James Tattersall Ventriloquist & Figure Maker

James Tattersall was a ventriloquist that may have been unique to the ventriloquist world. This performer was popular in England in the 1940’s and 1950’s and built all of his own figures and to my knowledge never sold or made his figures for anyone else. They are truly unique and are very large in size.
I myself was lucky enough to purchase one of his figures from a friend of his in England who was given one of the figures. I subsequently sold that figure to Bob Abdou aka Mr Puppet and it now resides in his collection. This figure is also pictured in the Tribute to Ventriloquism pages under Hard figure Makers. 

Click Here for Ventriloquist Hard Figure Maker’s Page

We were fortunate that our good friend George Boosey sent us in this great video of James Tattersall for everyone to see this clearly unique and very talented ventriloquist perform. I hope you enjoy this video.

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=Jw3VyUbn1a4">http://youtube.com/watch?v=Jw3VyUbn1a4</a>



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11 Responses to James Tattersall Ventriloquist & Figure Maker

  1. Mel says:

    Great to find this video. Jimmy Tattersall was my uncle but I had never seen him performing. I’m sure his wife and children will also take delight in viewing it. Is there a higher quality version available?

    His family still hold some of the dummies he created. Jimmy later went on to create the model village at Haigh Hall, Wigan.

    • Nerida Paterson says:

      Dear Mel,
      I hope your email address is still the same since 2008. I, too, am related to your uncle Jimmy. My maternal grandmother was Emily Hartley who was Ginny Hartley Tattersall’s sister that emigrated to Australia. My mum, Vera, who is about to turn 90, still remembers Frank Tattersall with great fondness as he visited Australia and they corresponded for years. My daughter has just visited Manchester and went to Middleton to look up the old family addresses.
      My son works for the Sydney Theatre Company, so the entertainment genes are still active in the family! Regards, Nerida

      • Heather Brookman says:

        Hi Nerida
        I have tried to contact you via Facebook without success on messenger. I am Heather, daughter of Jimmy Tattersall. I have a daughter living in Sydney who works for Disney. I would love to hear from you. I am coming to Australia in September and we could share family facts.

  2. Bob Smith says:

    I saw Tattersall at the Chiswick Empire, he was incredible. He inspired me to buy a walking body for the Len Insull head I had bought from Davenport’s (for about 5 weeks wages) but I never mastered the body enough to perform with it. Here I am still trying – about 50 years later – Walking Dummy. Tattersall was the ultimate stage ventriloquist, the features, big eyes and articulated limbs on his dummies so clearly seen even from the back seats, where I was. He was a genius with puppet design. I understand his family still have the figures, it would be wonderful if someone were to do a photo essay on how they were constructed. Please?

  3. John Millington says:

    I work on the same street where James Tattersall lived. I was lucky enough to get to know him during the early to mid 1990s. He offered to make us a life size working mechanical man to feature in the window of our new showroom which was a talking point of the village and was very popular with children and adults alike. As far as I can remember we didn’t pay him for it, it wears my old work overalls and jacket. We supplied a lot of the materials from our timber business but he did all the mechanics. We still have it stored and as far as I know it works.

  4. John Millington says:

    I work on the same street that James Tattersall lived on and I got to know him during the early to mid 1990s. He would tell me stories of being on Scottish TV and I would go in his shed and he’d show me his workshop full of wire, motors and plywood for his little projects. In 1994 he made us a life sized mechanical carpenter which he offered to make to put in the window to help customers to come in. He used plywood from our family timber merchants and he used my old work overalls and thermal jacket for the mechanical doll. He gave it one of his own flat caps too. It moves its index finger signalling customers to come in, moves its other arm, moves it head side to side and it also moves its eyes. I remember him demonstrating to to me for the first time. He said about the movements that it was as though the movements indicate, “come in, look around, come in, look around and then he’s pointing at the doors (on display)”

    • Tonya Traylor says:

      Hi John Millington,
      I am a Collector and I treasure the characters of James Tattersall.
      I have 2 novelty ones and have been on a search. If by any chance you ever consider selling the display figure you have in storage please PLEASE think of me.
      I am interested regardless of any issue or condition he may be in.
      Email is Musicprogirl@aol.com
      Thank you so much

  5. Heather Brookman says:

    Hi, I am Jimmy Tattersall’s daughter. Most of my fathers puppets are now with my brother Clive in Stockport, as when I moved to Dorset, where I now live, I didn’t have room for them. I do have Rosabelle and Hoppy who didn’t feature in his stage act but were in pantomime with him and then on Scottish TV for the children’s programme Mr. Fixit. I also have lots of theatre bills and other memorabilia. My father would have been 100 this Thursday 17th November, had he lived.
    I have been trying to work on family history, in the hopes of discovering more about another ventriloquist called Rob Tattersall, to see if there is any relation. I have his photo a with puppets, looks Victorian but no success as yet. Good to hear from Nerida, we must get in touch. My daughter lives in Sydney and works in television and film for Disney.

  6. Sue Barbour says:

    I have the only PhD of Variety Theatre and remember watching Jimmy Tattersall’s on quite a few occassions. I particularly remember the Chelsea Pensioner and lady, who moved across the stage on their own! My parents did a Speciality Act too but didn’t clash with Jimmy as they did a song and dance act on stilts but also used marionettes. One of the dates I remember was Hull Continental. This was one of the first clubs that booked acts who had appeared in Variety.

    I would love to interview Clive or Heather for the British Library Theatre Archive project as I am also interviewing ‘Children of Variety’ like myself.

    Dr Sue Barbour

    • Heather Brookman says:

      Hi Sue
      I would be very happy to be interviewed by you. I do remember an act on stilts with puppets. Sure I saw them somewhere.
      I would be very interested to chat and show you lots of memorabilia such as theatre bills, programmes and photographs.
      How shall we organise this?

    • Heather Brookman says:

      It was good to read your letter on ventriloquist central. Please do contact me at the above email address so we can have a chat.
      Heather Brookman

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