RONDART was a Durham legend – the man who toured the world spitting darts in a unique variety act.

He would place a dart sideways in his mouth and somehow propel it with perfect accuracy at a dartboard 9ft away, competing with players who were throwing normally from the oche.

Then he would go back to 18ft, and blow darts at the board, nearly always landing in the bullseye. Or he would blow them into the neck of a bottle.

And then, to add an element of danger, he would become William Tell, propelling darts from his mouth from a great distance so that they knocked a cigarette off a man’s head, or they burst a balloon held by his glamorous assistant. His show would end with him spitting a dart that cut a piece of cotton which dropped down a banner which said: “That’s all folks.”

Rondart was born Ronnie Tomlinson in West Auckland in 1929, and in the 1950s, he appeared on stage with Stan Laurel, Frankie Vaughan and Larry Grayson. In 1965, he appeared on prime-time BBC1 in Billy Smart’s Circus; in 1967, he appeared on television in Japan; in 1985, he appeared on The Paul Daniels Magic Show on BBC1, and in 1995, he made his last TV appearance on the Spanish version of the Generation Game.

He retired to Witton Park and started work on his autobiography – it was going to be called I Blew It – and seems to have rekindled a childhood friendship with Ronnie and Dennis Pounder, who were of a similar age and had also grown up in West Auckland. They may well have been with Rondart as he honed his spitting skills as a teenager in the Greyhound and the working men’s club.

Rondart died in 2005, Dennis in 2012 and last September, aged 94, Ronnie died. Among his possessions, his daughter Elaine Vizor discovered a cherished collection of items that Rondart had given him over the years.

The collection includes signed publicity posters of Rondart with his South American wife Cristina, who doubled as his glamorous assistant and who we believe still lives in her native Colombia.

There are also a couple of dozen of Rondart’s darts – complete with teethmarks around the wooden barrels.

There’s even a practice dartboard which appears to have travelled around the world with him.

There are posters and programmes from around the country, including one from the Darlington Civic Theatre (now, of course, the Hippodrome) where Rondart appeared in a weeklong show called A Night at the Music Hall in April 1987.

Alongside him were Charlie Williams, the first well known black stand-up comedian, and Bobby Crush, who was billed as “Britain’s top piano entertainer”. Top of the bill were “everybody’s favourites”, the Beverley Sisters.

The question now is what is Elaine to do with the collection, which she wants to be seen and ideally to remain in the area.

“It’s a privilege to have access to this small treasury of artefacts which my dad was determined should be preserved,” she says. “It tells a little of a fulfilled life. It is the life of a great, gifted and unique variety entertainer who is a local legend who should not be forgotten.

“West Auckland is the home of the first World Cup and it is also the home of the world’s first, and only, the greatest and unsurpassed, variety dart blowing entertainer, Rondart.”

Anyone with any ideas or suggestions, please email

THE other obvious question is how Rondart came by his unique skills. It seems most likely that Ron’s father was wounded in the trenches of the First World War and lost the full use of his arms. This prevented him from playing darts, which had exploded in popularity in the 1930s, until he developed his oral technique, which propelled the darts from the mouth using a combination of tongue power and spit force.

This technique was then taught to two younger members of the family: Stephen “Syd” Hall and Ronald “Rondart” Tomlinson.

By happy coincidence, the story of Stephen “Syd” Hall is told in the new Memories book, Secret Darlington, which would make a fabulous Christmas present.

Syd was perhaps 20 years older than Rondart and he developed a dart-spitting act in the 1930s in the south Durham pubs and cinemas. He earned good beer money, although he didn’t give up his day job at Cleveland Bridge.

He was particularly renowned for his appearances in the interval at the Arcade Cinema in Skinnergate, in Darlington, where he could spit darts from the front row of the circle over the heads of the patrons down below and onto a bullseye on the screen.

On March 18, 1938, Syd was crowned the first Pouff Darts Champion of the World by the Daily Mirror after an exciting blow-off against six other competitors at the Dorchester Hotel in London.

Indeed, Syd was the first and only World Pouff Darts Champion as the Mirror didn’t hold a second contest in 1939 – the nation had other, more serious, things on its mind beyond pouff-dartery.

The baton then passed to Rondart, who from the age of eight started learning the skills from his father and his uncle Syd, who died of lung cancer in 1956.

Rondart remembered as a boy blowing at dart at the pantry door of his West Auckland home. There was a small hole about 4ft above ground level in the door, and Rondart’s greatest joy was to open the door and collect his dart from the pantry having blown it through the hole.

At the age of 12 in 1942, Rondart was able to spit a dart so it removed a lit cigarette from a holder on his sister’s head. He appeared on The Discovery Show, and landed a £2-a-week role in London’s West End. He toured the country as a teenage dart-spitting sensation until he was called up for national service. His time in the RAF finished in 1949, and he turned pro as a unique act on the cabaret circuit. He quickly gained an international reputation – in 1953, for instance, he toured the Netherlands.

In the 1960s and 1970s, variety entertainment – a modern version of the music hall which had been popular in Edwardian times - was big business around the world and, as the collection of Rondart artefacts shows, he was able to forge a remarkable 40-year career as a dart-blower.

L Are you connected to Rondart’s family, or do you have any information on him or Syd Hall, the world’s first and only Dart Pouffing Champion? Please email