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Cactus the Camel

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, designed)

  • Date:

    first half 20th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Whanslaw, H.W., born 1883 - died 1965 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood, paint, fur fabric, felt, braid and string

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Cactus the camel appeared in the early BBC children's television programme Telescope, hosted by Valerie Hobson and Cliff Michelmore. He appeared with his best friend the sailor marionette Timothy Telescope in his wooden boat HMS Telescope, and the character Bookworm. The programme consisted mainly of hobby demonstrations and stories, as well as the adventures of the cowboy Hank who eventually moved to the shows which followed called Whirligig. Harry Whanslaw made Cactus in the 1920s or 1930s, and a photograph in the British Puppet and Model Theatre Archive of the 13th exhibition of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild in 1938 shows Cactus being operated. The book of stories by Jill Allgood entitled Timothy Telescope Cactus the Camel & Valerie Hobson in Ship Ahoy illustrated by Harry Whanslaw was published by Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., Ltd. in 1951, and in 1956 the film The Adventures of Timothy Telescope was directed by Jill Allgood, with Harry Whanslaw and Harry Bigg operating Timothy and Cactus the Camel on board the HMS Telescope, with a family of crows who keep watch from their crows' nest.

Physical description

Marionette of Cactus the camel, covered in beige fur fabric over a carved wood face, legs and shoulders, with an orange felt saddle cover embroidered with the name 'Cactus' in yellow thread and decorated with yellow blue and green braid. His red felt head-collar is decorated with triangles of yellow felt

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, designed)


first half 20th century (made)


Whanslaw, H.W., born 1883 - died 1965 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved wood, paint, fur fabric, felt, braid and string


Height: 39 cm back to hoof, Length: 35 cm nose to tail

Descriptive line

Marionette of Cactus the camel, made by H.W. Whanslaw. English, ca.1930


Wood; Paint; Fur fabric; Felt; Braid; Cotton thread; String (fiber product)


Carving; Painting; Sewing


Entertainment & Leisure


Theatre and Performance Collection

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