The Loch Ness monster, the Sasquatch or Mothman, Cryptids are usually associated with spectacular yet elusive beasts populating the few remaining wilderness areas of our planet.
With so many spectacular stories circulating around the world it’s perhaps inevitable that the lesser beasts have been relegated, sidelined or just forgotten about completely.
One such animal is the Tizzie-Wizzie. The story of the Tizzie-Wizzie begins in the village of Bowness on Windermere, England’s largest lake.
A boatman allegedly first encountered the Tizzie-Wizzie on the lake sometime around 1900. He was a well known regular at The Stags Head Hotel and inn, a place that was already popular with Tourists. The tourist boom to the Lake District at the turn of the last century brought new income to this rural area and the boatman saw little reason why he shouldn’t also cash in.
The canny boatman, after telling his tales, would take groups of tourists out on Tizzie-wizzie hunts and we can only imagine that the combination of hunts and merchandise sales provided a lucrative little sideline for the boatman during the summer tourist season.
Tizzie-wizzie, so the story goes, was a curious creature that was part hedgehog with a squirrel’s tale and bumblebee wings. It’s feint cries could be heard at the water’s edge. Wealthy city folk ate up every word, perhaps enthralled that a mysterious creature could exist in this wilderness and in this modern age of electricity, motor cars and telephones.
The boatman then captured a live creature, luring bizarrely it with ginger biscuits, in 1906. He took it to Louis Herbert’s Photographic studio in town where the famous photo was taken.
Unfortunately, shortly after the photo was taken the creature escaped, flying though an open window. Hundreds of postcards of the photo were sold .
Okay, so we don’t really believe it. The story of the Tizzie-Wizzie has all the hallmarks of a well intentioned hoax. Locals teasing out of town folk and harmlessly making a little bit of money at the same time. The interesting component in the story is the use of photographic evidence to prove the creature’s existence. It must of seemed believable, after all, the duckbilled platypus was culled a fake only a here’s years earlier an that was a real animal,he not the tizzie-wizzies?
We also have to remember that at the time The Lake District was a wilderness to the affluent burgeoning urban middle class holiday makers, they would have soaked up exciting tales and folklore.
What happened to the boatman and his story has become a bit of a mystery. Obviously soon after this period Europe was gripped by war, the Lake District tourist trade dried up the tale of the tizzie-wizzie seemed to go with it. After the First World War the Loch Ness monster became the star of British cryptozoology, a small hedgehog like creature must of paled into insignificance.
This is a bit of a shame as the area of the cute cryptid is underrepresented within the field. Perhaps we need to listen carefully as we walk along the shores of Lake Windermere.