John Blundall was one of Britain’s foremost puppet masters and designers, who created memorable work in both theatre and television.

Born in Birmingham, Blundall had made his first puppets by the age of 14, before going on to train in puppet-making and theatre in Russia and Japan.

In 1966, Blundall joined the staff of Birmingham’s Midland Arts Centre, where he founded the Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre in 1968. This puppet theatre gained an international reputation for its revival of traditional forms of puppetry, combined with contemporary design and performance.

Blundall’s collection includes a range of different forms and characters. Among them are 24 English marionettes (string puppets) used by an amateur theatre company from Moseley, Birmingham during the 1940s.

They include stereotypical representions of both male and female non-Western people. Among the puppets designed by Blundall himself is the character of Aloysius Parker from the 1960s TV series Thunderbirds. Blundall was one of four puppet designers who worked with Jerry Anderson to create the characters for the series. This version of Parker was made by Blundall around 2002, and is a modified version of the original puppet.

Other figures in the collection made by the designer include four string puppets from Aladdin and three characters from The Saga of Erik the Viking. Blundall’s collection now joins Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, where it stands as an important example of the work and interests of this internationally renowned local figure as well as a valuable record of the history of Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre.


John Blundall.

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