Grave of Will Catlin, Llandrillo

Grave of Will Catlin

Portrait of Will Catlin

Photo of Catlin's Pierrots

Grave inscription for 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.

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 took over a pierrot stage in Colwyn Bay in the early years of the 20th century. By the First World War he had had a new pierrot theatre, named the Arcadia, built on Colwyn Bay promenade. Click here for our web page about the theatre.

He bought the existing Hippodrome theatre on Llandudno seafront and renamed it the Arcadia. It became the home of “Catlin’s Follies with an all-star cast”.

He 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.”

His portrait is shown here courtesy of Conwy Archives Service.

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

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