A FAMOUS clown from Southport has passed away, leaving a lasting legacy not only in his hometown, but around the world.
Arthur Pedlar, whose clown character was called Vercoe, was a former President of the World Clown Association and in 1998 he was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Centre.
He sadly died last week at the age of 89.
His daughter, Elinor, said: “My Dad passed away, very peacefully after a short illness.
“He had an amazing 89 years of wonderful adventures and I’m proud to say he was my dad. I spent 50 years with him, I couldn’t ask for anything else.
“He was not just my hero but everyone’s hero.”
Arthur was born in Southport. He first became interested in clowns when he visited the Bertram Mills Circus in 1938 where he saw the legendary American hobo clown, Emmett Kelly. At school he discovered that he could communicate silently with an audience and developed Vercoe the clown. He learned how to ride a unicycle as well as play various musical instruments, which later became skills that he used on stage as his clown character. During his career, Arthur performed his famous clown act around the world, an act which included riding 8ft-tall unicycles!
He was an ardent supporter of the Clown Hall of Fame and visited and performed there during his many visits to the United States.
Arthur was also well known locally as a successful businessman, owning Wayfarers Arts in Wayfarers Arcade, Lord Street. A spokesperson for Wayfarers Arcade said: “Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Arthur Pedlar, a world famous clown and successful business owner and friend of Wayfarers Shopping Arcade.”
Although performing around the world he never forgot his Southport roots and he performed many times in the resort, particularly at Southport Theatre and Floral Hall. He would also take time out of his busy schedule to taking part in plays and pantomimes at the SDC.
Arthur continued his clown role late into life and even into his eighties, putting on shows and events such as Clown Gathering UK. Continued on page 5
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He was the first living non-American clown to be voted into the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Centre, Milwaukee; he was President of the World Clown Association 2003/2004; and was Honorary President of the Circus School of Israel. A further accolade came his way in 2013 when he received the Legacy of Laughter Award.
Arthur was also an ordained Elder of the United Reformed Church and he was involved in ‘clown ministry’ - being a member of the ‘Holy Fools’, an inter-denominational group of clowns.
Such was Arthur’s standing in the world of clowning that in 2002, clowns from across the world converged on Southport to pay tribute to him at the International Gala Show as he turned 70.