A SPECIAL exhibition is being lined-up to mark the centenary of one of Clacton’s most popular entertainers.

Clown Bertram – real name Albert Edward Harvey – and his ventriloquist’s dummy Filbert turned up at Clacton looking for work in 1922.

Despite all the town's summer seasons already being cast, he was able to persuade Clacton Pier's owner Ernest Kingsman that he lacked a children’s entertainer.

Clown Bertram was given a week’s trial to prove his worth and ended up thrilling millions of families for 18 consecutive seasons through until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

The pair were total sell-outs – first playing to children sat on a carpet, then in the specially built Children’s Theatre and later the Jollity, now the Jolly Roger, which housed an audience of 1,000.

Clown Bertram never returned to the pier after the war and died in 1953.

But crowd-pleaser Filbert lives on and was bought by the Clacton Local History Society, taking pride of place in their museum in the town’s library.

Now the society and Clacton Pier have joined forces to stage the exhibition during the six week school summer holidays.

Pier director Billy Ball said: “It is only right and proper that Filbert comes home for a few weeks and an exhibition to celebrate Clown Bertram, who was an extraordinary entertainer, is staged where it all began 100 years ago.

“I honestly think he would still pull in the crowds today and we look forward to seeing visitors turn out to learn more about this incredible act – the pier’s number one entertainment attraction for almost two decades.”

Filbert returned to the pier for the first time in 77 years last summer to be one of the first to try out the new big wheel.

History society chairman Norman Jacobs said that it was on that visit the idea of an exhibition was discussed.

“We hoped the pier’s owners would agree and they jumped at the chance for which we are truly grateful,” he said.

“It is the original haunt of Clown Bertram and Filbert who are a key part of the pier’s history.”