It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...
Whilst researching my new book MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: KENT, I was amazed to uncover several stories pertaining to a large creature lurking in the River Medway. After the book was published I got in touch with Peter Cook at the Kent Messenger who spoke of a legend from the early 2900s regarding the stretch.
On April 16th 2009 Peter wrote of ‘Jack’s tales of chasing mystery river monster’, in his column, THE WAY WE WERE, stating:
‘Fishermen are well known for tales of “…the one that got away”. But arms cannot be stretched wide enough to describe the monster chased by Tom Pocock and his sons Jack and Thomas junior.
The tale was often told at The Old George in Globe Lane, Chatham which Tom Pocock kept until his death in 1947 at the age of 77. It was also a frequent topic debated in the New Inn, Chatham High Street, kept by Jack, and at the Three Brothers, another Chatham pub, kept by Thomas junior.
Before they became publicans all three were fishermen, having served seven-year apprentices to become Freemen of the River Medway. The story goes that Jack Pocock was aboard his boat near Sun Pier one day, when he looked up to see a creature lying on the surface a few yards away. It was said to be about 40 ft long, and lying motionless like, “…a monstrous eel”. The creature had a hump on its back and a long snout. Its colour was said to be “greyish-white”, the hair along its back resembling that of a hog.
When Thomas Pocock senior arrived on the scene in his bawley boat, Thistle, he had with him a 12-bore shotgun, which he fired at the monster. But according to news reports at the time, “..he might as well have been firing an airgun at a battleship”.
Next day he loaded the gun with ball bearings. A shot from this caused the creature to shudder and leap, but it got away. News of the monster reached the national newspapers. Soon crowds were congregating on the banks of the Medway in the hope of spotting it. A week after it was first spotted, the creature broke the surface in Gillingham Reach, just under the bowsprit of Tom Pocock’s boat. He had a big game gun with six-inch cartridges, and got in a shot at Pinup Reach, but the creature dived and resurfaced out of range.
Speculation was rife about what the creature could be. Some said it was a whale. Feeling unwelcome, no doubt, it left the Medway and has never been seen since.’
Of course, reports more recently suggest there is something incredibly long and elusive in the waters of the River Medway. And it has no intention of leaving.