The Cumberland Spaceman
It was May 23, 1964 when firefighter Jim Templeton took his wife and daughter to Burgh Marsh eight miles west of their home of Carlisle, Northern England. John was an amateur photographer, and wanted to take some photos of their daughter, Elizabeth. She posed sitting in the grass in the middle of this open, grassy area. They continued on their walk, and Jim took more pictures along the way.
A few days later, Jim got his photographs back from the chemist that developed them. The guy told Jim that it was a pity some idiot was walking around in one of the pictures of Elizabeth. It was a pity that it happened to be the best photograph of the lot. Jim looked at the picture. He was baffled. This is what he saw:
The figure behind Elizabeth looked like a tall guy in a spacesuit. What the hell? What was this spaceman doing jutting out of his daughter's head? Alright, so maybe that's not exactly what Jim was thinking. Jim and his family never saw another person on their walk, and this mysterious spaceman wasn't in any of the other photographs John had taken. He had taken three pictures in succession with his Kodak SLR of Elizabeth posing in her new dress. Only the middle one of the three had that spaceman in it.
The picture was exhaustively examined by Kodak for any tampering or signs of a hoax. They found none. They then offered a reward of free film for a year to any person that could solve the mystery as to how this spaceman got into Jim's picture. No one could figure it out, and the picture went worldwide.
As if the picture alone wasn't enough of a mystery, the area where the photograph was taken also adds to the mystique. The Burgh Marsh had been a hotbed of UFO activity, and people believed it had something to do with the atomic plant nearby. In fact, if you look closely, you can see the plant in the far right on the horizon.
Enter the Men in Black...As the photograph hit the newspapers all over the globe, Jim was visited by two strangers wearing dark suits. They pulled up to his house in a dark Jaguar and identified themselves as memebers of Her Majisty's Government. They requested Jim to take them to the site where the picture was taken. They asked Jim specific questions about the weather, any local animal activity, etc. on the day he had snapped the picture. They then tried to get Jim to admit that it was all a hoax. Jim refused to admit such a thing, so they left him there. It was a five mile hike back to the firehouse where Jim worked.
The plot thickens in Australia...Jim's weird photograph was in the newspapers in Australia soon thereafter. The newspapers in Australia requested a copy of the negative of the picture, as they had their own strange sighting that happened to coincide with the spaceman in Jim's photo.
Woomera, Australia was the launch site of a big space project called Blue Streak. When the reporters started digging, they found that on May 23, 1964 - a rocket launch countdown was aborted when security cameras caught two "men" in white spacesuits walking around the launch pad. This freaky incident happened within hours of Jim snapping his photograph on the otherside of the world on that same day.
Later, Jim learned that rockets used for the Blue Streak project were being manufactured in Spadeadam, England...which is only just a few miles from the Burgh Marsh.
Australian reporters wanted to view the film taken on May 23rd, but it seems out of all the canisters of film taken during the entire Blue Streak project, the one canister holding that footage is "missing."
Who or what is that spaceman behind little Elizabeth? You would think that Jim or his wife would notice a dude walking around back there in such a huge expanse of green hills. Jim was an avid photographer, and he wouldn't take such a great picture while such a figure was in the picture. What did the technicians in Australia see just minutes before launching an experimental rocket? Did they see the SAME spaceguys? It seems the Blue Streak project is the common denominator in both sightings. What does it all mean?
Below is a letter written by Jim Templeton published in the UK's Daily Mail in 2002:
As an amateur photographer on a day-trip with my family, I took the photograph on Burgh Marsh on May 23, 1964, using an SLR camera loaded with the new Kodacolor film which was processed by Kodak.
I took three pictures of my daughter Elizabeth in a similar pose - and was shocked when the middle picture came back from Kodak displaying what looks like a spaceman in the background.
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.
Over the four decades the photo has been in the public domain, I have had many thousands of letters from all over the world with various ideas or possibilities - most of which make little sense to me.
It should also be noted that I have received no payment for taking this picture.
The only suggestion that struck a chord with me was a letter from Woomera in Australia which came a month after the picture was shown around the world. The people there were keen to see a good colour copy of the photo, as they had stopped a countdown of the Blue Streak rocket within hours of my photo being taken. Apparently, two similar looking 'spacemen' had been seen close to the rocket.
Only later did I find out that part of the Blue Streak rocket was made and tested within sight of Burgh Marsh.