Monday 13 January 2014

Frank Searle Speaks!

A fellow monster hunter, Scott Mardis, altered me to an interesting YouTube video on Frank Searle. To be more precise, it is by Frank Searle himself and is described as a cassette recording he sent out to subscribers of his newsletter in 1979. My thanks to Terry Sly who owns the YouTube channel for putting this online.

You may or may not want to listen to the whole tape before I discuss it below. If you listen first, be warned there is a two minute silence at 28 minutes which is not a fault. The discussion by Frank can be divided into five sections:
The Search for the Monster

This is the main section consisting of Frank's views on the creatures as well as the attempts to track it down. Not surprisingly, he is somewhat scathing of organisations and expeditions he regarded as profiteering enterprises. The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau does not escape his judgement as he accuses the organisation of non-existent camera watches in the last few years and an amateurish approach. 

People involved in those latter days may choose to answer this themselves, though in my recent tribute to the late Roy Mackal, it seems there is an implication that the search had moved from surface camera watches to other techniques such as sonar, hydrophone and so on.

He is equally scathing of Robert Rines and the Academy of Applied Sciences and suggests the prevalent theory of the time that the famous "Gargoyle" photograph was none other than the monster prop for the 1969 Sherlock Holmes film. Frank even claims he has a shot of the sunken prop underwater, but gives no indication as to how he obtained this! It seems Frank's view of the AAS would not be far off that of modern sceptics!

Frank goes with the popular theory of its time, the advanced or modified plesiosaur theory. Though he also says the creature is not an air breather. Are these two reconcilable? Thinking also that there may be thirty animals in the loch, he splits them into three or four families which keep to their areas of the loch. An interesting view, though what makes him think that is not clarified.

Of course, there will be agreement between Frank's Nessie views and other monster enthusiasts. I agree with him that sightings are not much more than ten per year but I do not agree with him when he dismisses land sightings as all fabrications and misidentifications. Again, sceptics and Frank Searle meet on common ground. Curiouser and curiouser!

What would Frank do if he had unlimited exploration funds? He would dredge the loch for those Nessie skulls and bones. Now this kind of operation is objected to today, but given the loch floor covers over ten square miles, that would seem to be somewhat over protective. But then again, how much surface would you have to dredge to hit Nessie gold?

Review of interesting cases

The recording goes silent for a couple of minutes after 28 minutes, but don't adjust your controls as Frank does come back with a selection of his own alleged sightings and others from the literature.

Interesting points around Loch Ness

A whistle stop tour of the loch then begins as Frank begins near Dores and heads south and then north along the loch with various observations. One interesting statement he makes as his imaginary tour goes past Alltsigh is how he claims to have had his first sighting, not when he pitched his tent in 1969 but in 1965 when he was on holiday at Loch Ness.


Some old folk tales are related as Frank relates the tale of the Witches Burn running by his tent and the soldier ghosts that reputedly march between Ballacladich and Dores.

Monster Hunting Tips

Finally, some monster hunting tips from our controversial figure as he sums up his time there with 25,000 visitors to his caravan exhibition, 2,000 letters answered, 38,000 hours of surface watching, 38 sightings and 9 pictures! The video finally puts up a picture of the interior of Frank's caravan exhibition which I took in the early 1980s. I am not aware of any other such snaps, but would like to see if any are out there to add to the historical Nessie archive.

I would also have to ask Terry about the Searle gravestone at the end of the video. I am not sure it is that of Frank Searle, who I believe died in 2005.

How the tape turned up is a story in itself. Terry's father was John "Sparky" Sly, a piano player, who met Frank Searle in the 1970s when he took his piano up north to try and "serenade" the monster. You can see a clip of a conversation he had with Frank Searle below. After that, Frank sent his tape and newsletters to the Sly household. How many of these tapes survive today is not known, so again, thanks to Terry for putting it online on his YouTube channel.


  1. See more Info & Facts about Loch Ness Monster - real or fake!

  2. Thanks again GB. Another good article.

    I wonder if Frank would argue that the 'modified' plesiosaur is not an air breather, by virtue of being 'modified.

    Another thought that struck me reading this: if the monsters are thought to keep to the sides and bottom of the Loch, how come not many have scoured these places? It would narrow down the places to search a bit. I can only think of the diver that got scared by the frog-like creature, although that wasn't a piece of LNM research. Obviously there's the Rhines expeditions, but I'd like to see a complete scouring of the edges of the loch.

    1. It's still a lot of area so sonar is often the first choice of instrument.

  3. interesting bit of audio- I always envisioned his voice to be on the gruff side. Mr. Searle sounds quite well-spoken here. Did you not say that someone has a Frank Searle biography in the works? from what little I know about the man, he seemed to be quite a character, to say the least. there are a few used copies of his "Nessie" book available on Amazon- in your opinion, GB, would it be worth my while to purchase one to add to my LNM collection?

    1. Yes, Paul Harrison met Frank before his death and conducted some interviews with a view to writing what I would regard as the definitive biography. I thought 2013 might have been the publication year but I guess events overtook him and so I am holding out for 2014!

      Frank's book is rather thin but I bought mine years ago. Still worth reading (with a pinch of salt). Mind you, I collect just about any Nessie book, so find a cheap copy, eBay might be better.

    2. bodge from suffolk16 January 2014 at 01:48

      Another great article, i must say i've a bit of a soft spot for frank searle & although he seems to have started out on the right course, the publicity & fame he got with his 'pictures' led him astray ! & he also liked the ladies !! great to listen to him explaining his thoughts & experiences of being at the loch, i to thought he would have spoken a bit more cockney than he comes across .Lets hope the biography is published this year.I also liked his book but don't take it to seriously.

    3. mmmm...I'm afraid that I'm quite harsh on people who act in bad faith.
      If you want to have a soft spot for a monster-hunter then I nominate Steve Feltham -- who's been bonkers enough to live in a caravan at Dores for 20 years, and then to be honest enough to say that he's seen nothing.


    4. Frank does have this loveable rogue air about him. I met him once, he was nice enough, but we shouldn't forget the darker side.

    5. Indeed, his darker "Hulk" side came out when, as the story goes, he slammed poor Ol'e Lee Frank up against a tree for
      impugning that his pics were fake! Must have been a lot of fun in a pub. Quite a story teller though.

    6. Actually, Steve said he once saw "something" speeding across the loch like a torpedo, but doesn't attempt to identify it. Make of it what you will.

  4. Strange that believers have any time for Searle. Surely hoaxers have done more than even sceptics have to turn the LNM into a joke subject in the public s eyes?

  5. Yes, I believe that there is something strange in Loch Ness. That strange thing is whatever leads otherwise sane people into imagining that there is something strange in Loch Ness.

    In other words, sane people don't believe there is anything strange in Loch Ness, except a strong tourism motive.

    1. bodge from suffolk17 January 2014 at 14:18

      At least there's no disagreement about what franks photo's show !!!

  6. "That strange thing is whatever leads otherwise sane people into imagining that there is something strange in Loch Ness."

    By what process did you assess them as "otherwise sane" ?

  7. Though Searle may have been a shameless faker who created some awful photos that have only hurt the discussion, he actually seems to be truly interested in the subject and here gives an interesting and thoughtful history. He soon launches into attacks on other hunters though...