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The Punch & Judy Fellowship (known as the PJF) was founded on 8th September 1980, by the late Percy Press II, along with several other well known Punch & Judy performers in order to preserve, promote and protect the traditions of Britain's much loved national puppet show.
Percy was asked by Courage to invite other prominent Punch & Judy Professors to attend the opening in 1980 - John Alexander, Max Alexander, Joe Beeby, Glyn Edwards, John Styles and Charles Macdonald (known as Mac who had made booths for Percy). Jay Marshall from America was unable to attend, but sent a letter of support.
Percy used the opportunity of this gathering to discuss with the others an idea he had been considering for some time - the formation of a Punch & Judy organisation.
The aims and workings of such an organisation were discussed and it was agreed to meet a few weeks later to form the first Committee of the Punch & Judy Fellowship.
At that first meeting there were no elections as such, more a matter of who would like to carry out each position within the PJF. It was John Alexander who became the very first Chairman, because he already owned a gavel! Percy became President and as Charles Macdonald was not a Punch Professor, he became the Honorary Beadle.
One key part of the redevelopment was a Public House which was established by the Courage brewery. John Alexander, one of the PJF’s founding Members, is convinced it was Percy's show that gave the brewery the idea of calling the pub “The Punch & Judy” as he believes they were probably unaware of Covent Garden’s connection with Samuel Pepys’ historic first sighting of Punch in 1662.
In the late 1970’s Covent Garden Wholesale and Flower Market moved to a new site in London, better suited to its needs. For a time the question of demolishing the old market buildings was considered, thankfully it was decided to preserve them and Covent Garden undertook huge redevelopment, eventually opened as a major retail development in 1980.
While all the development was taking place market traders in the remaining Jubilee Market invited Percy Press II to entertain visitors with his show on the adjacent cobbles. Percy was a very well known personality who became something of a permanent feature in Covent Garden.
Although no one performed Punch & Judy shows on the day, everyone brought along their puppet of Mr Punch to add to the celebrations and with Courage providing their finest cocktail mixer to hand out a specially named Punch & Judy cocktail, the grand opening proved to be quite a boozy occasion!