Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Man-Monkey of Bridge 39

The so-called Man-Monkey of Bridge 39 on Britain's Shropshire Union Canal is a beast that has fascinated me for 20 years. And finally, last year, I was able to put all my findings together on the creature in my book of the same name: Man-Monkey.

Described as looking somewhat like a large, aggressive chimpanzee, the beast has beast seen on numerous occasion since the late 1800s, in and around the woods that surround the infamous bridge.

But, it was in the pages of Shropshire Folklore - written in 1891 by Charlotte S. Burne and Georgina F. Jackson - that the story was first brought to people's attention. As Burne's wrote:

"A very weird story of an encounter with an animal ghost arose of late years within my knowledge. On the 21st of January 1879, a labouring man was employed to take a cart of luggage from Ranton in Staffordshire to Woodcock, beyond Newport in Shropshire, for the ease of a party of visitors who were going from one house to another. He was late in coming back; his horse was tired, and could only crawl along at a foot’s pace, so that it was ten o’clock at night when he arrived at the place where the highroad crosses the Birmingham and Liverpool canal.

"Just before he reached the canal bridge, a strange black creature with great white eyes sprang out of the plantation by the roadside and alighted on his horse’s back. He tried to push it off with his whip, but to his horror the whip went through the thing, and he dropped it on the ground in fright.
"The poor, tired horse broke into a canter, and rushed onwards at full speed with the ghost still clinging to its back. How the creature at length vanished, the man hardly knew. He told his tale in the village of Woodseaves, a mile further on, and so effectively frightened the hearers that one man actually stayed with friends there all night, rather than cross the terrible bridge which lay between him and his home."
And thus the Man-Monkey's reign of terror began...


Kithra said...

Is it just me, or has it struck you, that there's a real similarity between the village of Woodseaves and the old names for a Wild Man? As you wrote in a previous post: "Woodwose (otherwise Wodewose, Wodewese, Woodwyse and Wudawasa)." Seems like a case of The Name Game again.

Nick Redfern said...


I hadn't thought of that - very interesting! I'll look deeper into the name and origin of the area.

It's interesting that on the Cannock Chase is Shugborough Hall, where there have been a few weird "man-beast" cases.

And "Shug" ties in with the "Shug-Monkey," "Black Shuck" etc.

So, maybe Shuborough is the Borough of the Shug.

I think I'll do a study of places where these things have been seen, to see if there are other name associations.

fletcher said...

I lived in woodseaves for many years and i find it intresting in what Kithra has too say,i was told the story of the Monkey-Man as a boy.If you look into it and ask some of the people that still live there you will find that it (The Monkey-Man) was seen about 30 years ago.