X-Files' return sparks interest in Cumbria UFO sightings
ENTHUSIASM for the extraterrestrial is predicted to rise with the return of agents Mulder and Scully to our screens this month. In honour of the cult classic, MOLLY LYNCH delves into the Evening Mail's very own X-Files.
ARE we alone in the universe?
It’s a question which has troubled the minds of mankind as far back as civilisation itself - from pop culture to scientific study. Even David Bowie asked if there was life on Mars.
And, judging from the Evening Mail archives, south Cumbria is no exception. Reports of extraterrestrial activity have been appearing on the pages since it first hit the newsstands.
This preoccupation with the paranormal looks set to be re-ignited with the return of cult classicafter an absence of nearly 15 years.
As the series bounces back onto television screens this month, the Evening Mail has delved into its library to find a wealth of weird and wonderful tales from an army of budding Mulder and Scullys.
What he saw made a lasting impression on the young lad, who would later become a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and inspired many pieces of artwork - from sketches to oil paintings - displayed to the public in 1963.
A news item advertising the exhibition at his parents’ home stated: “Stephen and his cousin spotted the unidentified flying objects on the moors.”
In 1996, Lancashire UFO Society spokesman Tim Matthews declared the area a hotspot for activity, citing a flurry of sightings and close encounters documented as far back as 1946.
Around that time, almost as regularly as Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny appeared on-screen to investigate unsolved cases, Cumbria’s own X-Files grew rapidly in size.
At the time, Mr Matthews told the Evening Mail a black, triangular craft was frequently spotted flying in Furness skies. The society also connected heightened activity to the presence of the nuclear power station Sellafield.
Word quickly spread among alien enthusiasts and led Jade Ashcroft, a field investigator for the US-based Mutual UFO Network, to set up a special investigation team for the Lake District and surrounding areas.
Her interest was sparked by an incident in Ennerdale, which she described to the Evening Mail in 2003: “It was a cloudy night. We were walking down the hill. There was an intermittent flashing - not like lightning - a kind of electricity.”
As well as reporting on sightings, the Evening Mail has tried its best to take the "U" out of UFOs.
Alarm spread throughout Barrow over the festive period of 2008, when a multitude of amber-coloured orbs were snapped in the night sky. Thanks to the birth of the smartphone, readers were able to grab photos of the strange sightings from their back gardens.
Barrow resident Colin Chatfield told the Evening Mail: “It was like an elongated light and remained in the sky for about an hour.”
Our reporting team tried to get answers from the Ministry of Defence. But days later, the mystery was solved when newlywed Andrea Hodgson called to say the glowing orbs were actually around 20 Chinese lanterns set off by guests at her wedding at Abbey House Hotel on December 27.
In that case, the truth really was out there. Just a little closer to home than we thought.