Pier to honour popular entertainer

  • 4 April, 2022
  • In the community


A special exhibition is being
lined-up this summer to mark the centenary of one of Clacton’s most popular
entertainers setting foot on the town’s historic pier.

Clown Bertram – real name Albert
Edward Harvey – and his ventriloquist’s dummy Filbert turned up at Clacton
looking for work in 1922.


Unfortunately, all the town’s
Summer Seasons were already cast, but he was able to persuade Clacton Pier’s
owner, Ernest Kingsman, that he lacked a children’s entertainer.


Clown Bertram was given a week’s
trial to prove his worth and ended up thrilling millions of families for 18
consecutive seasons through until the outbreak of World War Two in 1939.

The pair were total sell-outs – first
playing to children sat on a carpet with parents on deck chairs; then in The
Children’s Theatre which was specially built for them with a capacity of 500
and finally in the Jollity (now the Jolly Roger) which housed an audience of

Clown Bertram fulfilled two 90 minute
performances each day with a variety of comedy, music, conjuring, children’s
competitions and of course, much-loved appearances from Filbert.

Youngsters were incorporated in the
act, and it was here that a six-year-old Warren Mitchell made his debut on
stage in the Jollity.

Clown Bertram never returned to the
pier after the war and died in 1953. His last performance was in Weeley Village

But crowd-pleaser Filbert lives on
and was bought by the Clacton and District Local History Society a few years
ago and takes pride of place in their museum in the town’s library.

Now the society and Clacton Pier have
joined forces to stage the exhibition which will run for the six week school summer

Pier director Billy Ball said it is
an honour to provide a venue for the display.

“It is only right and proper that
Filbert comes home for a few weeks and an exhibition to celebrate Clown Betram,
who was an extraordinary entertainer, is staged where it all began 100 years
ago,” he said.

“I honestly think he would still pull
in the crowds today and we look forward to seeing visitors turn out to learn
more about this incredible act – the pier’s number one entertainment attraction
for almost two decades.”

Filbert did return to the pier for
the first time in 77 years last summer to be one of the first to try out the
new Big Wheel, along with members of the Clacton and District Local History Society.

Society chairman Norman Jacobs said
that it was on that visit that the idea of an exhibition was discussed.

“We hoped the pier’s owners would
agree and they jumped at the chance for which we are truly grateful,” he said. “It
is the original haunt of Clown Bertram and Filbert who are a key part of the
pier’s history.”


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