Once upon a time big cats roamed the hills of Buxton and wandered along the riverbanks that would one day become Spring Gardens. From Scimitar-toothed cats to Cave Lions and Lynx, this land has seen some magnificent predators and, in a new project partnership with the Heritage Action Zone, Buxton Our Street, Buxton Museum and Creeping Toad, they celebrate these lost cats of Buxton!
Tying in with the national Wild Escape initiative, the project wants to encourage people to look from museum collections to the wider landscapes and to think about how places like Spring Gardens and the town as a whole have changed over time and continue to change now as communities – and climates – change.
Of course not your average moggy roamed the Peak District landscape all those years ago. Scimitar-toothed cats were here when humans wandered into the Peaks about 30,000 years ago, while cave lions lingered here until about 12,000 years ago and lynx knew our hills in more recent days. The project brings these lost cats back to the town, reflecting on their lives, how climates have changed and wondering what they might make of our modern world.
There’s already been several family events making pictures and puppets; last week families joined artists from the Babbling Vagabonds at Buxton Museum to make a life-size cave lion puppet and everyone came along to make their own cat creation, including terrifying prehistoric mice to take home!
On Sunday 23rd April, the project will culminate in the Carnival of the Cats parade along Spring Gardens and into Pavilion Gardens. Everyone is asked to meet at 2pm by Iceland in Spring Gardens. A parade of big cats, small cats, cat-masked children, and even ancient ghost cat puppets will prowl past the shops and purr at the shoppers. Then, in Pavilion Gardens, stop to watch the prehistoric mice dance, let the cats cavort and enjoy your Kitty-cat Picnic and general feline-frivolity.