Unsolved mystery of the Waveney monster
PUBLISHED: 09:52 10 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:51 06 July 2010
The mystery of the "Waveney Monster" - an enormous beast more than 10 foot long and weighing more than a tonne - has been recalled by a former coypu trapper.
The mystery of the “Waveney Monster” - an enormous beast more than 10 foot long and weighing more than a tonne - has been recalled by a former coypu trapper.
Noel Rochford, who was a member of Coypu Control, was able to explain the background to a “monster” hunt more than 25 years ago.
He and fellow trapper, Colin Denny, of Beccles, had seen the “monster” a couple of years earlier.
When officials at the Ministry of Agriculture refused to take their sighting seriously, they decided to ask the public for help to identify the mysterious creature.
It became such a sensation that Broads holiday company Hoseasons offered a £10,000 prize or reward to any member of the public, who could get a close-up photograph of the creature.
And so, the hunt for the “Waveney Monster” started in earnest in March 1984, said Mr Rochford, of Burgh St Peter, near Beccles.
He had seen a large creature, possibly 10ft in length, with rough, thick fur and big eyes, come out of the water with “almost a loud snort” near the cut on the river at Burgh St Peter.
“When I told the ministry, officials just laughed and said: 'It's another of your jokes.' But I'd seen it a couple of years earlier,” said Mr Rochford, who worked for the ministry's eradication programme for almost nine years until the task was officially completed.
He was persuaded by the EDP's photographer to look for the creature. Together with Mr Denny, they “posed” for the pictures in the coypu control craft. But Mr Rochford remains absolutely convinced that he saw a large creature. “Colin and I both saw it when we down the river towards Haddiscoe and the Burgh marshes,” he added.
“It wasn't a seal. This thing weighed a tonne or maybe more. It was a huge thing and when the head came out of the water, it was a bit frightening. It had brackish fur like a coypu and a big shaped head. It was enormous,” said Mr Rochford, who was holding the tiller.
“It certainly wasn't a coypu or a larger relative,” said Mr Rochford. The last wild coypu was trapped on the Ouse, near St Neots, in April 1988 - three years ahead of schedule.
Coypu escaped from a farm at East Carleton Manor in 1937 where they were being bred for their fur. They rapidly became a major threat to river and flood defences and finally, in 1981 the Ministry of Agriculture was given £2.5m for a 10-year eradication programme.