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The Pelham History


Pelham puppets were manufactured for over fifty years, and they have quite a history. They were always popular till about the 80’s when children put them to one side for more popular technological toys. This led to the demise of the Pelham Puppet business and eventually, production stopped altogether.

However, today there is renewed interest in these toys, in their history, and that of Bob Pelham, who initially created them.  Collectors here and in America are very keen to get their hands on them. The puppets have become extremely collectable, which has led to some of the rarer examples being quite valuable.

However after many years the Pelham puppet name has just resurfaced and new Pelham puppets are being made once again. Whether these will ever become as successful as the original puppets is questionable.The puppets made by the original company will always be the “real” Pelham puppets for those of us who grew up with them. They were the brainchild of only one man who put his whole life and soul into their creation.I have a great regard for Bob Pelham and thank him for the little characters that made my childhood playtimes so happy.

The Pelham Time Frame

20/5/47 Wonky Toys Ltd was created.

22/6/47 MacBoozle was created.

14/10/48 Wonky toys Ltd became Pelham Puppets Ltd.

1948 Gill Leeper worked with Bob Pelham on the design of puppets.

Jan 48 Animal puppets were created.

1951 The creation of the Pelpup Club

1951 The first animated display unit was made and put on Southend Pier

10/1/52 A succesful tea party was held at Harrods for children in the Pelpup club.

24/4/52 The premiere of a  film  made promoting Pelham puppets. It was very successful advertising.

1952 Bob and Anne Pelham were married.

1953 Pelham puppets were given a licence to produce Disney characters.

1953 The miniature minipups were produced for the first time.

12/7/57 Gill Leeper was killed in a road accident and was a great loss to the company.

1955 Bimbo was created for the first time.

1955 The British industries Fair took place.Pelham puppets had a stand and royal visitors.

27/2/ 56 Bob Pelham appeared on TV on the BBC programme Panorama with some of his puppets.

1956 The yellow box with the Mad Hatter illustration on the side was introduced.

1956 Coloured strings and coloured buffers were first used in the manufacturing of the puppets.

1958 Enid Blyton's Bombadier was introduced since called "The Bom". I was given my "Bom "on 21/9/58 as a birthday gift.

1962 Pelham Puppets Ltd. were now exporting vast numbers of puppets abroad.

1962 The yellow box with the snakecharmer illustration on the side (which replaced the mad hatter) was introduced.

1963 The large yellow lidded box was introduced for the new 63 range of puppets which were too big for the original boxes.

1963 A new range of animal puppets designed by Peter Carter Page was manufactured. 31 in all.

1/6/64 Pelham puppets featured on the BBC children's programme Blue Peter.

1965 Japanese copies of Pelham puppets flooded the overseas toy market causing problems for the company.

21/4/67 Pelham puppets featured on an ITV drama programme The Avengers. They appeared in a few episodes.

1968.The first cellophane fronted boxes were introduced.They made it easier to see the puppet without removing it from the box.

1968 Ventriloquist puppets were introduced.

1970 The cellophane fronted box was strengthened with a yellow band of cardboard across the front.

1975 The first plastic legs were introduced.

1975 Three Womble characters  were introduced. Three more followed.

1979 Snoopy Charlie Brown and Woodstock from Peanuts were produced. They were wholly made of plastic apart from the strings.

19/6/80 Bob Pelham sadly died.

December 1980 The Pink Panther was produced.

October 1981 David Leech parted company with Pelham Puppets Ltd for personal reasons.

4/4/86The original company Pelham Puppets Ltd was sold.It changed hands and company name several times after this date but it was never really the same any more. New puppets and boxes were produced in an attempt to make it successful once again however it just gradually went downhill and eventually into liquidation.