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Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:00 am    Post subject: Heysham Head Reply with quote

I’ve recently been doing some research into the intriguingly large number of Puppet Companies who appeared at Heysham Head, Morecambe, over the years (Heysham Head was an Amusement Park just South of Morecambe).

Peter Charlton wrote an excellent article for the Puppet Master in 1999 on the long residency at Heysham of the De Randel Marionettes, with their trade mark character “Yorkshire Bob.” He mentioned in the same article, that he thought John Dudley had played a season there, so as I bumped into John at the Tropiquaria meeting last month, I was able to ask him if that was correct. John confirmed that it was and also provided details on Wolohan’s Marionettes and the Dalibors’ Heysham seasons.

Also at the Tropiquaria meeting, I bought Chris Abbott’s book “An East Anglian Odyssey” on the history of the DaSilva Puppet Company, which details Ray & Joan’s season at Heysham in 1967.

So far, I have been able to fill in the following dates (some are guess work)
1923 – 1941: D’Albert on Morecambe Beach
Late 1940s to mid-1950s: The De Randel Marionettes
Mid to late 1950s: The Dalibors
1961: Wolohans Marionettes
1962: Dudley Marionettes
1967: DaSilva Marionettes.

Does anyone have recollections of any other Puppet Companies appearing at Heysham?
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Peter



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
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Location: London

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Ian,
I spent a lot of time at Heysham Head as a child - a wonderful playground for children & adults. there was a circus and concert party as well as a zoo (bit grotty) gardens etc. I can't recall any other puppets there. But if you're including Morecambe (Morecambe & Heysham though different places to us locals as presumed to be the same place by others), the Winter Gardens sometimes featured puppets. I think Jane Phillips played there with "The Water Babies" (?) - very long-string marionettes if I remember rightly.
Peter C.
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Chris
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Joined: 02 Oct 2007
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Location: North Wales

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 10:14 pm    Post subject: D'Albert Reply with quote

Ian mentions D'Albert at Morecombe. Here they are in 1939 on Morecombe beach.

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Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the picture Chris. I had only previously seen a photo of D’Albert’s 1923 Punch booth, which was fairly traditional with a bolt-on proscenium. I understand he modified the booth for marionettes in about 1925, so I was curious to see what the modified version looked like.

The last time we were in Morecambe and I was working on an article for the Puppet Master, I went through all the books of black and white photos of old Morecambe in the Tourist Information Centre, in the hope of finding a picture of D’Albert, but I didn’t come across anything.

The 'Seven Dwarfs' in the picture used to be on display at the Abbots Bromley Puppet Museum and there were many duplicate versions of them in various formations on single and multiple controls, some with musical instruments. It must have been a very ambitious production to try to present inside a booth on the beach.
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James



Joined: 09 Oct 2007
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Location: London, SW6

PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And judging by the picture ever so slightly stolen from Mr Disney.
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Chris
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's right. Puppeteers where very taken with Snow White and many were the copies made. The Disney cartoon designs were so temptingly puppety, and what was even more tempting was the fact that the songs from the Disney soundtracks were available on records. Not a few puppet companies had Snow White singing "I'm Wishing" only to be joined by Prince Charming. This was all without permission and quite illegal. I say this because it was Disney policy not to give such permission.

And I know this to be so because Eric Bramall made a Pinocchio and Jimminy Cricket based on the Disney cartoon designs. He wrote to Disney sending photographs of the puppets and requested permission to use them in a credited sequence. Disney refused and explained their policy.

Eric was reluctant to waste a puppet; so black haired Italian Pinocchio became blond, was given a Tyrolean blouse and shorts, a hat with a feather, and was re-christened Kasperl. The puppet became a very popular part of Eric's cabaret, and many years later got his own series on BBC(Wales) television where his name was changed to Huwcyn y hogyn pren (Hugh, the little wooden boy).



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Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Attached (fingers crossed – first attempt) is a picture of one of D’Albert’s marionettes made when he was working to his own design. Perhaps it was no bad thing that he fell under the Disney Studios spell because his figures, once he had a brilliant design to work to, were vastly superior. Maybe it was unfortunate that he chose to produce such exact replicas of such instantly recognisable designs, rather than take Eric’s approach with Kasperl, of being influenced by a design style of the moment, but to draw on other ideas too and still make the finished product sufficiently different to be very much his own.

None of the Disney-influenced marionettes are currently displayed in the Douglas Hayward Collection at Shugborough, because it would be unfair to a great showman if the subject of comment about his puppets as visitors passed through the exhibition was that they were copies, so the limited space is used to display the three D’Albert figures which appear in the Douglas Fisher video “Marionette Masterclass”, which is a shame, because his Seven Dwarfs and particularly his Gepetto operating a tiny Pinocchio Marionette are really beautiful examples of D’Albert’s finest work as a puppet-maker.

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Timbo



Joined: 22 Feb 2008
Posts: 58
Location: London

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris wrote:
That's right. Puppeteers where very taken with Snow White and many were the copies made. The Disney cartoon designs were so temptingly puppety, and what was even more tempting was the fact that the songs from the Disney soundtracks were available on records. Not a few puppet companies had Snow White singing "I'm Wishing" only to be joined by Prince Charming. This was all without permission and quite illegal. I say this because it was Disney policy not to give such permission.

And I know this to be so because Eric Bramall made a Pinocchio and Jimminy Cricket based on the Disney cartoon designs. He wrote to Disney sending photographs of the puppets and requested permission to use them in a credited sequence. Disney refused and explained their policy.

Eric was reluctant to waste a puppet; so black haired Italian Pinocchio became blond, was given a Tyrolean blouse and shorts, a hat with a feather, and was re-christened Kasperl. The puppet became a very popular part of Eric's cabaret, and many years later got his own series on BBC(Wales) television where his name was changed to Huwcyn y hogyn pren (Hugh, the little wooden boy).




Oh yes I remember Kasperl and always thought he was Pinocchios brother, If I am right in recalling he was presented on the fore stage and would trip over Erics toe then sit on it.
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martin@no10



Joined: 09 Oct 2007
Posts: 18
Location: Inverness

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although a few miles further south than Morecambe & Heysham Head, Bilton's Marionettes performed with a marionette booth at Fleetwood, possibly on or near the beach - I believe they were located there for quite a number of years, in addition to touring and performing in stores, such as Edward Grey's Ltd in Birmingham. There is an interesting reference to his show in Walter Wilkinson's "Puppets Through Lancashire". Bilton I think would have been an interesting character - he acquired many figures from the Gorno family from Italy. I believe Bilton started with puppets in the 20s and continued certainly into the 40s but not sure when he stopped.

Martin
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John Linsie



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2010 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

martin@no10 wrote:
Although a few miles further south than Morecambe & Heysham Head, Bilton's Marionettes performed with a marionette booth at Fleetwood, possibly on or near the beach - I believe they were located there for quite a number of years, in addition to touring and performing in stores, such as Edward Grey's Ltd in Birmingham. There is an interesting reference to his show in Walter Wilkinson's "Puppets Through Lancashire". Bilton I think would have been an interesting character - he acquired many figures from the Gorno family from Italy. I believe Bilton started with puppets in the 20s and continued certainly into the 40s but not sure when he stopped.

Martin

I well remember Bilton's Marrionettes at Fleetwood. Initially the show was in a tent on the beach. Between the Lifeboat Satation and the Pier. But soon the show moved to a hut near the children's bathing pool. With rows of seats. Bilton collected the money with the chant: "Thank you what a lot of thank yous.". The show consisted of versions of the well known pantomimes - such as Aladdin. Not sure when he stopped but was certainly there up to the beginning of the war. Great stuff. I still remember my father asking him on my behalf how to make a marrionette. Bilton drew a simple sketch on the innards of a fag packet!
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Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for picking up this thread John. I always find it fascinating to read first-hand accounts of these long-forgotten showmen. It's often those little throw-away lines, like the one you quote when he collected the money, that you remember most isn't it? I hadn't heard of Bilton's until Martin mentioned them, but if a lot of the figures were Italian origin, they must have been quite something to see.
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torrolocosgranny



Joined: 10 Aug 2010
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:38 pm    Post subject: Bilton's marionettes Reply with quote

I've found some interesting images of Bilton's marionettes from Fleetwood. I've heard lots of stories and memories from summer holidays spent in Fleetwood but the memories that stand out most are of the marionetttes. One lady commented that they were 'the ugliest' she'd ever seen! I find this hard to believe. I'll see if I can post the images.

Sorry, can't post images because I'm new Sad

There are a few more but I don't want to take up the whole page with them!

Does anybody know where the marionettes went after the shows finished? The 3 main shows I've heard about are The Willow Patern Plate, Little Red Riding Hood and Caliban(?) (but wasn't Caliban only a character?) If anybody has an info on Bilton or photos, I would really appreciate it.

Sarah
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Ian



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sarah.

As far as I understand it, it's just on your first post that you can't add an image, I think if you 'reply' again, it should work next time.

It would be good to see what they looked like, even if you only manage to post one image.
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Chris
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Joined: 02 Oct 2007
Posts: 201
Location: North Wales

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Add image to post button offers you the choice of Uploading an IMAGE or MANY IMAGES
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John Giddins



Joined: 17 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funnily enough I have just come back from a nostalgic visit to Fleetwood and went into the museum. There is water colour painting of Biltons Marionettes and like other postees it brought back vivid memories of childhood holidays at Fleetwood. We used to rent a chalet in front of the paddling pool and used to watch the marionette show every day it was on. I think they used to sell black and white photos of the puppets. Would love to see the pictures up on this site.
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