The Phoenix

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Cumberland Spaceman

Over the years, there have been many strange pictures of UFOs and aliens to garner media attention. Most turn out to be hoaxes. Then there are those pictures that can't be so easily dismissed. One of those pictures is of "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 ha
d 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.

James Templeton


Blogger grrrbear said...

You know, this could all be explained if they would just look to see if there was a little mini-spaceman living between the lens and the film...

All right, he'd have to be two dimentional, front-lit, missing his lower half, and have a *great* sense of perspective to align himself so well with the top of her head for that to *really* explain the picture. But it's no worse than 98% of the other explanations I'm certain.

3/19/2007 1:58 PM  
Blogger mad said...

Maybe it's me, but you would think the photographer would've noticed something (or someone) sticking out the top of his daughter's head.

3/19/2007 3:26 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Funny--I had a spaceman toy/doll as a little kid that looked VERY much like the "spaceman" thaat seems to be sticking up at an odd angle for such a figure ...

-- david

3/19/2007 3:44 PM  
Blogger delmer said...

My sister had a Spaceman Hair Barrett that looked a lot like that one.

No, wait. It was a rose hair barrett. Sorry about that.

3/19/2007 8:28 PM  
Blogger Carae said...

ahh... it's good to be back and reading the freaky stories you post!!!

I want a spaceman to show up in one of MY pictures...

3/19/2007 11:27 PM  
Blogger goldennib said...

Based on the line of the ground he seems very, very tall to be sticking up over her head like that.

3/20/2007 4:22 AM  
Blogger goldennib said...

And it looks like something from Monty Python.

3/20/2007 4:24 AM  
Blogger Grafs said...

I think that's a pretty cheesy looking spaceman. It looks like an action figure. Besides, if I were a spaceman, I think I could find better things to do than to sneak into family portraits.

3/20/2007 5:42 AM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

My first thought was of the scene in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where they shrink that little boy down and project him across the room and he turns really tiny...remember that? I think his name was Mike.

Could that be Mike? You know, they never really said what happened to him after the oompa-loompas and his mom took him away.

Just food for thought.....;)

3/20/2007 6:57 AM  
Blogger Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

The human eys works like an SLR camera, in that it takes individual pictures and then the brain "fills in" in the gaps between the pictures so that what we see appears like a smooth, fluid movie.

So it's not crazy to think we miss things, or that beings with knowledge of how our eyes works can manipulate that science to walk freely among us.

I hope some of these mysteries get's solved in my lifetime. I hate not knowing.

3/20/2007 7:18 AM  
Blogger goddess said...

oh, that's good and creapy. Even creapier because I'm sitting here in the dark reading it. Strangely fun and always interesting.

3/20/2007 7:27 AM  
Blogger BrianAlt said...

Nice hat!

3/20/2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger KC said...

It's like a spaceman tiara! A little lopsided, but still an interesting "look".

3/20/2007 11:31 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Looks like a ballon to me, but then I agree, surely he would have noticed a man stickinh out of his daughters head as he took the photo....

3/20/2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

They could have done a better job on the daughters haircut as well...

3/20/2007 2:21 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I think that its her Dad taking a leak after drink so many bitters while on the outing

3/20/2007 5:00 PM  
Blogger goldennib said...

Did you see the space ship over Chicago last night?

3/20/2007 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Sir Jorge said...

I want to believe, but I know better, or do I?

It looks crazy, and easily mistakable for something "space" like.

I'm torn between belief and disbelief, even after reading.

3/21/2007 1:07 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

I think it's Faeries. It IS in England (and you know how they are with their ghosts and faeries). I'm sure with all the space research going on it just became an instant fashion rage... the Burgh Marsh Faeries sporting Spaceman Chic.

3/21/2007 1:28 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Maybe his little girl is an alien in disguise and that spaceman just popped out of her head by accident. Usually, the spaceman only comes out at night.

Interesting story, Phoenix.

3/21/2007 2:02 PM  
Blogger DaBich said...

Well, let me just say this...

for us to believe we are the only living "people" in the universe shows just how full of ourselves we are...

Who knows what it might be in that pic???

3/21/2007 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Oooo, weird. He looks like a beekeeper!

3/21/2007 11:10 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I do!!

3/22/2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Eric Spitznagel said...

To me, it looks less like a spaceman and more like a dude in a hazmat suit. Is it possible his daughter's head was delivered a letter filled with Anthrax?

3/22/2007 11:58 AM  
Blogger Mr. Shife said...

That is a pretty cool story. I am waiting to hear your thoughts about France letting the public view its UFO files.

3/23/2007 1:38 PM  
Blogger Godwhacker said...


3/25/2007 12:24 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

I might be more excited if it was an alien , but there's nothing to exciting about a dude in a spacesuit...

3/27/2007 1:54 PM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

I am just amazed that even spacemen are caught on film scratching their ass.

3/27/2007 9:08 PM  
Blogger Phats said...

I don't believe in UFO's or Aliens, but if for some reason I get abducted I will mention your blog

3/28/2007 12:08 AM  
Blogger Perplexio said...

Wow, I didn't realize Uncle Bob was related to those people too. That crazy guy is ALWAYS showing up in family photos. We've tried to talk him out of wearing his space suit to no avail. Oh well...

3/28/2007 4:12 PM  
Blogger Lx said...

balloons, balloons.
always blame the weather balloons.

3/29/2007 7:08 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

I see space ppl? :)


3/30/2007 12:45 AM  
Anonymous quilly said...

There is something, "Monster from the Black LAgoonish," abiut this pic. I'm sure it looked high tech at the time, but now, not so much.

3/30/2007 1:05 PM  
Anonymous kim said...

Cool story!! I like the idea of phantom Plan 9 looking spacemen popping up in pictures.

3/30/2007 6:11 PM  

Hi...I hope that life has been going well for you. :-)

3/30/2007 11:48 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

You're starting to worry me ... assure us all is OK.

-- david

4/01/2007 7:11 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I beginning to think an alien may have snatched you away for some probing and what not.

4/03/2007 6:20 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Blue Streak would be a good name for a restaurant.

oabmtvi<-- oddly enough, a good name for a music video channel on the planet Oab

4/04/2007 1:46 AM  
Blogger michelle said...



4/12/2007 3:09 AM  
Blogger Gordon said...

I think I solved the mystery of this photograph. See my video here:

1/03/2010 3:05 PM  
Blogger Gordon said...

Sorry, that link didn't work.
Try this:

Analysing the Cumberland Spaceman photograph.

Its an interesting case, but it does seem to be explicable.

1/04/2010 3:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought it looked like a spaceman too until I really had a good look at it and realised it is a picture of a woman with her back to the camera. She has one of those little white feathery hats on which goes over the top of her head which were fashionable in those days and a french pleat hairstyle (also popular back then). She also has a small scarf round her neck and a tight sweater on. It's no spaceman.

6/23/2010 12:24 AM  

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