Coalport Chinaworks with the Jackfield Beast


There’s a version without The Beast, one with The Coalport Chinaworks and offices. And there’s Coalport with The Tar Tunnel. Even further there are lots of The Ironbridge.

Click a section to zoom in. These are hyper-detailed pictures! Printed at 5760 x 1440 dpi – double the usual resolution – the deeper you look the more you see.

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The Jackfield Beast

It probably moved down from The Wrekin, where it was eating small children and sheep. I don’t know if it is still eating small children and sheep. Probably scrounging in the bins, innit.

From the Jackfield Village News No. 26 May 2010

Bill: (Spring 2009, about 7am the field between the road loading up to Tuckies and Preen’s Head) I was out walking the dog early one misty cold morning. As I crossed the bridge up from the Boat I glanced up the field towards the smallholding on the hill. I was surprised to see what looked like a large cat slinking away from me up the hedgerow in and out of the foggy bushes I’ve seen cats at a distance before and I know they do appear larger than in real life, but it wasn’t the size that drew my attention it was the length and the way it moved.
I watched as it reached the top of the field and turned towards Preen’s Head. Viewed from the side it was in fact much bigger than I’d thought with a long body and long curved tail. It looked black but most things would in that sort of light. It disappeared into the trees.

Peter Hogan: (A couple of years ago, early morning, Maws Field) I mentioned my sighting in the Black Swan and Pete volunteered this information. He was preparing to go to work one morning, standing at the window of his flat at the top of Jackfield Mill and looking out over the field work one morning, standing between Maws Craft Centre arid the river when he saw something in the bushes at the top of the field next to the car park. It appeared to be a large cat-like animal lying in the trees, moving occasionally. Sipping his coffee, he watched it for a while and eventually went to fetch his binoculars (Pete’s a keen birdwatcher). Unfortunately when he returned the creature had gone.

Then other sightings were reported.

Paul Finch: (Early this year, Hornsey Gates Industrial Estate.) Tracks were spotted in the snow around the industrial area with what appeared to be a smaller set of prints alongside. When this was ‘Googled’ the prints wore identified as a puma.
Next a paw print was found and photographed in the slush just outside the Black Swan door. Almost certainly cat shaped and 5 inches in diameter.

Alistair Craib: (About 9 months ago, 10.30 pm, opposite the ramp down to Maws entrance ) Alistair saw in his car headlights a large cat with a long tail disappearing into the bushes along the old railway lin.

Rick Cattell: (Jan/Feb 2007. 2 am, on the hill up from the Woodbridge to Broseley Rick was returning from work when, on the sharp left-hand bend halfway up the hill a large cat stepped in front of the car and stopped. Large, about the size of a labrador, greyish with tufted ears, it didn’t seem too scared at all. In the headlights, the markings appeared silvery blue, but in daylight might have been grey/black. After about 30 seconds it disappeared into the bushes. Rick described it as ”lynx-like”.

Darren and Sonia Bird: (Wednesday 9/10 Jan 2010 outside their cottage by the Boat, 12.45 am.) Returning from the cinema in Birmingham via a meal with friends at Shifnal they were dropped off at the Shakespeare and walked home over the footbridge. As they turned the corner near their cottage a large dark shape ran past them. At first, they thought it was a large fox, although it was more the size of a german shepherd and it moved differently, “more like a cat” Next day they found massive round paw prints going up their drive around their car and up past the house.

Tommy Yates: (January 2010, the Boat Inn across the road from Darren and Sonia’s, the middle of the night.) Tommy was sleeping at the pub while the landlady was away, and was woken late at night by the goats kept at the pub making a loud noise. He went out to find them racing around, bleating and trembling with fear. There was no sign of anything around. He stayed and comforted them before putting them indoors for the rest of the night.

Katherine Caddick: (Friday 22nd February, 9.30 pm just before the road leading down to the Half Moon from Salthouse Road.) Something as large as a Labrador dog, tawny with a long tail rushed past her in the dark.

Picture Description

This picture is also available without the Beast.
Coalport town lies predominantly on the north bank of the River Severn; on the south side is Jackfield. Coalport was planned as a canal /river interchange and a complete ‘new town’ by ironmaster William Reynolds, who between 1788 and 1796 built warehouses, workshops, factories and workers accommodation in Coalport. He also directed the construction of the Shropshire Canal, linking the East Shropshire coalfield with the River Severn – the terminus being Coalport Wharf between the Brewery Inn and Coalport Bridge. Coalport at this time was much larger than it is today.

The two remaining bottle kilns and the ruin of one in the centre of this picture were the business end of the Coalport China Works, founded in 1795 by John Rose. It produced Caughley and Coalport porcelain which became popular worldwide, Production later moved across the canal to the buildings which are now the Coalport China Museum to the left in this picture. Production moved to Staffordshire in 1926, and Coalport China is now part of the world famous Wedgwood group of pottery companies.

In front is the historic Coalport Canal which runs from the river past the Coalport China Works, the ‘Tar Tunnel’ leading to the bitumen and coal mines, and up the Hay Inclined Plane, where it continues towards Blists Hill town where it terminates. Currently, much of the stretch between Blists Hill and the Hay Inclined Plane is overgrown and impassable.

The Hay Inclined Plane enabled canal barges and narrowboats to be transferred from the bottom of the Severn Gorge to the top, up a 1 in 4 gradient on wheeled cradles, operated by a team of just four men. It was the equivalent of 27 canal locks and could transport six barges per hour in this fashion, an operation that would have taken over three hours using a traditional lock system. The canal was eventually superseded by rail transport and fell into neglect, silting up and becoming overgrown and was infilled in the 1920’s. It wasn’t until the late 1970’s that it was partially restored, with further restoration in the 1990’s.

What is a saggar maker’s bottom knocker?

A saggar is a fireclay container, usually oval or round, used to protect pottery from marking by flames and smoke during firing in a bottle oven. The saggar maker is a skilled man, producing the finished saggar, using his thumb to make a neat join between the side and the base. The bottom knocker (a young boy) made the base of the saggar from a lump of fireclay which he knocked into a metal ring using a wooden mallet or maul (pronounced mow).

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