Just in time for the city of Hull to be named a UK City of Culture comes word from the Hull Daily Mail that a local historian is leading a 24/7 hunt for the legendary Humber Monster which is rumored to have terrorized the River Hull and the North Sea. Is finding a sea monster the best way to show you have culture?
It could travel at more than 100 mph, had a head the size of an elephant, six humps and terrifying flashing eyes.
According to local historian and Humber Monster Watch leader Mike Covell, that’s what many witnesses reported in the 1920s when the Humber Monster was a popular but frightening attracting in waters near Kingston upon Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The first account appears to be from 1886 when the Hull Daily Mail reported that the Durham, a Hull steamer on its way to Philadelphia, came across an alleged sea monster.
The sightings picked in the 1920s when local fishermen began allegedly seeing unusual sea creatures.
A fisherman who had been standing in the bows of the boat, suddenly gave a shout. His companions then saw what they described as ‘a huge black shape’ moving rapidly away from them in a ‘terrible swirl’ of water.
Throw in the death of a swimmer who witnesses say was killed at the same time they saw a large black shape traveling up the River Hull, reports of a “sea monster” by tourists who’ve never seen water logs before and you have the makings of a Humber Monster.
The reports were limited to sightings until 1938 when the trawler Deepdale Wyke caught an unidentifiable creature in its nets and brought it to where its skull was supposedly put on display at the West Dock Steam Fishing Company. There’s no record of what eventually happened to it.
Then there were the footprints. Sometime after the trawler catch, unknown creature footprints were found heading from the River Humber at Spurn Point towards Hull. No monsters were seen but, capitalizing on the attention, Hull Museum curator Thomas Sheppard showed up and was photographed observing and measuring the prints. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that he made the prints himself with an elephant-foot-shaped wastebasket. Ironically, that’s the only evidence of the Humber Monster currently on display.
Will the Humber Monster Watch see the Humber Monster? Who knows. Will the watchers see something they can’t explain? Of course. Will this give Hull some culture? They’re already getting the award – maybe they should quit while they’re ahead.