Warminster
 
 

   A cosy community confronted by the paranormal!

 

Warminster on the Map There are a number of U.K. UFO events which have gone down in UFO History and folklore both on a local and international basis. Of these the incidents which immediately spring to mind are “The Rendlesham Forest Incident”, RAF Cosford etc…    However, in the 1960s and early 1970s a whole series of UFO and paranormal incidents occurred in and around a quiet and comfortable, typically English country town located in Wiltshire lying just to the south west of Salisbury plain.

The town, of course, is Warminster and the UFO sightings and paranormal events which befuddled this town ultimately featured on the front pages of the national press.

Not only were UFOs observed in the Wiltshire skies but strange humanoid beings were seen in the local countryside, beings that disappeared when approached. The inhabitants of Warminster did not just to have to tolerate UFOs but strange ghostly apparitions.

 

Warminster a cosy country town

Warminster a cosy country town which was to be come the UFO Capital of the U.K.

The Thing!

"The Thing" - a UFO allegedly photographed by Gordon Faulkner.

The Thing!

 

On 29th August 1965, a young lad, Gordon Faulkner, claimed to have taken a photograph of a typical UFO which was dubbed the “Warminster Thing”. The photograph, according to Faulkner, was taken from the town centre and after appearing in the Warminster Journal was given much publicity in the national tabloid press. In 1994, A certain Roger Hooton came forward claiming that he and Faulkner had faked the picture with a button and a cotton reel.

Faulkner declared that the photo was genuine and was “mystified” as he had never known anyone named Hooton. Faulkner stood by his photograph.

 

Gordon Faulkner

Gordon Faulkner as he appeared in the National Press.
Certainly Faulkner’s mother, Olive Emm, maintained that her son was honest in his claims that he did actually photograph a UFO.

By mid 1965 the community of Warminster was so bedevilled by reports of the paranormal that local councillor Emlyn Rees held a public meeting in order to discuss recent events. There was some concern voiced over the potential threat to the public from “The Thing”. A number of sober members of the local community described their experiences of UFO sightings.

Following the national publicity that the area received many UFO enthusiasts and “skywatchers” made a pilgrimage to Warminster, searching the skies, hoping to see “The Thing”.

In fact, peering into the skies from hills around the town became what could be described as a “social event” in itself.

Paul Devereaux, a British researcher, noted that there were a number of tectonic faults beside Cley Hill, a major viewpoint for UFOs, and concluded that the phenomena were caused by “earth lights”.

 

Emlyn Reec
Emlyn Reec, 30 years later - a local councillor, he called a public meeting

 

The public meeting

The public meeting - filled to overflowing.

 

The public meeting  overflowing

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Eye Witnesses describe their sightings at public meeting.

skywatchers

Warminster attracted the attention of UFO enthusiasts and skywatchers.

 

UFO enthusiasts

Roger Hooton

 

Track 1. Roger Hooton claimed that the photograph of "the Thing" was faked.

Olive Emm

 

 Track 2. Gordon Faulkner's mother discusses the controversial photo.

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Warminster-the forgotten enigma. By Kevin Goodman.
 
 

The Following article is published here with the permission of Kevin Goodman. (Copyright: Kevin Goodman)

To quote Kevin:
“One thing is certain however. Despite all the new research into the phenomena in this quiet Wiltshire town all I can say is this: something strange did happen there. I know. For a time, I was part of it.”

 

 

Arthur Shuttlewood

Remember Warminster? Two words. Mention the name of this small Wiltshire town to any young ufologist, and the chances are you will receive a blank look. To us older students of British UFO research, you will get one or two reactions. Either a mocking smile and dismissive retort, or the subject of your question will elicit a dreamy expression, and then hopefully a long conversation will ensue, with memories of those long gone halcyon days and nights spent on the hills outside the town, scanning the skies for that elusive sighting, or any UFO activity.

  Warminster’s long and chequered UFO history began on Christmas Day, 1964. Mrs. Marjorie Bye was walking to early morning Mass at Christ Church when as Arthur Shuttlewood reports in The Warminster mystery: “The air was brazenly filled with a menacing sound. Sudden vibrations came overhead, chilling in intensity. They tore the quiet atmosphere to raucous rags and descended upon her savagely…shockwaves pounded at her head, neck and shoulders.” Other such “sonic attacks” which occurred at around same time in different locations around the town were later reported to Shuttlewood, who at the time was the features editor on the local weekly newspaper, The Warminster Journal.

  Within weeks, the floodgates opened, and the phenomenon was christened “The thing”, as no-one had actually seen anything that could be attributed to the cause. Most of the townsfolk had never heard of UFOs or “flying saucers” at the time. When interviewed by Shuttlewood, all the witnesses referred to the fledgling phenomena as “Things or “The thing”.

Cradle Hill

By June 1965, strange objects were beginning to be seen in the skies around the town. Shuttlewood amassed a sizable file on these sightings, and it was not until September, 1965, when he reported seeing a UFO from his home, that he became a believer in the enigma.

  This was a turning point, as Shuttlewood soon became the voice and champion of The Warminster mystery.

  The most iconic image of Warminster’s UFO activity is a photograph, taken by Gordon Faulkner in 1965. A typical “flying saucer” photograph 1, which is so enlarged that the grain of the emulsion is clearly visible was handed to the Daily Mirror and gained the town a vast amount of publicity when it was printed in the paper on September 10th, 1965.  Warminster would never be the same again.

 

Within weeks, thousands of people converged on the town to see this strange phenomenon for themselves. Such was the concern of the local populace that a public meeting was held in the town over the August bank holiday to allay fears that as the chairman of Warminster council, Elwyn Rees explained “The happenings were a danger to Earth”

  Shuttlewood was by now contemplating writing a book on the events in the town. Indeed, as the flyleaf to Brinsley Le Poer Trench’s then new book, The flying saucer story (Neville Spearman, 1966) attests. The Warminster sighting is advertised, and the book’s title was then changed to the more familiar The Warminster mystery prior to being published in 1967 by Neville Spearman.

    The BBC were quick to latch on to the events in the town. BBC west filmed a half hour documentary in 1966, entitled “Pie in the sky”. Of all the programmes made about the town, this is by far the most level and fair.

 

With all the attention that Shuttlewood was giving the enigma at this time, he was the centre of a possibly rather cruel hoax. Shuttlewood claimed, at the end of The Warminster mystery that he had been contacted by the occupants of the craft that were haunting the skies around the town. This statement has to be taken with a great bucket full of salt. These “contacts” initially began with telephone calls, without the then usual pips associated with the coin operated call boxes of the time. After a number of these calls, Shuttlewood was then visited by these at his home on the town’s Portway Road, by the then typical stereotyped manifestation of “Aliens”, namely blond, perfect Arians, reported by contactees such as Adamski and Allingham.

  The reports of these encounters form the appendix in the Warminster mystery. Further revelations from the “space people” were revealed in his second book, Warnings from flying friends, which was self published by Shuttlewood in 1968.

  Sightings, by the early 1970s, however, were beginning to decline  This was partly due to Warminster being old news, and the numbers of skywatchers on the hill dropped due in main to lack of nationwide publicity.

  A local UFO buff, Ken Rogers, began publishing his The Warminster UFO newsletter in August, 1971. Shuttlewood allied himself to Rogers, and it is interesting to note, that among Roger’s papers, which were donated to the town’s Dewey museum after his death in 1993, there are a number of original diagrams and reports of sightings in the museum’s files that found themselves in Shuttlewood’s third book on the phenomenon UFOs: Key to the new age, which was published by Regency Press in 1971. This book, of all the titles written by Shuttlewood, is probably the most contentious of all.

By now, Shuttlewood had become totally immersed in UFO lore, and some of his own personal theories seem, by today’s standards to be quite absurd. Ken Rogers had a book posthumously published by Coates and Parker (Warminster) entitled The Warminster triangle in 1994. Although the book is heavy in UFO content, it also delves into the legends and folklore of the area.

  The Warminster UFO newsletter continued publication as far as I am able to ascertain, well into 1973. Shuttlewood, it seems took a sabbatical from writing books for a number of years, but still took an active part in skywatches and the local UFO scene.

 

Cradle Hill Map

 

Star House, October 1978

In the same year, The Warminster mystery was published in paperback by Tandem books, an imprint of the Howard and Wyndham publishing group. It was this book, which sparked my own interest in the UFO phenomenon in Warminster, as until that point, the only books I had read were such titles as Brad Steiger’s Flying saucers are hostile and Strangers from the skies, and other American authors.

  Late in 1975, or early 1976 saw a new research centre open in the town. The Fountain Centre, located in Carlton Villa, Portway, was run by Peter and Jane Paget. Along with Jane’s mother, Mrs. Margaret Tedder-Shepperd, the Pagets renamed the property Star House with the intention of running not only a research facility in the town, but to offer bed and breakfast to skywatchers who were visiting the town.

  Another project they planned was the publication of The Fountain Journal, a bi-monthly magazine centred around the UFO sightings reported in and around the Warminster area. Shuttlewood joined the editorial team early on, before the publication of issue one.

    The Fountain Journal was by today’s standards of desktop publishing a quite primitive affair, with a hand drawn calligraphy title page, possibly designed by and drawn by Shuttlewood himself. Photographs were simply cut out from either books or other magazines and simply glued into place on the relevant page. Each page was typewritten, at first on a primitive manual typewriter until issue 9 when Paget managed to obtain a more up to date electric typewriter.

 

The first three issues, which were edited by the Pagets, Mrs. Tedder-Shepherd and Arthur Shuttlewood, contained much more information on the local UFO scene then later issues. This was in part due to the input of Shuttlewood himself, until he had, I believe a major disagreement with the Pagets, which was also allied to a protracted period of ill - health.

  Shuttlewood bowed out, and at around the same time, The flying saucerers, Shuttlewood’s fourth book, was published in paperback by Sphere books in November 1976.

 The Pagets then had another disagreement, this time with Mrs. Tedder-Shepherd, who was a co-owner of the centre and had a 50% stake in the property. Mrs. Tedder-Shepherd withdrew her support, leaving the Pagets to continue to run the centre with rapidly dwindling funds

  With the Fountain Centre now in danger of closing, due to mounting costs, Peter Paget appealed to members for money, the main appeal centring around an offer in the form of an extended subscription to the magazine, for a £100 life subscription. Unsurprisingly, no-one took up the offer.

  From issue four onwards, the content of the magazine became more New Age with articles on such subjects as Astrology becoming more prevalent. Possibly as filler material, Peter Paget began writing the M86 notebook, a rather poor attempt at a science fiction story.

 

Fountain Journal

 I myself, was a member of the Fountain Centre and stayed there on a number of occasions, and was involved with the Fountain Journal.

  The number of members re-subscribing to the Fountain Journal was by now dwindling, and it wasn’t until the British newspaper, The News of the World ran an article on the centre, that for a time at least, the magazine enjoyed a brief resurgence.

  Indeed, issue eight, sent to the original subscribers contained a supplement that Peter Paget produced for anyone who enquired about the centre via the newspaper article.  

  By now it was early 1977, and the Warminster phenomenon was very old news, and a new area of the UK was hitting the headlines. In south Wales there had been a rash of UFO sightings around the Havorfordwest area, which soon earned the locality the name of “The Dyfed Enigma” or “The Welsh triangle.

  It was during a stay at the Fountain Centre that I, along with a friend, Chris Butler had, to this day, the most unexplained sighting of my time spent in Warminster.
  It was late afternoon, and both of us had retired to the ’Green Room’ at the top of the house. Chris was lying on his bed, just gazing out of the window. I sat on my bed reading a book. I had mistakenly assumed that Chris had fallen asleep, but he suddenly jumped up off the bed and ran to the window crying out, “What the f**k's that?!”  I got off my bed, which was in a corner of the room, and joined Chris at the window.

 

   

Over Cop Heap, slowly traversing the sky from right to left, was a silvery cigar-shaped object. Chris fumbled for his binoculars, and through the lenses could see a uniform elliptical object. He passed the binoculars to me and I confirmed what Chris had seen. I handed the binoculars back to Chris and began to rummage through my camera equipment. This was too good an opportunity to miss. As I started to screw on a 400mm telephoto lens I left the room, running down the stairs into the back garden of Star House, where I knew there was a clothes-line post. As I was using a long, heavy lens I needed to avoid camera shake. I hadn’t brought a tripod to Warminster with me, but I could use the post in the garden to brace the camera.

  During the week I had changed the film in the camera from slide film to negative film. This film had a rating of 400ASA (one of the fastest film speeds commercially available at that time), so I was certain that I would be able to catch the object in mid-flight, without any blurring. I reached the clothes-line post, lined up the camera and carefully focused it. The object was in the viewfinder, with blue sky and high, light grey cloud in the background. I carefully took three exposures, manually winding the film on, refocusing each time, before the UFO went behind the trees on Arn Hill and out of my view. As I finished, Chris yelled from the bedroom window, binoculars still to his eyes “There are people on the hill, and they’re pointing at it too… it’s got to be a real object!”

  When we informed Peter Paget of the sighting and photographic evidence, he offered to get the film developed in the town, that day. For reasons too long to go into here, but which is well documented in my book, UFO Warminster: Cradle of contact, we were both suspicious of Peter Paget’s motives, thinking that he would use the images for his own gain. Both of us made the hard but sensible decision to wait until we got back home to get the film developed.

  The film was developed when we returned home, but when the film came back; there was blue sky, white clouds but no UFO!

  On the left bottom corner of the final print were the tips of the trees on Elm hill. To this day, this is perhaps the most striking evidence of the ‘Warminster Mystery’ we never had! I assure you I had the object dead centre in the viewfinder, and the exposure was obviously correct. Just what was it we had seen? I had, at the time, my own enlarger and printing equipment at home. Both Chris and I spent a good few hours looking at the negatives through the enlarger, at different settings, and at no time did we ever see any sign of that UFO. But we believe that what we saw was a real tangible object… How else could the golfers on the course above the house have seen it as well?

  Due to what I assume were mounting debts, Peter Paget planned to move from the large and costly “Star House” to a more manageable property, “Fountain House” in the summer of 1977. Sadly for the Pagets this was not to be. With mounting pressures on them, and the local UFO researchers becoming more hostile towards the Fountain Centre due in part to Paget’s lifestyle being funded by the dwindling members of the organisation, and Paget’s now isolationist stance due to the fact they had closed the doors on the centre to all but known visitors, and those within their inner circle. The publication of the “Fountain Journal” became more sporadic. The magazine became much thinner in both content and volume. Issue 11, dated only 1977, was the last to be published.

  Tucked away on page three was an apology for the late publication of that issue, and a further apology informing readers that issue 12 would be late too.

  Soon after the publication of issue 11, unsurprisingly, the Fountain Centre folded. There were a number of causes for this. The first, and major, was that another research group, UFO – Info, had set up in the town, towards which, I feel, there was a certain amount of hostility. It was as if the Pagets felt they had the exclusive right to be the official voice of the Warminster UFO scene. It also didn’t help matters when Arthur Shuttlewood allied himself with the new group, which, unlike the Fountain Centre, was run and staffed by unpaid volunteers. The second cause was that sightings in the area were, as I previously noted, by this time declining, and public awareness of the Warminster phenomena was rapidly dwindling.

  Shuttlewood had two further books published in the late 1970s. UFO magic in motion by Sphere books in 1978, and his final book, More UFOs over Warminster was published by Arthur Baker in 1979. it was after the publication of this book that Shuttlewood effectively retired from active UFO research.

  Two years later, Peter Paget’s first book, “The Welsh Triangle” was published in the UK by Granada books. Soon after this, a second book, UFO-UK, was published by New English Library. This book contains a lot of material that had originally appeared in his “Fountain Journal” a few years before.

  UFO-Info folded early in the 1980s. It is interesting to note that one member of the organisation, Ian Myzryglod, went on to form the Bristol based Probe, and now lives in the United States where he is a paranormal investigator.

  With the closure of UFO-Info, all research effectively ceased in the town. Warminster over the years began to fade from public memory.

  Arthur Shuttlewood died in Warminster in 1996. The passing away of the sole champion of the enigma went unreported by the major UFO publications. With his death, the last lingering memories slowly faded away.

 Now, in the new millennium, the people who were around during those heady days are either dead, unwilling to talk, or are sadly, even with the use of the internet untraceable.

  Warminster, however, refuses to die. Late in 2006, a Woman walking her dogs, outside a town some ten miles from the centre of Warminster saw, in the distance, towards Cley Hill, which is another notorious local UFO hotspot, a series of red lights, performing acrobatics. After a few minutes, they formed into what she claimed was a triangle shape and shot off a great speed. Despite the local Somerset press checking with the Armed forces, the police and the nearby Centre Parcs, no explanation was forthcoming.

  Authors Steve Dewey and John Ries published a book in 2005, entitled In alien heat, (Anomalist Books, 2005) a critical overview of the Warminster phenomena.

  Dr. David Clarke and Andy Roberts new book, the flying saucerers, (Heart of Albion Press, 2007) a social study into the history of Ufology here in the UK is due out in April 2007.

  My own book, UFO Warminster: Cradle of contact which chronicles my own experiences in Warminster has been privately published and is available from my website at www.ufo-warminster.co.uk

  One thing is certain however. Despite all the new research into the phenomena in this quiet Wiltshire town all I can say is this: something strange did happen there. I know. For a time, I was part of it.

 

 

RECOMMENDED READING:

 

Arthur Shuttlewood:

 

The Warminster Mystery, (Neville Spearman, 1967 & Tandem Books, 1973)

Warnings From Flying Friends, (Portway Press,1969)

UFOs – Key to the New Age, (Regency Press, 1971)

The Flying Saucerers, (Sphere, 1977)

UFO Magic in Motion, (Sphere, 1978)

More UFOs over Warminster, (Arthur Baker, 1979)

Ken Rogers: The Warminster Triangle, (Warminster: Coates and Parker, 1994)

 

Peter Paget: UFO – UK, (NEL, 1980)

The Welsh Triangle, (Granada, 1979)

 

Steve Dewey and John Ries: In Alien Heat, (Anomalist Books, 2005)

 

Kevin Goodman: UFO Warminster: Cradle of contact. (Swallowtail publications, 2007)

Warminster: The forgotten mystery. (Work in progress)

 

 

Visit Kevin’s website at www.ufo-warminster.co.uk where scanned copies of The Fountain Journal, Ken Rogers Warminster UFO Newsletter are now available for viewing on the site. The UFO-Info magazine newsletters will, in the fullness of time, be available for viewing on this site.

t has now been ascertained by Steve Dewey and John Ries in their book In Alien Heat that the Faulkner photograph is a fake. Faulkner, in his defence, still maintains after over 40 years it is genuine.