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Monday, August 31, 2009

NEIL ARNOLD: The Furry Demon

I have known Neil for fifteen years now, since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippy who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years; we are just both a tad older....

In the annals of ‘big cat’ folklore in the UK, reports of attacks on humans are often dubious. However, consider the legend of Gypsy Wood, a dark stretch of woodland in Warrington. Here originated the tale of the Furry Demon, a ferocious cat-like entity still in existence up until the early 1980s.

Many at the time considered the legend to be a hazy campfire spook tale, but not the two lovers who stopped off in the shadows whilst travelling home from their date at Earlestown British Legion. Whilst having a kiss and a cuddle in the vehicle, they were both startled by a face at the window, of grotesque and hairy appearance. The creature had fangs and scurried off into the darkness. The frightened man assured his date that the creature had gone and went out to inspect the car where he found huge scratch marks on the paintwork.

This incident echoed a similar assault by the beast, this time from the 1940s, when a sergeant who’d taken his girlfriend to her home at Earlestown, decided to walk back via Gypsy Wood, in the vicinity of Winwick. The area had an eerie ambience to it for the place had been under the threat of an air raid and the sky had been illuminated by German parachute flairs, which were trying to trace the R.A.F. base at Burtonwood.

The sergeant was strolling along a tight lane when suddenly he was leapt on by a strange creature, which clung to his back. The beast clawed at his face savagely; his uniform had been torn and the teeth of the monster had sunk into his face. Bravely he tangled with the creature and managed to throw it to the ground. Luckily, a car came by and the driver stopped to aid the sergeant. However, as soon as the driver saw the bloody mess the ‘thing’ had made of the sergeant’s face, he cowardly drove off. The sergeant hobbled back to the barracks, always peering over his shoulder. But there was no further sign of the beast. With wounds tended to he told the tale of the demon cat; over four feet in length, with large fangs; how it had sprung onto his back in the still of night. But the medical officer believed that maybe the sergeant had had a violent row with his girlfriend.

Maybe the ‘Winwick demon’ still lurks around Warrington, waiting to sink its fangs into its next victim.

3 comments:

Steve Jones said...

Wasn't Winwick traditionally associated with demonic pigs?
(too lazy to ferret in my bookshelves)

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

Looking at the area on Google earth, a couple of things immediately strike me. Firstly, Gypsy Wood isn't some great tract of dark, brooding wildwood but is little more than a windbreak or shelter belt of trees. Secondly, when I look closely, I can see the ghosts of ridge and furrow medieval ploughing in the fields around the lane, which tells me the area has likely been under cultivation for quite a long time. An old maps website confirms this; the landscape hasn't changed markedly since the first Ordnance Survey mapping of 1849; Gypsy Wood has not been more than a thin belt of trees for at least a few hundred years.

So, we have a cryptid appearing out of a thin shelter-belt that is not and has never been what you might call thick cover, sandwiched between a road on one side and a canal a field away to the north; the sort of covert a farmer might walk up on an afternoon with a shotgun looking for game and certainly the sort of thing you could thoroughly search on an afternoon had you the mind to.

Are you sure this thing is a real animal and not just a zooform, Neil? This thing just doesn't sound like an animal, certainly not a big cat, it just isn't shy enough.

Neil A said...

Dan, I've known of several large cat reports from areas of thin foliage. This doesn't mean a cat resides there, but simply that as cat has been seen there. Legends can be born from the faintest of rumour or incident.

I called the post the 'furry demon' as it may well be a zooform critter, however, you seem to forget that in the UK numerous 'big cat' reports occur in towns, in wide open spaces etc, as such animals, despite being shy and elusive, still remain curious, and their territories often sliced and diced by busy roads etc.

You say, "...not just a zooform", as if zooforms are everyday things!

Such tales need to be taken with a pinch of salt sbut I appreciate the time you spent on Google Earth!