The above are a group of very large display boards
graced the walls of the Abbots Bromley Puppet Museum.
The marionettes are by Harry Tozer of Barcelona, who
also took the photographs.
Harry Tozer 1989
Harry Tozer was
born at Villa Rica, Paraguay on 9th November 1902.
His parents were British and at ten years of age, Harry
returned to England to be educated. It was at this
time that he saw his first Punch & Judy Show and at the
age of 15, he made his first set of Punch & Judy
In 1927, a period
of ill health resulted in him spending a whole year
under treatment in England. While recovering, he
was inspired by Walter Wilkinson's book "The Peep Show"
to carve another much-improved set of Punch figures.
He constructed his
first marionettes in 1934 and had completed 9 figures
before the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936. He
made another 5 figures during the first few months of
the Civil War and his first marionette shows were to
entertain war refugees.
The outbreak of
World War II, immediately after the Civil War, made it
difficult to develop his marionette theatre, but a
permanent stage was built in Barcelona and further
puppets gradually added until, by the beginning of 1944,
his marionette shows had begun to attract attention as
there was nothing else like them in the whole of Spain.
In February 1946,
the marionette group had swelled to 8 puppeteers and
after months of rehearsal, a series of 6 performances
were given for the general public. These shows
received excellent reviews in the press and encouraged
the building of new puppets and new shows for many years
In 1950 and 1951,
Harry Tozer began to travel abroad and during his annual
vacation, worked for a month in England with the
Lanchester Marionettes. He also visited marionette
theatres in Zurich and Salzburg to broaden his
Tozer was forced
to re-locate premises several times over the years,
until the creation of a Puppetry Department in the
Provincial Theatre Institute awoke such interest in the
only marionette theatre existing in Spain, that its
Director offered to transfer all Tozer's materials to
the Theatre Museum. Upon opening the 17 crates,
the staff were so amazed by the quantity, it was decided
an exhibition was merited. The success of the
exhibition prompted the Director of the Theatre
Institute to offer a final home for the Marionette
Harry Tozer died
at his home in Barcelona on 9th June, 1999.
Writing in The Puppet Master, Stan Parker
commented: "In a word, Harry was great.
A lovely man and very much respected. Harry saw
the best in everyone, I doubt if he had an enemy in the
world. When I was last with him, he was 94 and
bright as a button, full of chat as ever, keen to show
me plans and photographs of his marionettes."
H V Tozer was made
a member of honour of UNIMA in 1985 and became a Vice
President of the British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild in