© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
PERSONAL DATA DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH: 8th August 1920, Ashurst, Hampshire
OCCUPATION: Artist, Costume Designer, Sales & Export, Displays, Demonstrating whilst at Pelham Puppets
EDUCATION: Grove School, Horley, Surrey, (Independent), 1933-36 Lawn School, Horley, Surrey, 1936-37
UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE: Southampton University,
QUALIFICATIONS: Extra Mural Study Course: Local/social history, 1980-1983
CAREER BACKGROUND Rosemarie came to work for Bob Pelham after the war in 1946 when the opportunity arose after meeting Bob Pelham in the tea shop where she worked in Marlborough. She was an artist who, before the war, had intended to study dress design in Paris but the war put a stop to her plan. She had studied RSA exams at school in painting and drawing.
Rosemarie worked for what was then known as Wonky Toys before it became Pelham Puppets. Bob Pelham was challenged by Lines Brothers with the threat of a legal dispute if he carried on selling Wonky Toys as they owned the rights to distribute the toys throughout Europe and Great Britain. So it became known as Pelham Puppets and focused on making puppets for children, (as opposed to adult entertainers). It was one of the first of its kind to follow this approach.
Rosemarie painted the puppets' faces, designed costumes (which she did as extra work at home sometimes), suggested ideas for marketing and selling the puppets, packaged and sent them off, including to America. She generally helped out with many aspects of a small start up business and worked through the challenges which faced business after the war in terms of sourcing materials for the puppet costumes. Part of her role was to demonstrate the puppets in the shop window and one Christmas it created such a gathering of people outside on the pavement that the local policeman said it was creating an obstruction.
Her story brings to light how people's lives, especially single women, in this era were re-routed through personal circumstances beyond their control. Rosemarie's rented accommodation was no longer available to her mother after the war near Marlborough and as a single woman in her late 20s she could not get a mortgage at that time so she eventually had no choice but to relocate to another place (Southampton) and go where the accommodation and work was. Rosemarie Gibaud asked Bob Pelham if he could help find her a council house through his father who had some influence in town matters but this was met with a misunderstanding that she may have been single and pregnant and therefore Mr Pelham Senior told her he didn't want to be troubled by her housing problem. She regretted leaving Pelham Puppets but felt she had no choice. She worked for the Civil Service for 11 years amongst other jobs, including one as a window display dresser for department stores. Rosemarie worked for Pelham Puppets from 1946-1948.
Interview conducted by Juliana Vandegrift
Transcribed by Emily Hewitt
Edited by Rosemarie Gibaud and Laura Wood
Copyright © 2011 Museum of Childhood
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The full interview can be found here.