Monstrous tale of rival Nessie centres ends in a £1.3m lawsuitDavid Ross,
Highland Correspondent 30 Jun 2010
It could fairly be described as a monster legal battle, with £1.3 million at stake, that has the story of
’s most famous mythical inhabitant at its heart.For decades two rival exhibition centres in the Loch Ness-side village of Drumnadrochit, have vied with each other to attract as many as they can of the estimated 500,000 who visit Loch Ness each year.Yesterday the resulting commercial rivalry led the two businesses to court. The owners of the Official Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, the Bremner family, are suing the Original Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre run by Donald and Gillian Skinner just 100 yards down the road. Robbie Bremner has raised a civil action against the Skinners, seeking more than £1.3m for lost profits since 1987.Bremner, whose family opened the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre 30 years ago, alleges that the Skinners have deliberately sought to confuse the public by using similar names and a similar colour scheme on promotion material to their company.He also alleges that the Skinners have spent more than 20 years deliberately trying to drive visitors away from his business, in a bid to get people through their own doors.Documents lodged at Inverness Sheriff Court detail the long-running dispute between the families. They claim that, in June last year, Donald Skinner defaced a sign erected by Scotland Transerv pointing to the Official Loch Ness Exhibition Centre. It is alleged he put a sticker on the sign pointing to his own centre a day after the sign was put up. Transerv is said to have removed the sticker on July 2, but later the same day another sticker appeared pointing again to the Skinners’ establishment.While Skinner has admitted stickers were on the sign, he has not admitted responsibility for doing so. He added that the sign was on his land. The documents also allege that when the Bremner family put the word Official to its name, in a bid to distinguish itself from the Skinners’ business, they then added the word Original.The Bremners also claim that a large number of visitors to their centre have expressed confusion and concern at the similarities between the two operations.The action describes the Skinners’ centre as being of an inferior nature because it does not offer the standard of facilities, service or hospitality as the Bremner’s five-star VisitScotland centre.The allegations are denied by the Skinners. When the case came up yesterday, Sheriff Ian Abercrombie adjourned matters until today to allow negotiations between the parties. And he left them both in no doubt as to his hopes of the outcome: “I would expect to see some written agreement,” he said. In Drumnadrochit, Judy Viggars, a civil servant from Stoke on Scotland , was a bit bemused by the over-provision of monster centres. She had just visited the official centre. “It was quite interesting. The other one looked a bit more commercialised, but you do wonder about having two so close together.”Antonia Kalogirou from Trent didn’t see a problem. “Why not have two?” But retired hotelier Ian Oxley didn’t have his problems to seek. He was with a party from Athens Scarborough and none of them seemed particularly impressed by the prospect of visiting either centre. “We are on a coach trip and we are all very disappointed because we thought we were going to go out on the loch in a boat. We looked into that (the official one) exhibition but were told there were too many people in for the show. Now we have two hours to kill here without much to do. We don’t want to be looking at exhibitions, we want to be out on the loch taking photographs.” Pensioners Ruth and Eric Dawson from Yorkshire, however, were well aware of the choice of centres. As they sat on a wall eating an early lunch, explained: “We came to Drumnadrochit a couple of years ago and visited this one (the original), so we decided to go to the other one this time. I think I like this one better, but might go back to the other one.” But one man from Dawson , who didn’t want to be named, was more even handed. “I wouldn’t waste my money going into either,” he said. Glasgow
NESS EXHIBITION CENTRE
The Bremner family bought the Drumnadrochit Hotel in 1964. Ronnie Bremner and designer Tony Harmsworth opened a small Loch Ness exhibition in the hotel’s old stables in 1980. After the hotel burned down in 1984, Bremner rebuilt a new one next door and turned the charred building into a major exhibition. His sons, Robbie and David, later took over the running of the centre and worked with naturalist Adrian Shine to upgrade the attraction before the new exhibition was opened by Sir Ranulph Fiennes in 1999. Ronnie Bremner died in 2001. In 2007, the centre achieved VisitScotland’s five-star grading, given in recognition of an exceptional visitor attraction. It has seven themed areas using lasers and special effects.
THE ORIGINAL LOCH
NESS MONSTER VISITOR CENTRE
Donald and Gillian Skinner own the Loch Ness Lodge Hotel and the Original Loch Ness Monster Visitor Centre. Skinner has lodged objections to applications for two developments on Loch Ness, including one by the Bremner family to build a car and coach park, toilets, picnic area, cafe, shop and jetties and moorings for private boats.
The second is by Jacobite Cruises for a new harbour and visitor centre. Skinner has said the “Tesco-type” projects could destroy the integrity of the area. The Skinners’ three-star attraction includes a visitor centre with photographs and information on sightings of the Nessie. There is a 150-seater cinema and the visitor centre has a gift and coffee shop. It is open 365 days a year
Oh dear. They do realise that no one owns Nessie don’t they ? lol. This is just one of the rival groups that are at loggerheads with each other around Loch
Ness. Spoils the enjoyment for most people who just want to go and see the Loch , potter about the various exhibitions and shops and spend some time looking at the Loch For the monster.