Steve Gamble – Director of Research
One of the projects the BUFORA Research team are starting work on is the Warminster Project. BUFORA has run studies in the past which have looked at the Warminster area, so why another Warminster project?
As I have stated previously (Gamble, 1988) it is important to study repeated phenomena. These repeated phenomena may take the form of a witness who has repeat experiences or similar experiences which occur to different witnesses at different times or locations where there are many reports over a period of time. The Warminster area fits into this last category. From the mid-1960s onward there have been many reports from the area around Warminster in Wiltshire. These have been widely discussed elsewhere (for example see Chapman (1969); Paget(1980); Rogers(1994) or Shuttlewood (1967)), so will not be discussed in detail here.
Nigel Stephenson (1966) states “Investigations at Warminster showed that the whole thing had been greatly exaggerated. Even so, there have been more interesting reports in the area of Warminster and Westbury than in other towns of similar population, though this might be accounted for by the excessive publicity to the Warminster “Thing” and the inhabitants’ knowledge of the great interest in it taken by the local paper’s news editor resulting in so many witnesses, as well as hoaxers, coming forward”. I think Nigel’s words are as true today as they were in 1966, there are a lot of reports from Warminster, some exaggerated, some hoaxes but also many intresting reports.
The main events at Warminster started on Christmas eve 1964. These started with a number of incidents of rattling roof tiles and other aerial noises. Recently Robert Bull researching reports from Cambridgeshire has come across a similar report from a similar time period, and I have found another case from the Norfolk area. A wide spectrum of UFOs were reported from Warminster during the rest of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s.
Some of the reports from the area are the result of military exercises which are conducted around Warminster. For example, Ken Phillips investigated a report from the 2nd August 1984 of strange multicoloured lights seen hanging in the sky at around 11pm. These were traced to most probably being due to paracute flares connected with an exercise.
The ‘Thing’ on Film
Perhaps the most famous of all the reports from the Warminster area is the photograph taken by Gordon Faulkner in 1965 of the so-called “Warminster Thing”. Faulkner said he was leaving the back door of his house at 8:30pm on 29th August 1965 to visit his mother’s house. He had a camera, which he was to give to his sister, with him and was able to take a single picture of the object. This picture was originally published in the local “Warminster Journal” in 1965, was published a few days later in the “Daily Mirror” and subsequently has been widely published in the UFOlogical literature, for example see Spencer (1992) or Rogers (1994).
Stephenson (1966) informs us that “The well-publicised photograph of a domed circular object in the daytime is the only report of this type of object over Warminster, but the rumour that it was a schoolgirl’s hat has not been verified”. This was also a theory subscribed to by Norman Oliver in his 1992 lecture mentioned below. So it can be seen that doubts have been expressed about Faulkner’s photo from early days.
Early in 1992 a gentleman called Roger Hooton came forward and said that he had been involved in faking the photograph (Spencer, 1992). Hooton had moved to Australia a couple of years after the photograph had been taken, but was suprised to find that it was still doing the rounds when he returned to the UK some 25 years later. Hooton said he had contacted John Spencer so he could put the record straight.
In 1994 (Spencer, 1994) John Spencer managed to track down Gordon Faulkner and arranged an interview. Faulkner maintained that he had not faked the photograph and furthermore he did not know Hooton. So the story became even more curious! Over the past year I have been in contact with Stephen Dewey who has recently published the results of his findings on the Faulkner photograph (Dewey, 1995). Dewey tells us that the photograph was faked by Faulkner with help from Bill Newton. He specifically points out that in the story he was told by his informant no mention is made of the involvment of Hooton. In August 1995 Dewey spoke to Faulkner who again denied it was a hoax.
So once more doubt is focussed on the Faulkner photograph. But there are very many more reports from the Warminster area which should not be overshadowed by the truth or otherwise of Gordon Faulkner’s picture. As Norman Oliver said in his lecture at the BUFORA 30th Anniversary Conference in September 1992 “A lot of nonsense has been talked about Warminster, an awful lot of nonsense has been reported from there, but one of the biggest pieces of nonsense is that one faked photograph disproves the whole thing”.
The Warminster project will clearly have overlaps with other parts of the BUFORA Research programme. Some of the reports previously collected have aspects which are similar to poltergeist phenomena. There are also reports of vehicle interference and of strange Ball-Of-Light (BOL) UFOs. If we can establish teams to undertake sky observation, then the Warminster area could be a prime target. In the early 1970s the Bedford UFO Society (later renamed the Extra-Terrestrial Society) maintained an instrumented observation station near Warminster. BUFORA is working on establishing instrumented observation stations. Given the number of reports in the past from the Warminster area, this might be a productive place to establish such a instrumented station.
Yet again I have completely blown the word limit the editor gave me, so I better leave things there. If you feel you can contribute to this, or any other, BUFORA project please contact me.
Chapman, R. (1969) “Why Warminster?” in: Unidentified Flying Objects, Mayflower Books, London.
Dewey, S. (1995) “1965 Faulkner Photo Exposed”. Strange Magazine, Number 16, Fall 1995, pp 34-35.
Gamble, S. (1988) Journal of Transient Aerial Phenomena, Volume 5 Number 2, pp 33-35.
Paget, P. (1980) “UFO-UK“. New English Library, London.
Rogers, K. (1994) “The Warminster Triangle“. Coates & Parker, Warminster.
Shuttlewood, A. (1967) “The Warminster Mystery“. Neville Spearman Ltd., London.
Spencer, J. (1992) “The Warminster Hoax“. UFO Times, Number 17, Spring 1992, pp 6-9.
Spencer, J. (1994) “Think Again!”. UFO Times, Number 31, pp 3-5.
Stephenson, N. (1966) Annual Report on the Association’s Investigations and Research. BUFORA