Lytham’s ‘Beast of Green Drive’: The Monster that almost certainly wasn’t Andy Owens The Skeptic

‘It was like a monster out of Doctor Who and it needs tracking down,’ said Willie Davidson in May 2005.

He had been playing bowls near Green Drive, a beauty spot near Lytham on the Lancashire coast, when he heard a snarl behind him and saw a strange creature he could not identify. He described it as ‘large as a collie dog but with huge ears, a large mouth and with a lolloping gait.’

A local woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told how she had been walking along Green Drive when she saw it in the fields alongside.

‘I have no idea what it was. I could tell it was the size of a Labrador but (it) looked more like a hare. It can’t have been either – it was surreal.’

Another reported eyewitness, Sandra Sturrock, had a sighting at nearby St Annes on Sea. She said: ‘Last Thursday, about 11pm, I was out walking on the (sand) dunes, (when) I caught sight of something large – Collie-size I thought – light coloured with sticking-up ears.’

The Lytham St Annes Express, Thursday 5th May, 2005: “Could this be the beast?”

‘It was sitting high on one of the dunes, watching me and my dog. I stood still for several minutes, trying to adjust my eyes to seeing it more clearly – but there was no moonlight that night.’

‘I called my dog and put him on the lead and slowly inched towards the animal to get a better look, but it ran off. I then went to where it had been and my dog went mad, sniffing all around the area.’

‘I have never seen anything like this before. I lived in Cheshire for ten years and frequently saw foxes and the odd deer. They usually disappear quite quickly and do not remain watching you.’

According to Chris Dixon, who covered the story for the Lytham St Annes Express, hundreds of people descended onto the Green Drive area to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creature. He wrote: ‘Cars could be seen parked along Mythop Road, Saltcotes Road, and Ballam Road as walkers strove to get a look at the beast.’

Enterprising artist Sam Shearon, who describes himself as a ‘dark artist and conceptual designer’, lost no time in making a sketch of the ‘beast’ which he then circulated to the media, and he said: ‘I have based my drawing on all the accounts mixed together.’ He also created a website offering tee-shirts emblazoned with his sketch.

The supposed Beast of Green Drive, as sketched by Sam Shearon.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: ‘We have checked local zoos and farms, but nothing seems to be missing. It is very bizarre.’

It was briefly picked up by national newspapers including the Daily Mail, reporting in sensational and fun-poking style: ‘Some say it looks like The Hound of the Baskervilles, others mention the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote. But this, apparently, is the beast that has brought terror to an upmarket town and caused anxious residents to look over their shoulders at night. Cynics claim it is the product of fertile imaginations – or one or two gin-and-tonics too many.’

The report stated that there had been over twenty sightings since the story first broke.

Experts at Chester Zoo were reported to be baffled after being shown the picture. A spokesman said: ‘It does not look like any mammal currently alive. It looks more like a mythical beast to us.’

Various readers offered their suggestions as to the identity of the Beast. I was surprised no one suggested the phantom Black Dog of legend and lore, though there were suggestions it could have been an ABC (Alien Big Cat), despite the fact that the picture, descriptions and reported behaviour of the Beast didn’t fit the description of big cats.

One reader, who wanted to remain anonymous, was certain he knew what it was – a Muntjac deer, which had been imported by a local squire for the grounds of nearby Lytham Hall over a century ago. He wrote: ‘It became obvious immediately what this creature was from the description. It has been known for a year or two that there is this deer in Lytham Hall. They are quite shy and retiring animals, and the only time you really see them is dawn or dusk. That is the only explanation for the creature that has been seen.’

However, another reader suggested a different possibility. Diane Heaton recalled that her father lost his pet greyhound, Snowy, in 2003 and wondered if this was the identity of the beast.

She wrote: ‘My Dad has never stopped looking for his dog and has left bones and food which have always been eaten. Could this beast have been Snowy?’

‘It probably wouldn’t look much like a greyhound now. Left out all alone, the dog should have grown several coats to keep himself warm. It would be interesting to hear from some of the eyewitnesses to see if it could have been the dog.’

The Lytham St Annes Express reported on 30th August that local resident Gilda Easton had photographed a fox, which she believed was the beast.

Two years later, another resident, Suki Woodhouse told how she had trapped the animal in her garden shed, and then called the RSPCA.

Nick Green, an animal collection officer for the RSPCA, said: ‘It was very elderly, the oldest fox I’ve ever had, and it was in a very poor condition. It hardly had any hair because of mange, was very underweight and very confused and was struggling to see. We took it to a local vet and unfortunately it needed putting to sleep. This was the best thing for it. It was just so old and ill and was on its last legs. It would have died naturally in the next couple of weeks. It didn’t put up any kind of fight when we picked it up, which is unusual for a fox – they are usually quite a handful. I think (this is) what people have been seeing.’

However, there are always folk who won’t accept a prosaic explanation, as illustrated by various paranormal websites which have featured the story – and, for them at least, the legend of the Beast of Green Drive lives on.

Sources:

‘Could This be the Beast?’, Lytham St Annes Express, 5 May 2005.‘The Beast of Lytham’, Daily Mail, 6 May 2005.(Unknown Headline), Lytham St Annes Express, 30 August 2007.‘The Beast of Lytham is Dead’, Lytham St Annes Express,2 September 2007

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Once residents of Lytham began reporting sightings of a mysterious beast, a local legend was born – one that believers wouldn’t give up in a hurry
The post Lytham’s ‘Beast of Green Drive’: The Monster that almost certainly wasn’t appeared first on The Skeptic.

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