The Legend of ‘Dicklemas’, the Cropton Camel

By Richard Peacock

Following numerous enquiries, all asking why is a Camel featured on the Cropton Montage, it was felt that a search should be made for the real story behind ‘The Legend of Dicklemas, the Cropton Camel’. 

This tale has been well known for a number of years by local people, but was always thought to be a ‘leg pull’ or something concocted after a few too many drinks at the local pub. However, after hours of painstaking research the detail began to unfold.

In 1891 a travelling Circus visited the local town of Pickering on the 15th – 19th December of that year. Tommy Wildmans Circus were well known for their extensive collection of what at the time were exotic animals. Alongside the usual circus acts, Jugglers, Trapeze, Clowns etc was a top of the bill that featured ‘The Human Cannonball’. Hence the first lead. A headline from a local newspaper stated “Cannon scares Camel”.

The newspaper article told that when the Cannon at Tommy Wildmans Circus was fired, the Human Cannon Ball shot out landing safely in to the net, but unnoticed in the excitement a Camel, panicked by the explosion, broke free and stampeded away. An extensive search was made but the Camel could not be found.

Now this begins to tie in with the story told by the villagers of Cropton that when Willie Thorp was making his way home from the local public house, he stopped to answer the call of nature. He looked over the hedge at High Lane, Cropton and saw a Camel makes it’s way slowly across a field and in to the local Cropton forest. On arriving home he told his wife, Annie, what he had witnessed. Her response being “Are tha sure there weren’t another two Camels and three wise men looking at a star”. Poor Willie was dismissed as a drunken fool!

However, in the days following, further sightings were made around the forest and Willie felt reassured that he had indeed seen the Camel. And perhaps he would be rewarded for the capture and return of the Camel to Tommy Wildmans Circus. Together, with Annies help they decided that they would tempt the Camel by offering a helping of Annies special Dicklemas Pudding.

Now Dicklemas Pudding is made using dates, and since dates come from the orient Willie reasoned it must be the pudding to succeed in capturing a Camel. Each serving of Dicklemas Pud was placed to tempt the Camel towards a comfortable stable. Willie thought that surely no Camel would want to leave once inside a warm stable.

To be continued……………..!

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