Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, August 10, 2009


Possibly the nicest thing about the CFZ bloggo is that it is a living, breathing community and new people arrive on a regular basis.

We first met dizzy Ms L. at Uncon, where she bought some books from us, briefly spoke to Richard and had a charmingly old-fashioned habit of referring to me as `Mr Downes,' when everyone else calls me `Jon` or `Hey You` (or sometimes something more scatological), until I told her not to.

She is also the unpaid bloggo sub-editor and author of a charming and very elegantly written fortean novella called The Second Level, which I strongly urge you all to buy at this link:


Sick eels seem to be rather on the agenda at the moment. Not only are the CFZ’s slippery set all out of flunther but I have (believe it or not) been idly researching the demise of eels in my locality for the past four months.

My Grandad used to talk about a “snigoyle.” Only in recent months have we established that he meant Snig Hole, an area of Helmshore, the Lancashire mill town where he was born and spent his childhood. ‘Snig’ is a colloquial word for an eel, and in old, old Lanky, ‘o’ was pronounced ‘oy’ (and I thought I sounded broad!).

Helmshore Pocket Park (also known as Snig Hole Park) now sits where the old Snig Hole mill lodge once was, beside the river Ogden. Both once swelled with fat little eels, which local boys liked to catch, stick in a jar and take home to show their mam.

Sadly this practice did not survive into the twentieth century. The industrial revolution brought with it prosperity and work but also severe pollution to local waters. Those dark satanic mills spewed out their waste and the greedy snig was doomed when he gorged on lanolin from the wool. A similar thing happened in the river Irk, where it joins the Irwell near Manchester cathedral.

More hopefully, eels were recently sighted in nearby Bury, while trout now inhabit the Ogden, much to the delight of a Helmshore heron.

I am indebted to my friend Chris Aspin; writer, historian and Helmshore resident; who gave me a lot of information.


Anonymous said...

Well now, I've been commuting up and down the M66 for years, and I never knew that was there; I pass this place twice a day all the working week. From what I can see on Google Earth, there isn't just a river there but also a rather interesting set of mill ponds (undoubtedly where the eels were and probably still are to be found), with an aqueduct linking two sets of ponds over the river.

These days the river systems there should be fairly clean and should support a fairly decent ecosystem; I have even seen fish in the river Medlock in the middle of Manchester, which is as fetid an urban river as you might ever want to stand upwind of, so eels will certainly be found in all the formerly industrial waters of Lancashire.

In addition to this, fish are also fairly smart animals; much more so than is commonly thought. Fish are savvy enough to spend most of their time in the clean waters upstream of a sewage outfall, say, and occasionally move to the vile horror of the outfall stream to feast on detrivores like bloodworms that are usually to be found therein, before beating a hasty retreat to cleaner, more oxygenated waters elsewhere.

C-E B said...

That sounds VERY promising! Thanks for the info, Dr Holdsworth :)