Weekly News. Thursday April 21st 1983

PLAQUE FOR PUNCH


The Codman family are as pleased as Punch over a recommendation this week that a plaque should be put up to celebrate their long link with Llandudno's entertainment scene.
Llandudno Town Coun cil's community services committee on Friday suggested that a plaque be fixed to a tree near the Promenade booth where three generations of Codmans presented their Punch and Judy shows.
Proposing the Codman commemoration, Councillor Philip Evans told how Richard Codman staged the shows from 1863 to 1909, his son Herbert from 1909 to 1960, and grandson John from 1960 to 1980.
All three should be remembered, said Councillor Evans. The family had lived in Llandudno for well over 100 years and were .also known outside the area.
John Codman's widow Anne said she was delighted with the committee's proposal. "It's a great honour for the family."
She added that she would like to see the plaque put up either on her home, Punchi nello Cottage in Bodafon Street, where Mr. Richard Codman first settled in Llandudno, or on a tree near the Promenade "pitch" where the Punch and Judy shows were staged.

HOW A DEAD HORSE BROUGHT PUNCH TO LIFE

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.

Richard's son, Herbert, took over from his father in 1909. Herbert, a veteran ot the Boer War, had been trained since he was young and made sure that his son, Jack, learned the art too.

Herbert died in 1960 and Jack took over then. Jack, a cafe-owner for many years, had spent all his life in the town, apart from war service with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. When he became ill, shortly before his death in 1980, he begged his son-in-law, Morris Millband, who lives at Hillside, Betws-y-coed, not to let the show die. Morris, then serving with the RAF, promised his father-in-law that he would keep the family tradition going and practiced until he was proficient enough to perform during the Summer Season.

But Morris has been unable to present the show this year as he now has a job which takes up most of his time. But Mrs Codman is determined that the show should go on and has engaged a Coventry Punch and Judy man for the season.

Morris' son, Jason, who will shortly be 15, Was already mastered much of the art and he intends taking over next year. This Summer, he will help by going round with the collection plate. Mrs. Codman still lives at Punchinello Cottage, Bodafon Street, where Richard Codman settled in the 1860s. "I'm delighted that Jason is so interested," she said this week.

Now 73, Stoke-born Mrs. Codman says she sometimes stands among the crowd watching the performances which take place at noon 3 pm and 7 pm daily in the Summer.

"Older people often recognise me and tell me that they remember seeing the shows when they were children" she said. She also recalled that Richard had performed before several crowned heads and that "on one occasion he was called to Windsor Castle to entertain Queen Victoria and her family. "He also entertained the Queen of Roumania (who wrote under the pen name of Carmen Sylva) when she visited Llandudno in 1890" she said.


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