Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Strange Case of the Solway Firth Spaceman

In 1964, a fireman named Jim Templeton took his daughter on an outing to Burgh Marsh in England.  According to Templeton, they were alone that day save for a handful of cows and sheep in a nearby pasture.  He took a few photos during the outing.  You might not recall the days before digital photography, but it used to be that you would to take your rolls of exposed film to a developer and wait for them to be returned.
Templeton did just that.  When he picked up the finished photos, the developer commented, "that would have been a real nice photo of Elizabeth if that man hadn't been standing back there."  Templeton didn't understand what that was supposed to mean until he saw the picture.

They saw no one else around in the entirety of the marsh, but the Templetons somehow caught the image of a man in what can only be described as a spacesuit, lurking about.  Needless to say, Jim Templeton was disturbed about the proximity of this hitherto unseen "spaceman" so close to his little girl.  He describes his next course of action: 
"I took the picture to the police in Carlisle who, after many doubts, examined it and stated there was nothing suspicious about it. The local newspaper, the Cumberland News, picked up the story and within hours it was all over the world. The picture is certainly not a fake, and I am as bemused as anyone else as to how this image appeared in the background."
After the publication of the photo in the newspaper, Templeton claims that two men showed up at his home.  He described them as being dressed in what is now known as the stereotypical "Men In Black" look.  They claimed to be agents of the British government but refused to produce any identification.  They referred to themselves only as "#9" and "#10."  They drove Templeton to the area of the marsh where the photograph was taken and asked him to describe the day to them, paying particular attention to weather conditions and "the behavior of area birds."  That done, the two MIBs insisted that Templeton merely photographed a passerby.  When Templeton continued to express disagreement with this assertion, the MIBs grew noticeably angry and drove off...leaving Templeton in the marsh with nothing but a bewildered feeling and a five mile walk home.
It gets weirder.  There was a factory in the area by the marsh.  This factory built, among other things, rockets and missiles.  One of the models manufactured there was the Blue Streak missile.  When this missile was going through tests at the Woomera Test Range in Australia, one launch had to be aborted when two strange figures appeared on the otherwise deserted firing range.   When technicians at the test site later saw Templeton's photograph in an Australian newspaper, they recognized the "spaceman" as having the exact same size and appearance as the suited figures they sighted on the test range.
To this day, the Templeton photo remains unexplained.
So what was it?  Who was it?  This was long before the time of Photoshop, so that lends credibility.  What's more, the Kodak Camera Company examined the film and pronounced it to be authentic not tampered with.  Could this all be an elaborate hoax on the part of Jim Templeton?  After all, we have only his word about there being no one else being at the marsh that day as well as for the visit from the MIBs.  But if it was his own concoction, what did he gain from it?  A bit of fame that was short-lived.  Any monetary gain he had was slim if not non-existent.  If anything, he probably had to endure more ridicule than benefit.  Then there is the added weirdness of the Australian missile test.
So what are we dealing with here?  A few UFO researchers were quick to claim this as an alien visitation.  Not so fast, say I.  The appearance of the spaceman flies in the face of the more common descriptions of aliens and that really is all we have to go on. 
I'm beginning to wonder if we're being visited by time travelers. 

Photo is from Wikipedia.

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  1. "the Templetons somehow caught the image of a man in what can only be described as a spacesuit" This is where UFO enthusiasm always falls down. Assertations that there is only one explanation for an image or an event and that that explanation is extra-terrestrial. Since we have no knowledge of any life outside of the terrestrial, assumptions are made about extra-terrestrial life and god-like technologies, knowledge, and wisdom. In other words, extra-terrestrials are a panacea for whatever we can't explain because they are super-beings who are capable of doing anything that might explain an unexplainable event or image.

    It is the same with ghosts for paranormal investigators or angels/demons for the devoted. Our minds like to explain things, even if the explanation has no shred of evidence.

    It is a blurry photo of which you can see less than half of the figure in question. The only thing I could say about the figure is that he appears to be wearing a white shirt.

    So, if you take a picture and a dude in a white shirt appears in the background, he is a spaceman?

  2. First of all, I am not the one who named the person a "spaceman." That is a colloquial term amongst Fortean researchers for the photo, really for lack of anything better to call it.
    And I do not believe the figure to be that of an alien.
    I do believe in critical examination, but I think that you are oversimplifying the image. To me, both a helmet and a visor are readily visible in the photograph. Could the Templetons have faked this? As I stated in the post, of course they could have. I just don't see any solid benefit to them.
    So was it "a dude in a white shirt" standing on the marsh that day? Seems to me you would notice somebody standing that close in front of you. To think otherwise is to stretch reason too far in the other direction, something like saying "it was swamp gas refracted through light from Venus bounced off of a weather balloon."
    I believe the photo to be genuine. Who or what the image in the background is...I have no idea.

  3. LOL!!
    Awesome, Ahab! I never thought of that!
    Looks just like him and it is in England.

  4. I don't know why anyone see's a visor when it's obviously his back turned towards the camera, which you can tell by his arms. I would think too that a visor would be shiny, and although it does appear he's wearing something on his head, it doesn't look to have any shiny parts. It actually looks to me as the same material as the top of head and suit, as you can see the shading on the girl matches his, by the sun being above the and to the left a bit.

  5. A visor need not be "shiny."
    But you do make a good point about the figure's back facing the camera. Looking at the figure's right arm (at least to our POV) more closely, that does indeed appear to be the case.

  6. You might enjoy my attempt at an explanation of the photo :
    Looking more at the Burgh Marsh environment which hints as to the photo's likely origin.

  7. Sorry. You're link appears dead.

    Seriously, though. I'm astounded at how much traffic and controversy this post has generated. Jeepers.
    Seems sort of a one-off case to me and not one worthy of serious attention.

  8. I don't care what it is; I just want in on this horrible beautiful fascination that sends shivers down your spine.

  9. its a golfer waying up his shot


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