Thursday 9 April 2020

Tim Dinsdale's Binoculars get repaired

A member of my family told me to watch the BBC programme, "The Repair Shop", for a Nessie item and I was not disappointed when I watched the catchup on the BBC's iPlayer. Normally I have my tivo box set up to record anything to do with the Loch Ness Monster, but this one had slipped through the net.

It was series 6 and episode 4 televised on the 8th April 2020 and it had none other than Tim Dinsdale's famous binoculars brought in for repair by one of his sons, Simon (below). Why are they famous? It is because they were the binoculars used by him on that fateful day in April 1960 to check what he was looking at out in the loch before he proceeded to record his famed film which is now a major part of Loch Ness Monster lore.

The pictures in this article are of the actual item which were snapped straight off the screen with my mobile phone camera for your enjoyment and edification. They are a pair of Carl Heinrich 7x18 binoculars and they were a bit the worse for wear. Simon had brought them in as one of the focus wheels had begun to spin and he wanted to take them up to the loch for the 60th anniversary of the taking of his father's film which is now only two weeks away (23rd April).

As you can see from the picture above, the item was in two parts because Tim had unscrewed it to allow Simon to use it as a discreet device during his surveillance operations as a police officer. They were also lacking the usual rubber eyecaps and one of the glass prisms used to invert the image the right way up had a chip in it. 

However, our expert repairer found a new prism and the item was delivered back to a delighted Simon ready for that trip up to the loch sixty years on from that fateful day. Of course, it has to be pointed out that the country is now in a coronavirus lockdown, but I hope Simon can get up there as soon as he can.

So it was a great piece of Nessie history to watch and if you have access to the BBC iPlayer, you can still watch for a number of days before it is removed. The link is here and it is available for one month. Note there are other repair jobs in this episode, but it is a general good watch if you are into antiques.

The author can be contacted at

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Another Nessie Land Hearing (as opposed to Sighting)

As a follow up to the story of Arthur Kopit and the walrus like noises he heard in 1962, we have a similar story to tell here and this seems as good a time as any to recount it. It is from a letter written to the Inverness Courier dated 11th November 1975. It is from an L. B. Croston after the Courier had published an account of the better known Lipinski land sighting some weeks before. 


Avoch. Ross-shire IV 98AT

Sir. — The contribution on the sandbank stranding report of the Loch Ness Monster (October 14th), was most interesting. Some years ago, before returning to Scotland I was checking essays of matriculation students in England. One of the subjects was "An exceptional holiday." A teenager, from the middle of Lancashire, I was afterwards able to find out, wrote a vivid account of a personal experience in the same area: so vivid I discounted it both on its "imaginative perception" and on the fact that most sightings were in the Lewiston - Dores - Foyers triangle. The writer mentioned how in the middle of the night the two boys were awakened by a terrific commotion outside their tent, near the abbey at Fort Augustus, on the loch side, and the drenching sound which fell upon their ears. They did not move until daylight when they found the motor cycle knocked over, their tent nearly awash and the shrubbery hard by beaten down and broken. It was quite evident from their experience that the Monster had indeed paid a visit — Yours etc., L. B. CROSTON. 

Thus ends the short account to add to the roster of land reports. Like Arthur Copit, the emphasis on the story is no so much what was seen as what was heard. Our unknown teenager had effectively filled in a sighting report by way of an essay for his tutor to mark. Where that interesting essay is now, is anyone's guess and all we have is a brief summary by his teacher attempting to remember the event years later.

The disconcerting story could have happened in the 1960s or even further back in the 1950s, who knows? I would like to think the teenager is still alive and with us, albeit now perhaps a pensioner. But all we have are a few sentences, and what can we make of them?

One may be inclined to think the hapless teenagers had merely experienced a stormy night at the loch as incoming waves battered bushes, tent and motor bike. The mention of drenching and a tent awash may suggest this and since they did not venture outside, they cannot be ever sure a large creature was roaming around their tent late at night.

On the other hand, you would think they would know the difference between a stormy night and a disruption which put them into that unsettled state. Indeed, it is unclear whether any of the noises described could be classed as vocalisations rather than noises produced by collisions between one object and another?

I fancy this account happened on the beach at Borlum Bay which is just on the other side of the River Tarff from the Abbey. Needless to say, Mr. Croston's remark about the "Lewiston-Dores-Foyers triangle" is a bit simplistic as the Abbey area has had its fair share of reports over the years. But as to what exactly happened that night decades ago, we need more than this.

A search of the genealogical records reveals Mr. Croston to be Leslie Banks Croston who died in the Black Isle in 1980 aged 71. From another search he turns out to be Major Leslie Croston from St. Helens, Lancashire and confirmed by this 1972 Aberdeen Press and Journal picture of him.

He also owned the Norscot Marina Restaurant in Avoch. The reference to a Lancashire student suggests he previously taught somewhere in that area, perhaps in a military school, but that is more speculative. If the school could be identified, then one would then look for an "alma mater" website or forum and ask who remembered Leslie Croston. Well, that may require a bit more work, perhaps others can help out here? And with that I will leave it there.

The author can be contacted at