CROCODILE HUNTING IN THE MIDLANDS – Mark Martin’s initial investigations – Introduction

Saturday 16th January 2021

Mark Martin is a relatively new member of the CFZ. When we last met face-to-face, at the Fortean Times Unconvention in April this year, he volunteered his services to help out with field work as and when the opportunity arrived. Since then, we have been keeping in touch through the miracle of MSN Messenger, and the occasional e-mails.

As many of you know, I have been very unwell recently. I have been in bed for most of the last month and only surface when is absolutely necessary. Two days ago I received the following e-mail message from Nick Redfern. He may be living in Texas now – living proof that one can take the boy out of the West Midlands, but the fact that he still keeps a finger on the pulse of the event’s of his hometown, prove that one may not be able to take the West Midlands out of the boy!

It was a story from the Wolverhampton Express and Star dated Jun 16, 2003, 14:13:00

Mystery as ‘croc’ spotted at pool

By Faye Casey

Jun 16, 2003, 14:13:00

A Staffordshire community was today trying to unravel a pool monster mystery after reported sightings of a 7ft “crocodile” type creature rising from the deep.

Police officers, RSPCA inspectors and an alligator expert from Walsall were called to the pool in Roman View, Churchbridge, Cannock, on Saturday afternoon when reports of the sighting were first made.

They searched the area and found nothing, coming to the conclusion that the creature must have been a fish or possibly a snapper turtle.

But locals are not convinced and youngsters have designed their own “croc on the loose” posters to stick on lamposts.

One man, who did not wish to named, said he called the emergency services because what he saw in the pool was not a large fish. He and members of his family had being feeding the swans when the creature emerged.

“We were there looking at the two swans and their baby cygnets,” said the man. “And there was a commotion in the water and lots of turbulence.

“It was far too big to be caused by a fish. As the creature went past I saw it had a flat head, a 5ft long body, and 2ft tail. It was not smooth and was moving in a snaking action – my initial reaction was it was a crocodile or alligator and so I called the police.”

Linda Charteras, from nearby Cheslyn Hay, was also feeding the swans on Saturday afternoon.

“I saw the creature first – a large pool of dirt came up. It looked as though it was after one of the cygnets. I saw its head and long nose and thought there was no way it was a fish,” she said.

Natalie Baker, who lives on nearby Nuthurst Drive, said her children and their friends had been designing the posters.

“There has got to be something in it for the police and RSPCA to come out.”

But despite growing local interest in the creature – a group were out with their binoculars scanning the water last night – the RSPCA say it is highly unlikely the beast was an alligator or croc.

Nick Brundrit, field chief inspector for the RSPCA, said the team kept up observations at the pool for around an hour and a half on Saturday, but there were no obvious signs of an alligator-type creature.

He said the sighting was more likely to be a group of basking carp swimming together, or possibly a snapper turtle.

In one of those pieces of synchronicity would plague – or bless (depending on your point of view) – Fortean researchers around the world, this news item from Nick arrived during one of my few forays from my sick bed, downstairs to my computer. “Dammit”, I said to Richard, “If only I wasn’t ill, and you weren’t off to Sumatra on Saturday, that is exactly the sort of thing that we should be investigating”.

We wracked our brains, trying to think of somebody in the immediate vicinity of Cannock that we could ask to go and investigate for us, but for a variety of reasons, nobody was available. Then came another of those wonderful fortean coincidences. (As I type this I am reminded of the voice of my old mentor Tony “Doc” Shiels, growling at me that “There’s no suck thing as a coincidence you Saxon gobshite!”). There was a beeping noise from my computer, and Mark Martin hailed me over MSN Messenger. As he lived in Sheffield – bloody miles away from Cannock – I didn’t even think to ask him to go, but as soon as I mentioned the case he volunteered.

The next day he went, at some ungodly hour, and telephoned me at intervals throughout the day to tell me how his investigation was progressing. On his return he e-mailed me sound files of interviews with the eyewitnesses and also photographs of the people involved, and the location. He will be writing up his account of the day’s events within the next week or so, but he has given us permission to post the photographs and sound files here on the website.

All things being equal a full CFZ investigation team, including Mark, will be visiting the area at the end of July, when we shall also cary out some other fieldwork apertaining to one recent BHM reports on Cannock Chase . If anyone is interested in accompanying us on the excercise which should last the best part of a week one , please email me .

Thank you again Mark for your incredible hard work. It is the input of people like you that has made the CFZ the biggest, best, and fgastest growing Cryptozoological research organisation in the world.

Slainté Mhôr

Jon Downes


Member of the CFZ team since March 2009, Liz Bitakaramire lives oop north and is currently working on The Mystery Animals of Greater Manchester with Richard Muirhead.