JOCK Armitage used to be Swanage’s Punch and Judy man in the 50s and 60s and performed for over 40 years in total.

The entertainer used to perform three, 25-minute shows a day and reportedly said it was hard work but loved hearing the children shout back at Mr Punch.

When he retired, he was concerned that the traditional seaside show would die out.

Following in his footsteps and determined to keep the tradition going is Warwickshire man Mel Harvey, who has recently acquired Jock’s original punch puppet.

Mel visited Swanage this week as he was interested in finding out more about Jock and where he came from.

He said: “I try to gather as much information as I can as I go and give talks to the WI, the U3A and other organisations about the traditions of Punch and Judy.”

A story he was told about Jock this week involved him setting fire to his puppet booth whilst performing a show, as he was trying kick away a terrier dog around his feet.

Instead Jock had kicked a battery pack and sent sparks flying, which then set the booth alight.

Mel added: “Stories like this fascinate people as they are interested in the history and mystery of Punch and Judy shows.”

As well as being a Punch and Judy Professor, Mel also runs a school in Stratford-upon-Avon and teaches the trade to those also interested in the puppet show.

“Punch and Judy is also a small business.

“People come to me who have been made redundant and take my course because they want to earn. You will always get your money back after doing a Punch and Judy show.

“It is still as popular as ever and I was out every weekend during summer performing at fairs and fetes.”

Mel is part of the Punch and Judy Fellowship which is running a Jamboree event in Birmingham this October.

“They have already asked me to bring Jock’s Punch puppet as they are so interested that it was with him in Swanage for all those years.

“It’s an English seaside tradition that we just want to keep alive.”