Happy birthday to ‘The Thing’

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Warminster UFO mystery that transformed the small Wiltshire market town into a centre of pilgrimage for flying-saucerers.

From the Christmas of 1964-65, if local journalist Arthur Shuttlewood can be believed, the town was virtually under siege from ‘The Thing’, a terrifying airborne sound.

Journalist Arthur Shuttlewood's first book, 'The Warminster Mystery', published in 1967, put the little town on the map as the centre for UFO pilgrims

Journalist Arthur Shuttlewood’s first book, ‘The Warminster Mystery’, published in 1967, put the little town on the map as the centre for UFO pilgrims (credit: http://www.metaphysicalarticles.blogspot.com)

Soon afterwards visits from flying saucers and nocturnal lights became as regular as clockwork.

Shuttlewood’s updates for the weekly Warminster Journal became headline news in the Daily Mirror and other London tabloids.

From 1966 every weekend and bank holiday, UFO watchers camped out on Cradle Hill, which borders the British Army firing range on Salisbury Plain, to watch the space people fly past.

By the 1970s interest began to wane and when I visited the town in 2006 there was no mention of the ‘mystery’ in the town’s Tourist Information literature.

But times are a’changing thanks to Warminster stalwart Kevin Goodman, who revived the annual August bank holiday skywatch tradition in 2007.

As a teenager Kevin made regular trips from his home in the West Midlands to skywatch at Warminster and had a number of extraordinary experiences there.

Kevin now runs  – with Steve Dewey – the Warminster UFO website, dedicated to the legend, that is linked to a Facebook page.

In February this year, when BBC2’s peripatetic antiques show Flog It! visited Warminster, presenter Paul Martin made the town’s UFO legend the centrepiece of the show.

Kevin will speak about ‘the Warminster Mystery at 50’ at the 2014 BUFORA Conference, to be held in the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms ,on Saturday, 30 August. Tickets can be booked here.

Afterwards pilgrims can join a coach trip to Cradle Hill and take a trip back to the good old days of UFO-ology.

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