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Saturday, January 23, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: From the archives

I was browsing through the archives of the newspaper The Northern Times and came across these gems, all from 1933 and 1934:

A proposed attempt to solve the problem of the Loch Ness Monster by descending to the bottom of the loch in a steel tube to which is attached an observation chamber, was described by Mr J E Williamson, of Florida, USA, a marine explorer who arrived at Liverpool this week in the Cunard-White Star liner Scythia en route for Scotland. Mr Williamson, who is the originator of undersea motion pictures, said that from the observation chamber a strong beam of light would project from the glass window and he would be enabled to photograph objects 25 to 30 feet away. He believed it would be quite possible to "drift in" on the Loch Ness Monster. "I don't think there is much to fear from an attack by the creature," he added. "I have had attacks before from sharks but have been able to deal with them. It will take me about a month to cover the whole of the loch, and if at the end of that time I do not find any monster I shall conclude that it does not exist."

Source: http://www.northern-times.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/6692/75_Years_Ago.html

I have been unable to find out if this took place or what the result was. I had not heard of this before.

Here is an interesting tale from the same time:

Loch Fleet Monster – As the Embo motor boat “Maid Marvyth,” was entering Loch Fleet on Monday afternoon, the members of the crew were taken by surprise when a monster of a shark, length about 20 feet, followed the boat right up to the Little Ferry Pier, and remained above the water for quite a time. Some of the Embo youths who were in the boat thought it was the Loch Ness Monster, until they were informed by the crew that is was a shark. It is an unusual occurrence for a shark to be seen in Loch Fleet.

Source: http://www.northern-times.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/6301/75_Years_Ago.html

An interesting one for those who think Nessie is a shark. And last but not least:

Broadcasting from Aberdeen on 7th December, Mr Alex Polson, JP, a well-known native of Clyne, Sutherland, said that the fame of the so-called Loch Ness Monster has spread far and wide and many have been scanning this extensive loch day after day all summer. One day several young people found a crooked tree trunk at the water's edge, photographed it, and sent the picture to southern newspapers and reported that the mystery had been solved, but alas for their story the monster has been seen several times since by over 50 persons whose report can certainly be trusted and now many people believe that there is some truth in the story and someone has even attached a line with a baited hook to a barrel surmounted by a flag in the hope of capturing it, but as yet without result.People who have seen it report that it looks like an upturned boat moving quickly through the water. Others say that it looks like a monster eel 20 to 30 feet long with humps on its back. Others again that it has a small head which lifts from a body of great size. One gentleman from Golder's Green, London, says that on 22nd July he saw between Dores and Foyers the nearest approach to a dragon or pre-historic animal he ever saw. It crossed the road about fifty yards ahead of him and appeared to be carrying a small lamb. To him it seemed to have a long neck which moved up and down. The body had a high back and if it had feet it must have been of the webbed kind. It moved very rapidly and disappeared. It was from six to eight feet in length and was ugly. "I am of the opinion," he says, "that it is an amphibian." This amphibian theory is supported by the story of young men at Fort Augustus who tell that 20 years ago they as boys from 10 to 12 were birdnesting among the bushes on the banks of the loch and were terrified to see an animal emerge from the underwood and make for the loch. The incident was forgotten, but now they tell that the beast they saw had a long neck, a small head, a humped-up back, fairly long legs, and its skin was of a pale-yellow colour. The father of one of the boys remembers the incident perfectly because of the excitement of the boy when he reached home.A Norfolk gentleman who was on the lookout for it in June suggests that it must be a large conger eel and such eels have been found weighing 130 pounds, 10 feet in length, and 18 inches in girth, and is at present wandering up and down the loch trying to find its way back to the sea. No private person is willing to tackle the job of catching this wonderful creature alive and it is suggested that the Fishery Board should do so and so solve the mystery. Here are a few of the guesses as to what this monster is: a prehistoric plesiosaurus, a lump of peat detached from the side of the loch, a beluga or white whale, the legendary sea-serpent, a long-necked seal, a very large eel, a grampus, a sea camel, a porpoise, a crocodile, a large otter, a sunfish, a bearded shark, some amphibian. Last week what is believed to be the monster has been photographed and zoologists are now trying to determine from the photograph what exactly it is. The result of its appearance has been a revival of wonderful kelpie stories, and there are few lochs in the Highlands or Islands which did not at some time contain some savage kelpie, or eachuisge, or water horse...The fear of the kelpie was used in Sutherland to prevent Sabbath breaking. One Sunday several children were playing by a lakeside when a fine red pony appeared. One of them got up on its back and invited a chum up behind him. There was also room for one more until only the boy who had the bridle was left. When they started, this boy tried to let the bridle go but found he could not. He remembered about kelpies, whipped out his knife and cut off his finger and so escaped the fate of the others who were drowned.It has also been used to show that the number 13 is unlucky. Thirteen men, one of them a piper, were returning from a wedding and entered an empty house to rest. The piper said "What a pity there are no girls that we might have a dance." In tripped 13 nicely dressed damsels and they began dancing. From his point of vantage, the piper saw that they had hoofs instead of feet and told his partner that he must go out for a few minutes. He did, and escaped. Next morning nothing was to be seen of the others but a few bones by the water's edge. One could go on for a whole night telling such kelpie tales. It is hoped that many mysteries may be solved when the Loch Ness monster is caught.

Source: http://www.northern-times.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/5224/75_Years_Ago.html

Sometimes I think we are no further on with solving the mystery than we were in the 1930s!


Dale Drinnon said...

Loch Fleet is a sea loch emptying into the Irish Sea, SW coast of Scotland. It sounds like a basking shark. Pity it was not something more exotic and further inland.

The sighting by a party os schoolchildern "20 years ago" is interesteing and it is the same incident listed on the books as either 1912 or 1919 (obviously the date vas vague when remembered later) and associated with the names William MacGruer and Mrs Peter Cameron with her brothers. They are both referring to the same event: Mrs. Cameron's maiden name was MacGruer. This is mentioned by Tim Dinsdale. The creature is often said to be like a Brontosaurus but in the version cited here (as elsewhere) it is one of those LONG leggedy beasties that I think is a moose climbing out of the water. The more trustworthy accounts liken it to a camel.

Aaron T said...

Dale Drinnon said...
"Loch Fleet is a sea loch emptying into the Irish Sea, SW coast of Scotland."

Loch Fleet is 50 km north of Inverness, between Dornoch and Golspie, near the settlements of Embo and Littleferry mentioned in the story.

Tabitca said...

You are both right on some counts. Loch Fleet is indeed in the north of Scotland but is open to the sea, though these days via a sluice.


about the sea sluice and bridge:


We don't have Moose in scotland I am afraid Dale but we do have deer and highland cattle. However local children would be able to identify both quite easily. It could of course have been a camel from a traveling circus, who knows? It is interesting to see how things were reported then and the tales of the water horse.

Aaron T said...

Hi. Just to keep things factually correct, and this is nothing to do with sharks or Nessie, Loch Fleet is really a wide bay with a fairly narrow but unobstructed connection to the North Sea. In the early 1800s Telford was tasked to improve the road and decided to build the crossing at a place where the 900 metre width could be made up of 870 m of cheap earth embankment and 30 m of expensive stone bridge. The only problem was that 4 times a day megatonnes of water would still try to get under the bridge to and from the upper part of the sea loch and this would quickly scour away the foundations, so his solution was to fit flap valves under the bridge which would keep the sea out at high tide while allowing the water from the rivers to automatically escape to the sea at other times. To prevent flooding of the upstream area when the flaps couldn't cope - like during heavy rainfall etc - manual sluices operated by winches were added in the 1830s which made the openings under the bridge even bigger. All of this stuff is at the Mound - the landward end of Loch Fleet, and sharks, dolphins and anything else can still swim happily between loch and sea. Homeward bound salmon have to wait for the flaps to open at the bridge before continuing into the River Fleet, and they are a tourist attraction.

With regard to people being able to recognise swimming deer etc correctly, most of them do. It's the others who get into the newspapers and cryptobooks !

Must change my name to "nitpicker"...