Family’s tribute to Buxton man who created travelling menagerie - including a wino-rhino

Roz Pidcock and her dad Fred at his 70th birthday bash where they celebrated the life of a  menagerie man and ancestor Gilbert Pidcock
Roz Pidcock and her dad Fred at his 70th birthday bash where they celebrated the life of a menagerie man and ancestor Gilbert Pidcock

Family members of a Buxton man who created one of the UK’s first travelling menageries - including a rhino that liked wine - gathered in the town to pay tribute to him.

Gilbert Pidcock was born in Buxton in 1743 and more than 270 years later his family got up close with some unusual creatures to honour his memory.

A sketch of Gilbert Pidcock done in the 18th century

A sketch of Gilbert Pidcock done in the 18th century

Roz Pidcock organised the reunion for her dad, Fred’s, 70th birthday.

She said: “We all know the tales of Gilbert and we wanted to make a fuss of my dad so this made sense.”

Gilbert had an elephant, a rhino, a zebra along with a lion, a tiger and a black swan which he exhibited.

Roz said: “Nowadays we instinctively know what a lion looks like but back in those days when these animals were only just starting to come over with the spice trade people had no idea what to expect and what Gilbert did really was ground breaking in the 1790s.”

Even though Gilbert went to London his family still had connections in the area. His sister ran the King’s Head pub on Buxton’s Market Place and other family members were buried at Darley Dale.

Roz said: “The menagerie must have been quite a feature of Georgian London. It is even mentioned in the writings of Lord Byron and Jane Austen.”

Old diary exerts from Gilbert show a rhino he kept like to drink red wine with his trainer and how the exhibition in London was on the first floor and the elephant objected to the walk so squirted her keepers with water when she got to the top.

The family, who now reside all over the country, returned to the Old Hall Hotel and hired an animal company for the day and met exotic creatures such as a blue skink lizard, a meerkat as well as a boa constrictor in honour of the modern day Noah they called family.