Grave of Will Catlin, Llandrillo

Grave of Will Catlin

Will Catlin (d. 1953)

Catlin’s Follies, a troupe of Pierrot clowns, entertained countless holidaymakers in Llandudno. Will Catlin had started his career in 1894 at Scarborough, where “Catlin’s Favourite Pierrots” performed on a makeshift stage on the sands. Later they became nationally known as “Catlin’s Royal Pierrots”. His performers were all male. To add allure for the female audiences, he presented them as available bachelors. They were even forbidden to be seen arm-in-arm with a lady.

Grave inscription for Will Catlin

He was unusual in that he provided year-round employment for his cast, by touring inland towns and cities during the winter months. Eventually he ran a string of Pierrot troupes, under different mangers, around the country.

He came to Llandudno in 1915 and bought the existing Hippodrome theatre on the sea front. He renamed it the Arcadia and it became the home for Will Catlin’s Pierrots (pictured below), later “Catlin’s Follies with an all-star cast”. He also established a Catlin’s Arcadia in Colwyn Bay.

Photo of Catlin's PierrotsHe continued working in showbusiness for the rest of his life. When he died in 1953, aged 82, his coffin was topped by a pierrot hat made from white flowers and the inscription: “King of the Pierrots’ final curtain.”

The show survived him, run by his family, until the local council bought the Arcadia in 1968.

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