(Investigator #36, 1994 May)

The most convincing evidence of the Lock Ness monster, a photo taken in 1934, shows a long neck above the water and the back of the body barely breaking the surface.

The U.K. Mail under the title "Mock Ness Monster" reported, "But now it is claimed, it was all a monstrous hoax..."

The reporter, John Woodcock, writes:

The creature in the film is said to be nothing more than a 1ft high plastic model, painted grey. It was powered not by a pair of huge flippers, but by a clockwork toy submarine bought for a few shillings from Woolworth's.

The 1934 picture became known as the Surgeon's Photograph, because it was attributed to Colonel Robert Wilson, a Harley Street gynaecologist who claimed to have recorded 'something in the water' on April 19 that year. Now it is alleged he was part of a plot to perpetuate the myth of the monster which began as a joke but spun rapidly out of control.

One of the pranksters, Christian Spurling — who died last November aged 90 — allegedly confessed the whole thing to Loch Ness researchers David Martin and Alastair Boyd.

Christian was the stepson of the man at the centre of the hoax, Marmaduke Weatherell — who also recruited his son Ian, and insurance broker Maurice Chambers.

Weatherell wanted revenge after being ridiculed over footprints of the 'monster' he had found on the beach at Loch Ness the previous year. They turned out to have been made by a dried hippo foot — perhaps part of an umbrella stand.

Christian, an expert modelmaker, said that in January 1933 his stepfather asked him: 'Can you make me a monster?'

The creature was created in eight days and underwent sea trials on a pond before being taken to Loch Ness to be photographed. Four snaps were then given to Colonel Wilson, who already had his story prepared.

The picture — first published in the Daily Mail — caused a sensation. But the pranksters were so overwhelmed by the deluge of publicity that they decided not to divulge the truth.

Today, all those involved are dead, but the legacy of what they unwittingly created lives on. The Nessie legend attracts thousands of visitors a year to the 23-mile long, 750ft deep loch plus a steady stream of researchers...
(U.K. Mail, Monday 14 March to Sunday 20 March, p. 4)