Bert Codman

Anything relevant

Bert Codman

Postby Nick Jackson » 15 Jun 2014, 20:19

Herewith, a couple of pics of Bert Codman I hadn't seen before:

Image

Image
Last edited by Nick Jackson on 15 Jun 2014, 21:02, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 379
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Chris » 15 Jun 2014, 20:58

I think I remember the first one Nick, but the one with the wheels is one I'm delighted to see. Bert was always co-operative with the press and consequently got lots of newspaper publicity. There must be hundreds of pictures of him, his show, and of course Toby, in existence. He was also a popular subject for photographic amateurs and I know of at least one picture which came first in a prestigious photographic competition.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Nick Jackson » 15 Jun 2014, 21:04

Click on this link: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/
and search "Codman" – there are quite a few of Bert.
I'm just downloading one of Jack.
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 379
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Chris » 15 Jun 2014, 21:46

The picture of Bert Codman's Toby smaking a pipe was taken during the 1968 International Puppet Festival which I directed. Bert was part of the festival officially, but as resident Punch Prof in Colwyn Bay he gained a great deal of publicity and his willingness to co-operate with press photographers and the appeal of Toby who would patiently pose with a cigarette, pipe, sunglasses or whatever Bert required, made Bert a journalists' friend. The festival was a week long and the journalists were expected to get at least one story and a picture every day.
I remember Bert bringing the Evening News into the pub to show off the Toby picture. Happy days!
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Nick Jackson » 16 Jun 2014, 07:44

Notice that Bert's show proclaims "Est 1854" when it was actually 1860. Showman's licence, perhaps?
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 379
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Chris » 16 Jun 2014, 09:42

I assume that an impressionistic attitude to actuality is a family trait, especially where publicity is concerned. One might cite Codlin, Ketch or the number of times an invaluable set of puppets have been stolen! I remember when constructing the family tree I researched a host of press cuttings (World's Fair, Stage, and Liverpool and Llandudno papers) I noticed how dates and incidents varied considerably.

And really I can't criticise them. I too, when dealing with reporters tend to take the attitude of "if not sure then guess". Given the ability of our press to create their own inaccuracy I feel that's good enough!
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Nick Jackson » 16 Jun 2014, 18:21

And I certainly can't criticise: the front of my show proclaims "Established 1662".
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 379
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Chris » 16 Jun 2014, 22:47

Nick wrote:
Notice that Bert's show proclaims "Est 1854" when it was actually 1860. Showman's licence, perhaps?



Actually Bert's claim may be accurate:
Colin Owen talks to Mrs Ann Codman as the Codman's 120-year links with Llandudno come to temporary end. (Weekly News, April 1983)
THE death of a horse, one day in the middle of the last century, is responsible for countless children in Llandudno having a million laughs in the years which followed.

The horse belonged to a Romany wanderer from Norwich who had no other trans­port so decided to settle in Llandudno. Next day, he went to the beach, collected drift­wood and started carving puppets. His name was Richard Cod-man and he was the founder of the town's Punch and Judy Show, which is still going strong today.

"Richard was travelling around the country, presenting Punch and Judy shows in fairgrounds," said Mrs. Anne Codman, widow of Richard's grandson, Jack. "For some reason he came to Llandudno, and, apparently, the horse which pulled his small caravan collapsed and died near where the Links Hotel is situated.

"He decided to stay in the town and present his shows on the Great Orme for the entertainment of the copper miners. "The figures which he carved from driftwood are still in use today, and there are 80 of them." Richard then decided he would like to present his show on the promenade. He asked the town council who were at first reluctant to allow him to use the promenade because they thought Punch was not dignified enough for Llandudno.Richard said "I will bring my show for you to see at the town hall. It may help you change your minds," he told councillors.

He did, they changed their minds and, in 1860. Richard Started his performances on Llandudno's promenade, near the pier gates, where the shows have carried on, every Summer, even throughout the war years.


So if the promenade shows started 1860 then those shows on the Great Orme (in Happy Valley) must have been earlier? Therefore the show was established pre-1860?
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Nick Jackson » 16 Jun 2014, 23:12

Happy Valley was a later addition - for one of the Eistedfodds?

Jack always insisted Richard started the show started in 1860 near the Empire Hotel, then Llandudno's first department store. (He'd married Charlotte Asker in Birmingham the year before.) The prom was still under construction then and, when it was opened, was considered for too posh for a Punch and Judy show. Permission was only granted in 1864. Codman and the bird man, Ferrini, were the only entertainers allowed onto the promenade - to this day, you cannot buy an ice-cream unless you go onto the pier or into the side streets. Codman and Ferrini did not get on and there are some wonderful reports in the papers of the time about their public fights - will post when I find them. One one occasion, Ferrini threatened to cut Codman open from throat to belly "like a herring".

Reading this again, I think Mrs Codman may be wrong to say that Richard was already a Punchman when he arrived in Llandudno: all other records say he was a fiddler player and possibly a bare-fist fighter. Many details will be lost in history. But we should be able to check out the date of the prom - and I'm sure it's later than 1860.
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 379
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Chris » 17 Jun 2014, 19:30

Yes Nick, I realise the Happy Valley as an attraction area was later - but the location was there. I like the idea of him entertaining the miners which is a detail I wouldn't have thought Ann would have made up.
But if the Prom debut was in 1864 as opposed to 1860, then Bert's 1854 becomes more understandable as a mistake either by him or by the sign writer.

Whether Richard 1 was already a Punchman when he arrived in Llandudno I don't know - but I think that he had previously worked with puppets and dogs. If he had been a Punch man as such then he surely would have had a set of dolls already. I think you are right that it is doubtful that he was already a Punch performer - but I think it also unlikely that he carved puppets and produced a show without some prior experience of carving and of puppetry.

I would guess that he had tried his hand at many things, just as his father, George, seems to have done. I think he has a different profession in each census where he is listed.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Nick Jackson » 17 Jun 2014, 19:39

She was definitely right about the miners. I've read somewhere about one of them going round the back of the show and then shouting, "Oi, Dai. The whole thing's a fake. There's a fella in here."

One thought about 1854: This could be the year that Richard set off as an entertainer (rather than just a Punchman). It was this way of life, travelling the fairs etc, which brought him into contact with Charlotte Asker who he met in Birmingham and married in 1859 – the two went off on their travels and, a year later, arrived in Llandudno. According to various fairground folk websites, Charlotte was some sort of acrobat in the circus. But I've also heard she was a bare-fist fighter!
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 379
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Chris » 17 Jun 2014, 19:56

By the way Nick, a little correction. You can buy ice cream on the prom in Llandudno, and have been able to do so for the past 10 years.

The ban on the commercialisation of the promenade was not the wish of the Council but the decree of Mostyn Estates who owned (and still do) all the freehold of Llandudno. That is why the hotels have to be painted regularly, and in approved colour schemes. That is why we were stopped from having a puppet theatre in Mostyn Street in 1957. We had the building but Mostyn Estates disallowed the change of use for the reason that "there were already enough places of entertainment in the town".

But there are ways apparently. Ten years ago or so someone managed to get permission to open a cafe on the prom near the Craig-y-Don children's paddling pool. The conditions were strict that it had to be built within a shell of an old shelter and must carry no exterior advertising - it must look like a shelter. Then the next year it had an A board outside, then the next year they built an extension and by now it is obviously a seaside snack bar. I personally have no complaints, there needs to be such a facility but it does seem that the hard line can be softened.

Actually Eric and I became friends, through working with an Amateur Dramatic Society, with Lord Mostyn's then Agent. We told him of our previous frustration, and he said that he wished he had know us at the time as he would have been able to arrange things. It often is a case of having contact with the right people at the right time.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Bert Codman

Postby Nick Jackson » 17 Jun 2014, 20:03

Yes, I believe things have changed a little. Last February I was able to cycle on Llandudno promenade for the first time. I parked by the paddling pool, pulled the bike out of the car and determined to cycle to the pier and back. Believe me, cycling is a good way to show how long that prom is and how unfit I am!
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 379
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32


Return to Punch Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron