VikingR asked the "Flash" Danny Ashcroft to get an insight into the story behind JT`s set-up
Melton Mowbray/rural Leicestershire and strongman are not usually not words that most people would usually associate with each other (admittedly, when the word Melton Mowbray is mentioned, the fat boy inside me thinks of pies), however of the last few years they have gone hand in hand, thanks to one man and his exceptional training facility. To the outsider, and regular “gym monkey”, the Cauldron may look like an old, decrepit barn tucked away in the corner of an old farm yard. But once you roll away the three massive tyres from in front of the main entrance to the container and main training room, you un-earth an overwhelming amount of strongman kit and equipment that would make the “purists” mouth water, but more on that later. Firstly I will introduce the founder and owner of this magnificent facility, which, as many of you who regularly frequent strength websites, is Jason Talbot or JT to the masses. JT is a former England’s strongest man u105kg and owner of www.atlasstones.co.uk (check it out, it’s a must for strongman equipment) and it’s his generosity and passion for the sport and strength sports in general which really make this place such an appealing place to carry out events sessions. Now, much like the barn, he is old and decrepit (just kidding), however his wisdom and advice is the main reason why I continue to frequent this facility on a regular basis. I will cover Jason later in the article, but now want the reader to understand how the Cauldron came about.
After setting up the Container facility, Jason started to gain a bunch of lads that would get together and train strongman events every weekend. After the relative success in competition, of many of the guys that trained at the Container, word spread of the fantastic facility and group that trained there. The Container then became most strongmen in the Leicestershire areas regular training place on a Saturday morning. The success of the facility continued and this is in fact where I first met JT and the Container crew and started my strongman journey. However in early 2011 the owner of the land in which the container was stored decided to sell up, and JT had 2 containers full of equipment and a group of lads desperate to continue to use the fantastic equipment on offer. This is when JT made the conscious decision to move the container into a barn on the farm next door and open a new facility, which we know today as The Cauldron. The video below shows a couple of Cauldron regulars just messing about in the farm yard in the rain in the very first session held down at the facility.
Now, as written above, from the outside the Cauldron doesn’t necessarily instantly scream “ training facility”. In fact if you didn’t know why you were there and were just walking around the farm yard you would probably completely miss the barn which I consider a strongman’s wet dream. Hidden away between the three tyres we have to play with (one 300kg nice grippy tyre, one 350/400kg beast known as Whinny , which only a few heroes have ever flipped, and one with an unknown weight, which I have certainly never seen flipped), is the entrance to a truly special strongman and strength related facility. The first things you notice on entrance are the loading platforms, straight in front of you, ranging from 65” all the way down to 45”, 7 in total. Next to the platform are the quality atlas stones that we are lucky to have thanks to JT. These range from the 60kg training stone, all the way through to the 196kg beats that lay there un-touched. The quality and availability of theses stones could make this facility a must for any strongman, however there is so, so much more equipment that make this place what it is. You only have to look at the right hand wall to see various kegs, sandbags and barrels available for loading, as well as 15kg axes to practice raised holds, a yolk, 3 different specs of loadable famers walk handles, as well as the dreaded suitcase farmers. Add these to the finagles finger (or JT’s digit as it was recently renamed), Conan’s wheel and various gym style dumbbells. If you then look in front of you, just before the platforms you will find my favourite pieces of equipment that are on offer and they are the set of inch replica dumbbells. These include the 51kg, 57kg, 63kg, 69kg, 78kg and the beast that is the Millennium 105kg dumbbell which I believe only 2 men have ever clean and pressed (unfortunately one wasn’t me, but they are both connected to the VikingR Blog). Just when you thought that was enough you look to the left and see three axel bars, 2 JT style logs, a lat pull-down machine and a huge amount of plates that can be loaded on to either of the 2 Texas power bars or the 3 Olympic lifting bars. Then directly behind, completing all the Cauldron has to offer are a power rack and bench, along with some weird concoctions that the crazy owner has invented, including the doomsday dumbbell and the Loxel (A combination of an axel and a log, its horrible). That’s what’s on offer; now let’s look at three of the people who have achieved success in the strength world after frequenting this great facility.
Jason Talbot “JT” – The creator of the Cauldron and former England’s strongest man u105kg. Although he has taken his training down a notch now, every session with JT is worth its weight in gold as the advice he can give and the encouragement he can offer is unreal. He creates all round strength athletes, not just static beasts, as he understands the new demands of strongman and the direction that it has taken. The constant encouragement to do 1 more rep or 10 more meters is always greatly appreciated, as when it comes to comp day, that is what you need.
Adam Bishop “Bish” – Well what can be said about “Bish” (apart from the fact he has a massive head)? He is a fantastic strongman who has been able to hone his skills using the fantastic equipment and listening to advice from JT. In 2011 Adam was crowned 1st in Midlands’s strongest man u105kg, 2nd at BSM u105kg and 1st in the UK’s strongest man U105kg. Since then he has got fat and gone on to open competition and is yet to finish off the podium in competition. Its not his achievements alone that make Bish great to train with its his advice and encouragement with all things training that make every session with him worthwhile. Then you get to see the silly feats of strength and power that he is able to display and this makes you want to train harder to be able to one day stand the chance of getting close to what he is able to do. And he is only 23, knob head!
Jay Pateman “Ursus” – Well most readers will no all about Jay, but I just want to shed some light on what its like to actually see this man in action. On first meeting Jay I could not believe the size of the man. However out of everyone he was the first to speak to me and talk about strength, I understood then, this was his passion and knew with him I was in safe hands. Over the years I have witnessed some insane feats of strength first hand at the Cauldron; however one thing that eluded him for so long was the Millennium Dumbbell. That’s why I was so happy for the man the day he was able to achieve the clean and press, and cast away one of his demons. Like I have said its not just watching Jay which makes him special its his friendliness and his helpful nature which makes him part of the Cauldron atmosphere.
Below you can see a couple of typical sessions at the Cauldron
As you can see from, and read above this is a rather special place. It’s a great combination of lovely kit, good camaraderie and banter that make it a great place to train. I remember rocking up for my first session there with Bish and JT jokingly (I think) asking why Bish had bought him a Dwarf. Its this sort of thing which make training there enjoyable and which I why I think the Cauldron will have a great future. If training was 100% serious all the time it would become stale and boring and that is why I think the Cauldron provides a unique environment with one of the best “coaches” around to make the environment special. So what’s, or should I say who, is next? There is some great talent coming through the ranks at the moment, including junior powerlifting champion come u105 strongman John Hamson and u105 strongman Luke Skippon. Early competition entries already this year for these two have provided very encouraging results and under JT’s tutelage, this reporter predicts a bright future for them both. As well as these two strongmen, there is a few more creeping out of the woodwork in deepest darkest Leicestershire so keep your eyes peeled for the next champion; I promise it won’t be long.
So, if your after a great atmosphere to train in, and don’t mind having the piss taken from time to time, want to use the best equipment around and receive some fantastic advice, get yourself to Leicestershire, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
For VikingR, I’ve been Daniel Ashcroft, Thanks for stopping by!
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