In August 1935, when the holiday season was at its height, one of Preston’s most prominent citizen’s journeyed to Scotland and returned to town with an astonishing tale.
At that time the policing of Preston was carried out by the Preston Borough Police Force, under the guidance of the Chief Constable J P Ker Watson, who had been in charge for 20 years.
That summer Watson packed his suitcase and headed for Scotland, in particular the area around Inverness. During his vacation he drove along the road from Fort Augustus to Inverness and halted at the 13 miles to Inverness sign post, near to a castle on the shore of the famous Loch Ness.
What he observed from his vantage point was to make the following headline in the Lancashire Evening Post –‘The ‘Monster’ Of Loch Ness – Appears before Preston’s Chief Constable’.
At that period of time the search for the Loch Ness Monster was a frenzied one with innumerable sightings and the Chief Constable had been told to look out for the creature as he ventured into Loch Ness territory.
He was keen to tell a Post reporter how he had seen a head and humps moving above the water, almost a mile from the shore. He estimated the length of the creature as between 25 and 30 feet with a relatively small head and very large bumps. Keen to record his sighting, he had done a rough sketch which the Post cartoonist Furnival happily reproduced for inclusion in the newspaper.
He told the reporter he felt it was not unreasonable that a creature could survive in the deep waters, with vegetation in abundance on the bottom of the lake. The Chief Constable then relating how many of the locals were convinced the monster did exist and thought it quite conceivable that such a creature could have come up into the loch and stayed there.
With hundreds continually flocking to Loch Ness, hoping to catch a sight of the creature, it had boosted tourism in Inverness, but he felt the locals did not have any ulterior motive for publicising their monster’s existence.
It seems Preston’s senior policeman was not the only Chief Constable who believed in the existence of ‘Nessie’, because in 1938 the Chief Constable of Inverness penned a letter stating that it was beyond doubt that the monster existed.
He was at the time concerned over reports that a hunting party were about to descend on Loch Ness armed with harpoon guns and were determined to catch the creature ‘dead or alive’.
Sporadic sightings continued for some 30 years and in 1963 a film of the creature was taken on the loch – but from some five kilometres distance it was of poor quality.
Some of the most infamous photos of the monster were taken by Lancashire man Frank Searle, who moved to Loch Ness in 1969 living in a tent looking for definitive proof of its existence.
When his photos were published in 1972 it caused a worldwide sensation, before they were eventually exposed as fakes. Searle moved back to Fleetwood and lived out his years in relative anonymity in the port.