‘Beast of Hackney Marshes’ - has Kula Shaker drummer solved the mystery?

13:12 25 May 2012

Willow the dog - the "Beast of Hackney Marshes"?

Willow the dog - the "Beast of Hackney Marshes"?

Carmen Valino - freelance on shift

The mystery of the “Beast of Hackney Marshes” may have become a little less mysterious – the drummer from Kula Shaker believes the monster is none other than his massive pet dog, Willow.

Last week, the Gazette published photographs taken by terrified student Helen Murray who says she saw a huge animal as she walked through woods near the River Lea earlier this month.

“I managed to get away but was scared half to death,” she said, adding that the creature was bigger than a person and covered in shaggy black fur.

But within a day of the Gazette appearing on newstands, Paul Winter-Hart, the drummer from the 1990s chart-topping group, reckoned he’d solved the mystery.

Paul’s wife Nicole contacted us to say she “beast” looked suspiciously similar to the family’s pet pooch.

“I’m still laughing,” said the 42-year-old, who designs clothes for the children’s fashion website www.nixieclothing.com. “I think this poor girl, Helen, saw Willow our dog.

“My husband recognised her straight away when he saw the paper. He bought a copy to show me and said, ‘Look, Willow’s made the front page!’

“I knew it was her immediately. It’s funny because our friends call her ‘The Beast’ and now she’s ‘The Beast of Hackney Marshes’!”

Willow is a four-year-old Newfoundland, a giant breed of dog, and Nicole and Paul, 40, and the couple’s children Ivy, 12, and Faye, nine, often walk her along the river near their home in Lower Clapton.

Nicole said: “I don’t know where we were when those pictures were taken - Willow must have run up ahead of us.”

Chunky Willow stands over 5ft tall when she is on her hind legs, but Helen, who was frightened on the Marshes, doesn’t believe the family pet is the monster she saw.

“That dog is so cute,” she said, when the Gazette showed her photos of Willow.

“I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a dog as it was far too big. And its build wasn’t dog-like.”

• What do you think? Is Willow the Beast of Hackney Marshes or does something else stalk the area? Write to us at hackneygazetteletters@archant.co.uk.

Latest Stories

The woman was attacked in a house in Hatherley Road, Walthamstow (Picture: Google Streetview)

A woman was stabbed in the neck and a six-year-old child injured after they were attacked at a house in Walthamstow in broad daylight.

Read more
07:49
Boris Johnson is angry his plans for a new airport in the Thames estuary have been rejected (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has reacted angrily to the decision by the Airports Commission to reject plans for ‘Boris Island’, accusing its author Sir Howard Davies of setting the debate on aviation expansion back by half a century.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:24
Jordan Dunn took an illegal free kick during the match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

A West Ham football fan today admitted running on to the pitch and taking a free kick during a Premier League match.

Read more

TOP Stories

The woman was attacked in a house in Hatherley Road, Walthamstow (Picture: Google Streetview)

A woman was stabbed in the neck and a six-year-old child injured after they were attacked at a house in Walthamstow in broad daylight.

07:49
Boris Johnson is angry his plans for a new airport in the Thames estuary have been rejected (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has reacted angrily to the decision by the Airports Commission to reject plans for ‘Boris Island’, accusing its author Sir Howard Davies of setting the debate on aviation expansion back by half a century.

Yesterday, 14:24
Jordan Dunn took an illegal free kick during the match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

A West Ham football fan today admitted running on to the pitch and taking a free kick during a Premier League match.

Promotions

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

London Bloggers

Yesterday, 17:16
Do you really need an explanation for that?! (Pic by Serena Marinelli)

If you’ve ever seen an Italian movie, you would probably know how important body language is in the culture.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Don't waste any of your harvest

If you are now inundated with ripe tomatoes, juicy green beans, berries and herbs, don’t leave them to go stringy or mouldy because the freezer can go a long way to making your crops last well into winter.

Friday, August 22, 2014
It turns out painting is the perfect thing to do in bars

I’m somewhat of a casual, lazy and very much amateur painter and after a busy day at work, the prospect of getting all my brushes, acrylics, water and other faff out is far from appealing.

Quizzes

Amy Winehouse's second album became a classic

Are you an Amy Winehouse superfan?

Read more
I'm only going to say this once: Stand. On. The. Right.

James Bond is Britain’s most famous secret agent, and the capital is its most famous city, so it makes sense that 007 would live and work here when he isn’t gallivanting around the world.

Read more
Can you find the animals hiding in London station names? (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

You may not realise it but there are animals hiding in stations across London? Play our quiz and see if you can you find them:

Read more