This is a not-for-profit community event brought to you by David Leech in partnership with the British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild and with the full support of Marlborough Town Council.

Marlborough Puppet Festival is a celebration of the life and legacy of Bob Pelham who is an important part of Marlborough’s heritage and culture and marks the 70th Anniversary of Pelham Puppets. Professional shows, Exhibitions and workshops will all be part of a wonderful weekend of activities on 8th and 9th July 2017.

We want as many people as possible, young people especially, to discover the age of good quality traditional toy making as well as open up to them the exciting world of puppets and puppet theatre.

At one time almost every family in the town knew someone who worked for the company that featured the name of Marlborough Wilts on every puppet box sold – over nine million puppets were produced and distributed to more than twenty countries from 1947 to 1986. 

All the professional artists taking part are significant names within the puppetry sector and by giving emerging artists as well as the young people of Marlborough a chance to work alongside them represents a major opportunity for them to gain insights and experience in developing their artistic practice and interests. 

The artistic activity includes working with the Marlborough Academy of Dance & Drama to produce a stage musical, with free entrance to this performance.

The festival will offer free entrance to 17 indoor performances, 16 outdoor shows, 6 workshops 3 exhibitions, or for a small ticket price, to 10 indoor performances, enabling us to reach new audiences including many who have probably never seen a live puppetry performance before.

This festival is the first step in developing these sector and audience development aims, with plans to support and facilitate more events in future.

Many of the professional puppeteers taking part acknowledge that without the encouragement Bob Pelham gave them when they were young, they probably would not have pursued their chosen careers. So, what better way could Bob Pelham’s life and work be celebrated than to have these puppeteers share their talents and skills for the whole community to enjoy and engage in?

Marlborough Town Council welcomes and enthusiastically supports the proposal to hold a Puppet Festival and have offered the free use of the Town Hall and outside space at Priory Gardens as well as some staff time to help with its organisation.

The Marlborough History Society is also delighted to support it and have already pledged a significant financial contribution and even the local Britain in Bloom committee are keen to be involved. The Merchants House Trust have also offered their support and exhibition space too.

The British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild is a voluntary body established in 1925 and is the longest established organisation of its kind in the world. Since that date, it has organised numerous public activities nationwide bringing people together across the generations in community events large and small.

For the latest updates and developments visit the festival Face Book page HERE 

Some of the Performers who will be appearing in the Festival – subject to funding.

Will McNally

Will McNally is the grandson of the original TV puppeteer, Ann Hogarth who operated Muffin the Mule in the 1940s and 1950s in the children’s television favourite from 1946 to 1955.

Muffin the Mule, Ann Hogarth and her husband, Jan Bussell, were involved in the origins and development of Pelham Puppets in the post-war years and played an important part of the Company’s history by assisting Bob Pelham with the design of his puppets.

During the festival Muffin the Mule and his friends will be in the exhibition hall greeting and entertaining audiences providing inspiring talks and demonstrations that aim to encourage participation in the festival activities.

Clive Chandler

Clive has directed a number of international puppet theatre projects and has worked as the artistic director of many puppet festivals and has been instrumental in advising and guiding David Leech in his preparations for this festival.

Clive has been a puppeteer for more than 30 years. He presents over 300 shows every year – and has been doing so for 30 years. He has a reputation for delivering high quality performances in a variety of settings.

He will be leading the Opening Parade with his giant puppets and skilfully engage the crowds with his walkabout puppets during the rest of the day.

Noisy Oyster

Since forming Noisy Oyster in 2006, Nik Palmer and Sarah Rowland-Barker have devised and performed a number of puppet productions in a variety of styles which they have toured extensively to theatres and festivals throughout the UK and abroad. 

Noisy Oyster will bring a make very exciting and creative addition to the festival programme by providing excellent entertainment and encouraging full participation in the festival activities.

When the king asks for a higgledy piggledy pie for his supper the royal chefs are thrown into a spin, especially when they find the cupboard is bare! Popular rhymes are brought to life using fruit, veg, and a variety of kitchen objects. 
The show features puppets made from vegetables, original music, clowning and a very large pie.

Lori Hopkins

Lori is a puppeteer and performer based in London.

Lori is the puppet operator for a brand new TV series entitled Fairy Sarah and Friends that will air online later this year. When not performing, Lori acts as Puppetry consultant for Shakespeare’s Globe Education. She will perform a delightful new marionette show called the Explorer.

After crash landing on an unusual island, the brave Explorer encounters wild beasts, rough seas and a whole host of surprises that will make imaginations soar. She might need a little help along the way too.

After the show, have all the secrets unlocked in a fun and interactive Question and Answer session deigned for ages 3-8 and even a chance to meet The Explorer herself!




More details will be added shortly. Come back soon.