Man Who Filmed Nessie, The - Book Review
Loch Ness Monster (blog)
Posted by Glasgow Boy
September 6, 2013


Twenty-six years after his untimely death, a biography on the greatest hunter of the Loch Ness monster has finally arrived. The author is that hunter's own youngest son, Angus Dinsdale, who was born the night the BBC televised Tim Dinsdale's famous footage on their Panorama programme.

Perhaps that juxtaposition of Loch Ness monster and family life sums up the man who devoted twenty-seven years to the hunt for that most elusive of quarries. It had been some weeks earlier that he had shot a minute of film showing a dark object crossing Loch Ness. The author of the book is in no doubt as to what was filmed. He was the man who filmed Nessie.

Angus's book fills in the gaps left by his own father's works. Tim had written of his times at Loch Ness in his books, Loch Ness Monster and Project Water Horse. However, not much is known of the child, youth and man prior to 1960 or the man in his twilight years. This book reveals more of the man who began life in Aberystwyth, Wales in 1924. Tim's life continued in the Far East where his father worked, and in those Depression years we learn something of his formative years, which took in the normality of school life but also pirates hijacking the ship that was taking him back to school for a new term.

Needless to say, he survived to tell the tale and the story continues into the war years as Tim joined the Royal Air Force and afterwards as he pursued a career in avionics. Add to this his marriage to Wendy and the arrival of children and you have the formula for a normal, happy life.

Then the Loch Ness monster came along.

We read how Tim's interest in Fortean phenomena began with a haunted house in Quebec. When he moved back to England, a curious magazine article entitled The Day I saw the Loch Ness Monster piqued his curiosity further. Before long, he was off on a weeklong trip to investigate it for himself, and the rest is history.

Did I say happy, normal life? We read that within some years Tim gave up his aeronautical career to pursue Nessie and constantly skirt on the edge of financial insecurity that was held back by book sales, TV appearances and the lecture circuit.

Once the book enters monste'r territory, the author draws on Tim's own words from his two main books, but especially from Project Water Horse,' which tracks Tim's activities up to the early 1970s. The man's determination is evident and is bolstered further by two head and neck sightings. But the conclusive proof he sought never comes and the 1970s fade into the 1980s.

I was especially interested to see what Tim got up to in the 1980s, but that which comes upon all men as the eye grows dim and the natural force abates came upon Tim Dinsdale. It was evident that health issues and a damaged boat put an end to the long days of drifting by boat along the loch shores and pulling his weight with the LNI and Rines team. The end came with a heart attack on the 14th December 1987.

I had recently read 'Project Water Horse,' and so the stories of various personalities, experiments and events around the loch were familiar. So, in some sense I am the wrong person to speak on the book as the impact is somewhat lessened by this familiarity. I am sure others will not be so disadvantaged as they read it.

Angus also tells the story from a child's point of view, since he was a schoolboy throughout these times. We have tales of family ventures, injuries, frivolity and the time his dad ruined the washing machine in the name of Nessie research. Angus relates his own volunteer work for the LNI (despite being only ten years old) while one reads with amusement of the leisure activities such as the races to empty the latrines in the quickest time.

The human element is very much present in this book, but do not expect a long and detailed defense of the Loch Ness monster. Certain photos, films and sightings are cited, but the ongoing debate about various items is left for others. 'The Man Who Filmed Nessie' completes the story of the man who summed up the search for the Loch Ness monster. I am not sure we will see his like again as skepticism rolls over the loch like a Highland mist. Individuals still visit the loch in search of the prized picture of Nessie, but not at the sacrifice and cost we saw exercised by Tim Dinsdale. It may take another better Dinsdale-type film to start the circus again. However, I suspect most are convinced that will not happen.

The book is also prefaced with an introduction by Tim's widow, Wendy.


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Dr. Henry H. Bauer, emeritus professor of chemistry and science studies
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
May 2013

Tim Dinsdale's filming of a Loch Ness monster in 1960 set off more than two decades of intense searching and enormous publicity; this book recaptures the excitement of those years and reminds us of the wealth of solid evidence that Nessies are real creatures.

Through three decades of expeditions, Dinsdale kept a clear-headed, critical appreciation of that evidence despite the staggering frustration of not bettering the 1960 film. Tim's integrity and strength of character stand in stark contrast to the frustrated others who try to explain away the evidence as sturgeons, birds, otter-boards, etc., and who, saddest of all, claim that the 1960 film shows only a boat. Tim's film is now available at this book's website, allowing everyone to see what nonsense this boat explanation is.

Tim was always clear about the importance of his quest and he took it with appropriate seriousness, but he never took himself seriously. He was a delightful companion, full of good humor, a wonderful exemplar of free spirit coupled to conscientious responsibility.

Tim's dedication and integrity influenced innumerable lives. His work stimulated a career change for me, very much for the better; and I find myself still grappling with the conundrum that floored Tim 50 years ago: Why does science ignore so much that's of such great interest?

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Nicholas Witchell
BBC News Royal Correspondent
May 2013

Tim Dinsdale was one-of-a-kind. A special man from a special generation. He combined a sense of adventure, incubated by his early travels and hardened by his wartime service, with an infectious curiosity about life and a bloody-minded determination to puncture establishment pomposity. In 1960 he found a focus for these instincts and his long and determined quest at Loch Ness was launched.

I met Tim for the first time in 1970. That was the summer when he was running the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau site at Achnahannet. It was my first visit to the loch. I'd become intrigued by the mystery. Looking back, I realise these were the first stirrings of that journalistic instinct which was subsequently to take me to a working life with BBC News.

Loch Ness was such a good story. It had everything: romance, mystery, adventure and the prospect of a startling discovery. Tim was one of a band of wartime veterans who were drawn to it. I suspect they may have found civilian life a little dull. Loch Ness was a marvellous diversion - except that, for Tim, it became so much more.

He was a delightful man whose life took an extraordinary turn. It was a pleasure to have known him, his wife Wendy and his family, and to have been able to re-live his great adventure through the pages of Angus Dinsdale's absorbing biography.
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