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Sunday, February 28, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: A Skeggy Sea Monster

During the 1960s there was a Butlins holiday camp at Skegness in Lincolnshire that attracted lots of visitors and a spate of sea monster sightings.

A holidaymaker is appealing for a middle-aged couple to come forward to verify his story about “something like the Loch Ness Monster” which he claims to have seen at Chapel St Leonards [near Skegness] .Mr George Ashton of Miles Road Sheffield was strolling near the beach recently with his wife, May, when they were ‘mystified’ by the sight less than 100 yards offshore. “It had a head like a serpent and six or seven pointed humps trailing behind”, he said. Mr Ashton, a 49 year old shot-blaster at Sheffield casting works, has a caravan at the seaside village just north of Skegness. He also has a motor boat and said “When I have been out at sea I have seen seals and sea snakes swimming about and what I saw was neither of these. “At first I thought it was a log but it was travelling at about 8 miles per hour and going parallel with the shore. We watched it for some time coming from the direction of Chapel Point until it disappeared out of sight towards Ingoldmells. “I just didn’t believe in these things and tried to convince myself it was a flight of birds just above the water. But it was leaving a wake in the water. I even thought of a miniature submarine but after watching it for some time I knew it couldn’t be. “There was no noise, it just skimmed through the water.” About a 100 yards from them was a middle-aged couple who were also looking out to sea. “They disappeared onto a caravan site nearby”. said Mr Ashton.

“There was no one else about and I want them to prove to my friends that I’m not joking. I have always been the first to laugh at the Loch Ness Monster and such things as flying saucers – things that cannot be explained – but not anymore. “I will swear on oath about what I saw”. Said Mrs Ashton, “It really was an incredible sight and a complete mystery”. Mr Jack Hawkes, licensee of the Smugglers Inn at Chapel St Leonards, just opposite the site where Mr Ashton keeps his caravan, said “He seem to be the only person to have seen it, but the way he described his experience convinced me he saw something!”. Said a Coastguard official, “I haven’t seen any monsters. We get sharks sometime, but not of this description”.

Source: Skegness Standard 19th October 1966

This was not the first time something had been sighted off the coast in that area:

  • ON 7th August 1960 5 witnesses saw a fast-moving creature offshore in the sea described as black, long and whale-like.

  • On August 14th 1960 Mr Len Booth reported that he saw a strange whale-like creature, also witnessed by Mr John Dutton. This was in the same area

  • The following day, August 15th, Mrs Joan Betts and Rosina Stubbs saw a long black thing, dark and curved, about 800 yards (265 metres) offshore, going fast through the sea.

  • Then earlier in 1966 (exact date unknown) Mr John Hayes saw a huge dark shape 500 yards (165 metres) from shore moving at about 20 mph .

    (More details of these sightings can be found in Sea Serpents and Lake monsters of the British Isles by Paul Harrison, 2001, Robert Hale ltd, London).

So what was it? Well, some of the sightings could have been a whale or a basking shark but the sighting in the newspaper article was different. Mr Ashton said he knew what seals etc. looked like and it was nothing he had seen before. Any suggestions as to what he saw?


Dale Drinnon said...

There is another confusion because of the Scrag Whale-which seems to have been the Atlantic population of gray whales (commonly seen off California in the Pacific if at all any more)

The multihumped sea monster, like the earlier one at Loch Hourn famously seen by MacRae and Twopenny, often listed as the Leda Sea-serpent, are only illusions created by the form of the waves in the wake looking like humps. In the case of the Leda sighting, some of the published views of the "creature" make this quite clear. Heuvelmans classifies these sightings as Many-humped Sea serpents and also mentions in the text that it is possible for waves in a boat's wake to create the appearance. I suggest that that is the general explanation for ALL such cases: and many different sorts of things make the appropriate type of wake, whales and Sea-serpents included. The illusion of humps in itself is indeterminate as to what sort of creature is making the wake, if any. And it is really the ONLY reason to invoke the Sea-serpent's supposed "Vertical undulation", which is therefore also meaningless.

All such cases are only so many red herrings. And they are the most common water-monster reports world-wide, they turn up at all latitudes despite what Heuvelmans seems to say. And both Many-humped and Super-otter categories are only subcategories of the same thing-which overlap in each other's supposed territories; and both also appear at Loch Ness, etc.

Syd said...

". He also has a motor boat and said “When I have been out at sea I have seen seals and sea snakes swimming about ....."
Sea snakes at Skeggy ... I hope not.

theo paijmans said...

Fascinating account! Could you perhaps mail me a digital scan of the article you cite as source: Skegness Standard 19th October 1966?

I'd be much obliged!

Kind regards,


Tabitca said...

The article is in Peter Costello's "In Search Of Lake Monsters" book 1974.

Tabitca said...

sorry put comment in wrong place ...it is in the Paul Harrison book mentioned in the text.