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...