Wednesday, 2 March 2022

George Spicer and his Car


Undoubtedly, the George Spicer account is one of the most significant eyewitness stories to come out of Loch Ness. One a hot summer day in July 1933, George and his wife claimed to have seen a lumbering grey creature over twenty feet long cross the road in front of them before disappearing into the loch. I have covered this seminal story several times on this blog with the main article published here.

Though it was not the first report of the Nessie era, it was certainly the one that catalyzed national and international interest in the Loch Ness Monster. After all, this was not just distant hump in the middle of the loch, but something that could break out in front of you on the road! The controversy has continued to this day, was it something akin to a prehistoric monster or something more mundane, such as a line of otters or a huddle of deer as some have averred?



With this in mind, I was contacted recently by one of George Spicer's grandsons, Nigel Spicer. As it turns out, he is one of three brothers and one of them will be appearing on an upcoming documentary to discuss what their grandfather and grandmother saw 89 years before. I think this documentary is the one to be shown on Channel 5 and which our own Malcolm Robinson, author of the "The Monsters of Loch Ness", took part. We look forward to seeing this when it comes out.

But in the meantime, one of the brothers sent me the above photograph of George Spicer with his car. The first question is whether this was the car he was in on that day alongside Loch Ness? The answer is most likely yes. The account related in Rupert T. Gould's book starts in this way:

They were motoring round Loch Ness in their [open] 12-h.p. Austin, having been as far as John o' Groats and back via Inverness.

A look around for a picture of an open top Austin 12 gives us the example picture below.



A comparison with the photograph at the top satisfies me that this was likely the car driven down the loch on that day in 1933. This naturally leads us to the next question which is whether this photo of George Spicer and his car was taken at Loch Ness? After all, people were most likely to take pictures on holidays back then. Would it be too much to ask it was taken at the actual location of the sighting? Probably, yes.

But that would be a picture with powerful connotations, but, alas, the information in the image is not enough to be conclusive on the matter. The top of the car is off, suggesting a sunny day like that at Loch Ness and there are trees or bushes around again suggestive of countryside. But then again it could have been taken a year later three hundred miles away, so who knows? In general, Nigel had this to say about the sighting:

The grandparents (my father’s parents) 1933 sighting has long been of great interest to myself as well as to my two older brothers ... We have all visited Adrian Shine. The only childhood memory we have is one of my brothers sitting on grandmother’s lap as a little boy and her telling him about the sighting. He can remember little of it now but has long been convinced that his grandmother would not lie to a little boy sitting on her lap!

Our biggest regret is that we didn’t really discuss it much with our parents when we were older (parents died several years ago) but I do remember my mother saying that they (as her parents in law) were straight and honest people in her view. She also used to say it was a great pity that that year (1933) my father did not accompany his parents on the Scottish holiday (as he had done in previous years) because he was quick witted as a young man in his early twenties and often had his camera with him. How things might have been different if he had been there too!

We can be certain (unlike one noted sceptic, Ronald Binns) that no lying or deception was involved with the Spicers. Explanations have been proferred and positions have been taken. I know where I stand and I look forward to the tale being recounted on the next Nessie documentary.


Comments can also be made at the Loch Ness Mystery Blog Facebook group.

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com


85 comments:

  1. Amazing to see the (probable) car involved in the encounter. There is nothing about Mr. Spicer that suggests anything other than that he was a sober and sincere person, not given to fanciful story-telling. Looking at the chronology of land sightings in Roland's book, this was the 17th documented sighting of the animal on land. Spicer knew nothing about the tradition of the LNM - he was not a student of the phenomenon hoping for a sighting. He and his wife were able to describe what they saw accurately, and it wasn't deer or otters or some other animal/animals distorted by a mirage effect. A mirage didn't create the trampled foliage leading to the loch when they accelerated and reached the spot where the animal crossed. The only ambiguity is whether the neck stretched beyond the road edge - Roland's book goes into great detail regarding Spicer's initial size estimate and his later clarifications based on his subsequently being informed of the width of the road. I too look forward to the documentary and it's great that the grandchildren - now adults - can offer background and corroboration of the story and insights into the Spicers' temperaments.

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    1. The size estimate changed quite a bit over the years, could it have been some type of seal moving across roadway?

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    2. Not quite,it was changed once some months later when Gould corrected him on the road width.

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  2. I believe there is a genuine sincerity in their sighting. They were not wanting to conform to what had been reported previously, they spoke of what they saw.
    However their descriptions of a 'loathsome' creature always interested me, an 'abomination', 'an absolute affront against nature', various comments attributed to them in discussing their sighting.
    In the discussion of their sighting sceptics often speak of the mirage effect of otters, etc - this bring to mind a discussion I had years ago with the late Di Francis (of Kellas and 'big' cat fame) about a sighting she had of a 'furry/fuzzy' red-brown caterpillar like beast that scuttled across the road in front of her car in the Grampians.
    I too lived in the Grampian region for years, and I too saw a strange 6 foot long, fuzzy, red, 'caterpillar' one Summer day. I had the foresight to accelerate quickly to the 'creature' however, jumped out of my car to see a female red squirrel with 5 babies all clinging desperately to each others tails as they crossed the road en-masse, like a squirrel conga dance! The heat haze/mirage effect on the summer road created a 6 foot long 'shimmering/fuzzy' moving creature... but barely 6 inches in height off the ground. - If the Spicer's saw a group of otters, they certainly would not have seen an abominable creature filling the road, and of substantial height, as well as length.
    The fact that they returned to the area to see substantial areas of flattened grass/vegetation leading to the waters' edge adds to their sighting - a rare, land sighting.
    Cheers

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    1. Did not the author of the Great Orm of Loch ness describe Nessie as being hideous also then?

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    2. Most sceptics now reject the line of otter in a mirage theory as even they cannot swallow the heat inversion magnifying such small creatures so much. Therefore, there is a tendency to amalgamate the "best" of all theories and synthesise the group of deer in a heat haze.

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  3. Brilliant reading Roland. Please keep up the great work you're doing and here's looking forward to the upcoming TV programme.

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  4. This one always reminded me of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu horrors...

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  5. The default instinct of any sighting like this is to think that the witnesses saw something that could be explained as being a known creature but seen with the view obscured by solid objects, weather effects, etc.

    It's the sincerity and conviction of the Spicers that takes me out of that default mode and into "Okay, what if? ....." territory.

    I still err on the side of mistaking a known animal, but I will wait for the documentary, and seeing if it allows us to walk for a mile in the Spicers shoes, before having any conviction in that.

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    1. maybe had a supernatural encounter?

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    2. A supernatural seal perhaps?

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    3. Has been some weird supernatural happening over the years around Loch ness!

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    4. True, but does it rise above the statistical average for other areas? If not, it has no significance...

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    5. Many weird happenings in your neck of the woods, from Ufos to men in Black to Nessies

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  6. What do you think about Mokele-mbembe,

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    1. Not a subject I have read widely on.

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    2. There are large freshwater turtles associated with that African biotope,so maybe that is a cue...

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  7. No corroboration, no other witnesses, no forensic evidence at the scene, even the actual location is unknown, at face value it's doubtful evidence, we shall see what the TV show makes of it.

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    1. As MD said, there were two witnesses and there is a corroborating witness in William McCulloch who cycled to the spot indicated by the Spicers to be greeted by foliage he said looked as if a bulldozer had gone through it.

      The problem regarding forensics was that no real investigators were at the loch in Summer 1933. Gould turned up in November, if the Spicers had given him a more accurate location he could have investigated it. I am pretty sure he must have looked around the area in his motorbike. Four months on, one imagines any evidence would have degraded or recovered its shape. If this had happened in the 1960s, the LNIB would have been there taking important photos. If it had been the 2020s, DNA samples would have been sought.

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  8. Well, there were two people that saw what is depicted in the drawing, so they did corroborate each other. Neither knew there was a tradition of a 'monster' - either in or out of the loch. They stopped the first person they saw after the encounter, who became a 'witness' in that sense, as it was minutes after their encounter. He is a known person. The location is known within a mile or so. Neither of the Spicer's knew the area. In retrospect it would have been a good idea to place a couple of crossed branches or some sign that they could go back to, but they had just seen something mind-blowing and weren't thinking in terms of a forensic examination of the area in the aftermath. Either they were both attention seeking liars, or they saw a mirage distortion of a known animal or they saw the LNM. Why a mirage should happen in that one spot and nowhere else on their journey, before the sighting or after, is something to ponder.

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  9. Well, I find it hard to believe that they saw a giant stomach with esophagus slithering across the road. As GB once described it!

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    1. Correction. GB attributes that statement to someone else, I remember. I forget who. Anyway, I found that hilarious, I still chuckle!

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    2. lol, sounds more like a Ted Holiday quote. George Spicer would not have used such words imo.

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    3. OK yeah, now I remember where I heard the stomach/esophagus analogy. You first mentioned it in one of your paranormal radio interviews.

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  10. They seem honest people but sometimes what you remember or what you draw does differ from what you actually saw. I do think they saw something large on the road and im wondering if it was a huge eel that had left the water as eels do.

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    1. OK, I would believe in a giant eel as a plausible explanation or even a giant seal, but the fact of the matter is that there is no such animal!!!! .....Unless you go down the rabbit hole.

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    2. I too wonder whether it was a large eel.
      They do travel on land.
      I have seen reports from Ireland where a couple of them were trapped in streams feeding into lakes.
      Interestingly, like the Spicers,they were described as absolutely hideous and repulsive looking.
      In one case from the 19 th.century, a specimen actually caught, was 11 feet in length. Slime is associated with eels also.
      Plus it seems they are capable of contortions which we wouldn't even imagine, tail first, hoops etc.
      I doubt whether the Spicers concocted a hoax and maintained it all their lives.
      I've thought for a while eels may well explain some sightings but don't explain large humped,fast moving creatures as witnessed by Mrs.Cary and others from her vantage point . Of course therein lies the long time mystery of Loch Ness and its residents, transient or not.

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    3. I can understand why people look to the giant eel theory as it has an air of scientific respectability about it, but the Spicer account sounds nothing like an eel and we should not try and force square pegs into round holes.

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    4. Well that would be the most logical explanation, if you eliminate all the other improbable candidates.

      Occam's Razor and all that, but that also seems highly improbable and ironically cancels that principle.

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    5. Well, indeed, deer in a heat haze is offered as a theory but nigh on impossible to prove.

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    6. Seems like it's an either-or situation. Either the LNM is a giant eel or it's something else. Two apex predators co-existing in such a relatively small body of water seems unlikely.

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    7. well. you know where I tend toi stand on what is the most plausible explanation for what Nessie might be!

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  11. Per the 'mirage' theory, Roland do you have a way of researching what the maximum temperature was on the day of the encounter? As you cited in your earlier article on the Spicers, there is no way of knowing the composition of the road back in the 30's. It could have been dirt, not some sort of heat retentive paving material. The temperature on the day would be useful data in any case.

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    1. MD, see my article at:
      https://www.skeptic.org.uk/2010/08/monster-or-mirage/

      A T Lovcanski

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  12. I think its even possible that loch ness harbours the biggest eels in the world.

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    1. One tiny problems, no one has caught anything longer than about three feet (I think). I would have expected a six footer to have ended up on a hook by now. You would have to take the view that there is a quantum leap from three to thirty feet to account for this.

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    2. Did you see the 7 ft eel caught on camera the other week in a taiwan lake?

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    3. Well, that's my point. There was a 7 footer in that lake and they caught it!

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    4. A 7 footer hardly accounts for the gargantuan something people have been seeing for years.

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    5. Like the Taiwan lake, I would expect a 7 footer in Loch Ness to be likewise caught by now.

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    6. Caught on camera , not caught on a rod.

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    7. where there not really large ones caught up in drainage ducts, clogging them?

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    8. There was a report from some vacationers who were walking by the loch ran into a 25 ft eel resting in the shallows!

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  13. Great post again GB, keep knocing them out of the park my friend. I always thought the Spicer account was fascinating, yeah mirages on the road can fool you, as a field engiener I have had many strange illusions on hot roads. What really makes this one stand out weas the description of the bushes by the side of the road.

    From that, something big was there. We will probably never know what however.

    Do you happen to know the name of or when this new documentary is coming out?

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    1. haha, If I actually open my eyes the name of the documentary is in there..... D'oh!

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  14. Looking at this sighting again I do not understand why the undulating neck did not just flop down onto the road surface as the animal moved.It would need some sort of muscular/skeletal support to allow movement but given it was undulating this rules out any sort of neck vertebrae.
    I have always been enthralled by this sighting but only now questioning how an animal could move forward across the ground with a long neck.
    Hope I can be proven wrong!

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    1. some type of invertebrate, like the old Slug theory?

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    2. Just read book by Tim Dinsdale, and he had 5 views on what Nessie might be!
      Giant long neck seal/Giant eel/Pleasisour/Great Orm/Amphibian

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    3. Very muscular strong flexable creature.

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  15. Hour and a half documentary on Champ in Lake Champlain. Some references to Loch Ness and associated luminaries, but centres on a withheld Holy Grail video of Champ. A few interesting bits...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cba4e7FOs-g&t=28s

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    1. Is that the video where the snippet showed something going under the boat? The people behind it are holding out on a payday as I recall?

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    2. Yes, indeed that is the one. An American broadcaster originally had the entire video but only showed bits of it (some say not the best parts) but some shyster lawyer now has it and is holding out for major payola...

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  16. the composition of the road is interesting, we know the A82 was being re-aligned and tarred in 1933 but wade's road may still have been unmade. not seen many photos of that road from that time.

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  17. My Momma was born the year after in 1934. She passed yesterday. The modern LNM legacy started at this time.

    In her honor and memory. I pray and hope that she is in a better place.

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  18. Sincere condolences, John.

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  19. Sorry to hear of your loss John.

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  20. Sorry for your loss John.

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  21. John, my deepest condolences.

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  22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coEr6W4F5HU

    Lee Frank - Coast to Coast AM interview. Diver for Loch Ness searches during the 70's

    Roland have you come across Lee Frank by chance? Here is the interview on Coast to Coast AM

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    1. I spoke with Frank last year then he went awol. He is also a Bigfoot hunter.

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    2. I've heard Lee Frank talk on C to C. He once told of Frank Searle physically attacking him.

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    3. You know, I was just thinking. Frank Searele may have heen a lot of fun in a pub, if ya got to know him, but sooner or later somebody was going to wind up with a bloody nose.

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    4. Oh, how the time has passed. I still have a yellowed article from The Los Angeles Times with accompanying photo of the famous “Flipper” Also, an extensive article from same news paper on the LNIB, both from 1972. Lee mentions the Richard Jenkyns sighting. Always fun to listen to Lee again.

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    5. Ah, what does Lee say about Jenkyns, seeing I recently published on it?

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    6. Sorry, very chatty today. Oh jeez. The reoccurring theme of the paranormal Nessie Ted Holiday and so forth never ends as Lee is asked to expound. The weird happenings at the Cary house and Belesskine House with that nut Crowley. Who knows, I wasn't there. I believe in the paranormal, but sometimes it taxes the material world mind set. If there is an Evil agency influencing humankind, weak minded individuals are susceptible and invite interaction. To wit Crowley.

      Lee discounts the Plesiosaur theory as well as the Giant Eel and Seal theory. As far as I'm concerned, we can all put these ideas to bed. Giant long Necked Seals have for decades been touted as the explanation for Lake monsters and Sea Serpents. Stop the Insanity!

      Concerning Bigfoot, Lee hints at a thought form, there is a word for that which escapes me at the moment, tupa? but basically means that our consciousness creates our reality and these apparitions along with religious themed notions e.g. Marian apparitions and the like.. Hmm...That's another head scratchier. Now, some may say that these creatures are paranormal in nature and are in some way connected to UFOs, or interdepartmentalality, maybe. I have an open mind, but reject the flagrant absurdity. Maybe my mind is creating the ridiculousness. LOL

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    7. Yeah, I know about your recent article Roland, he just mentions it in passing.

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    8. Last sentence "Interdimensional" Stupid spell checker. LOL

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    9. For your consideration.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRHSUIYOt7s

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    10. Some do see Nessie as being paranormal, more akin to being ghosts of prehistoric creatures!

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    11. Do think that the giant eel and the unusually seal is still in play though for some of the nessie sightings!

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  23. Sorry for your loss John.

    This is a funny one for me. It's a huge outlier from the usual humped sightings in the Loch. Which either makes it incredibly important or a misnomer. I personally don't read anything much into the integrity of witnesses unless I know them well myself. Police officers can commit murder and murderers can be honest as the day is long. Though let's be as positive as we can first...
    2 corroborating witnesses of good standing saw a creature they couldn't identify at a location associated with a mysterious monster. If the LNM is real it almost certainly is a creature unlike anything we know of - or it's an enlarged version of a known creature. If I was to believe them outright then what they saw seems correct to me as its size and shape could account for the majority of water sightings too.

    The other 2 outcomes are a misidentification or they're lying. All 3 are valid. If I was a gambling man (Which I am) I'd suggest it's a misidentification - simply for the fact that if the creature came on land with any sort of regulatory (or is an air breather) then I think we'd find it pretty quickly). That said, I think the fact that this story hasn't been discredited after so long holds weight too so I would never rule it out completely. And on top of all that it's simply a wonderful tale.

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  24. a few years ago near loch tarff i remember seeing a poor stag with a big plastic sheet wrapped in it's antlers, it's possible the spicers saw a highland cow or stag in a similar quandary, making it's outline/silhouette look much bigger and monstery.

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