Ventriloquist and Builder James Tattersall


Not too long ago I wrote up a blog about the James Tattersall figure which came back to the Ventriloquist Central Collection I inadvertently made statements on his not allowing any figures outside of this one which I now have. Well I stand corrected and I am happy to say it. I was just contacted by his daughter Heather and she has set me straight about the facts.

Here is the email she sent me:

Hello, I am James Tattersall’s daughter and I read with interest your article on my father and the vent doll that you recently added to your collection of his. I am very pleased that you regard him so highly. I would just like to correct you on a couple of matters and add some more info. My father did make vent dolls for other ventriloquists and even made one for Jack Jones when he was a boy. I have a photograph of them together. Also one for Rochester. He made the drunk doll ‘Wee Willy Drinkall’ that made Jack Beckett famous. He made one of the talking shoes (the better one) for a vent- (can’t remember his name) and many more.

Dad went into model village making in his later years, as you will see in the video clip. He developed the model village at Haigh Hall, Wigan and each Christmas built a special Christmas grotto with live size dolls such as Father Christmas or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I don’t know what happened to those. He also built some models for Ken Dodd: The Jam Butty factory with its diddy men and a coal mine with Diddly men.

My brother has the organist from Dad’s act, Tony and the old man and the old woman. Unfortunately, Dad sold most of his dolls as he got older such as the drunk doll and the dog and the duck. Where are they now? I have Hoppy and Rosabel, which were the main characters from the Scottish TV children’s series Mr. Fixit that he was involved with for 3 years in the 60s.

He made all the puppets and scenery for that. I have many photographs of his act and other famous acts he worked with, as well as newspaper cuttings and many old theatre bills. As to who the ‘best friend’ was who had this doll I don’t know and I certainly don’t recognize this doll but he made so many. Hope this helps. I do enjoy reading your news letters when I get chance but I fear I may have missed some that mentioned my father.

Kind regards, Heather Brookman (nee Tattersall)


Thanks Heather for all the information and now I am sure everyone will be searching for more of James’ figures.



Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to:

Copyright 2011 by Dan Willinger

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5 Responses to Ventriloquist and Builder James Tattersall

  1. bob isaacson says:

    That was a wonderful letter that Tattersall’s daughter wrote regarding the history of all her fathers Vent work & other works of his. Glad she has all that history, it’s important for the Vents to know these facts. Thanks

  2. Steven Wainwright says:

    I was thrilled to read the letter from Jim`s Daughter,but I feel I must correct her a little. I worked with Jim in 1981 on an outdoor model village,we built it together from scratch. Before I teamed up with Jim he had already built an indoor model village up at Haigh Hall in Wigan,which was on show to the public 7 days a week (for a small entry fee),at Christmas we built a small display in the Hall itself and put a few festive touches to the indoor village.
    I went back up to Haigh Hall a few Years ago to see if I could make a small documentary about his work and my experiences of working with him..and enquired about the indoor village as I would have liked to get that on film too,but I was told that the barn that it was displayed in had been broken into by vandals..and Everything inside had been destroyed.
    I miss Jim,he still fills my head from time to time..and I would love to meet his Daughter..I would be delighted if you could let her know of my request.

    • Heather Brookman says:

      Hi Steve,
      I have only recently discovered your email written four years ago! I am Heather, daughter of Jim Tattersall. Unless someone looks on this site specifically they don’t know there are messages for them so I hope you get this. If you do please email me at:
      Hope to hear from you and please read my reply below your email on Ventriliquist central.

  3. tonya says:

    Wonderful history.
    Thank you for sharing

  4. Heather Brookman says:

    Hi Steven, would you believe 4 years later I have only just seen your message. It would have been my fathers 100th birthday this year so my brother and I are keen to do something special with his puppets and memorabilia. After that we may consider selling them. I am sorry I didn’t acknowledge your work at Haig Hall, I just remember dad working there with Adele, who I would also love to hear from. I have photos of the models from Haigh Hall. My brother and I were going to go back to find the village, so I am very disappointed to hear it was destroyed. You said you wanted to film it? Are you in the film industry? We would like to put an exhibition of his work together this year and would be pleased to hear from any one with more information, Tattersall puppets or photos. Heather

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