wishes – to wear stylish horn-rimmed glasses on screen as a gimmick.
Stredder later used her prominence to form a breakaway trio that, under the name The Ladybirds, became backing singers on Top Of The Pops and fixtures on many many television shows (including a regular spot on The Benny Hill Show).
The Vernons Girls also worked as session singers for Decca and appeared on dozens of hits into the 1960s – one of the first being Billy Fury‘s Maybe Tomorrow.
In December 1961, Vernons decided to reduce the troupe to just three. On account of their looks and vocal abilities, they chose brunettes Maureen Kennedy (21), Jean Owen (18) and blonde Frances Lee (22).
The first disc cut by the new Vernons Girls was a cover of Clyde McPhatter‘s Lover Please (April 1962). They eventually charted in the US with the first Beatles tribute there, We Love The Beatles (1964) – retitled Beatlemania in the US to avoid confusion with the We Love You Beatles hit by The Carefrees (comprising a couple of other ex-Vernons Girls, Lyn Cornell and Betty Prescott).
Jean Owen left the trio and signed with United Artists to record as Samantha Jones. The remaining pair brought in London vocalist Jane Sutton as their new lead singer, releasing one further Decca single, an outdated version of It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie.
The Vernons Girls officially disbanded in April 1965.