It wasn't my crocodile in the River ThamesBy Linda Fort
March 14, 2013
There is a new twist in the ‘tail’ of a crocodile seen in the River Thames.
The story began with Richard Smith, 64, from West Reading, who told us last month he was convinced he saw a four-foot long crocodile floating by the riverbank near Caversham Bridge while he was cycling past last summer.
When he turned back to look properly, the creature was gone.
Then Calcot man Michael Law offered the explanation it might have been a James Bond film prop which he said used to be kept on Fry’s Island.
But the latest news is that it could not have been an ‘escaped’ film prop because the 14-foot fibreglass and rubber crocodile which featured in Octopussy – not the croc scene in Live and Let Die as we suggested in an earlier story – is still safely installed on Fry’s Island.
The pretend croc’s owner Peter Wallace, 71, of Western Elms Avenue, used to run Caversham Boat Services and for many years worked in the film industry as a boat expert.
In the Bond film Octopussy, starring Roger Moore, there was a royal barge in one scene.
Mr Wallace said: “I was dressed in a sari on that barge, which was fitted with an outboard motor, and I was driving it.”
He also worked on Moonraker at Pinewood Studios.
Mr Wallace kept one of the prop crocs and still keeps it on Fry’s Island, where he rents a leisure plot. “It has a fibreglass body and it does float. The tail is made from rubber,” he said.
When the crocodile floated along for the filming, its tail moved from side to side in the water, he added.
Mr Wallace said if there had been a sighting of a crocodile in the River Thames it could not have been his croc because it was safely stored where it belonged.
So the mystery of the Thames crocodile remains unsolved.
Experts say a real crocodile could not survive a summer night, let alone a British winter, but others have suggested it might have been a caiman.
The Reading Post has been told of two sightings of geese and swans pulled under the water along this stretch of the Thames last summer.
If anyone else has seen the croc, or something that might provide an explanation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.