Investigations into the Solway Spaceman Photo

Solway / Cumberland Spaceman

It is now 50 years, since the Cumberland / Solway Spaceman photo came into the public domain. Can the photo and location offer us any clues to the photo true origin?

Is it an inter-dimensional being which also turned up at Woomera in Australia doing the Blue Streak missile tests? Or was it a passer by who was un-noticed by Jim Templeton during his photo session with his daughter?

Now, when looking at the Spaceman incident I only take the Photo into account. The Woomera incident although a nice mysterious “side garnish” to this story, does not – on concrete research, yield much co-oborating evidence, as per my new article The Blue Streak Incident

So, its back to the photo. I have no reason to dis-believe what Jim says but it is possible whilst someone is lining up a photo opportunity for a person to walk behind the shot and be unseen by the photographer. The photographer’s sole focus is getting the correct shot so they could easily miss this intrusion. We have all taken a photo with a new fangled digital camera or a mobile phone, only to curse our luck afterward, as it contains a random Joe Publc walking past gawking in the picture.

The thing that makes this scenario less plausible however is that Burgh marsh is quite a lonely place so somebody walking or running past your carefully setup camera moment would surely be noticed, right?

Jim has always maintained that they (Jim, Elizabeth and a third figure thought to be Jim’s wife Annie!), were alone on Burgh Marsh (apart from 2 old ladies sitting in a car at the roadside, knitting).

There are many articles and message board postings out there, some fall on the side of a ghostly inter-dimensional being/a refractive image beamed from Chapelcross Power Station – via a weather phenomena / or a physical worldly object, person or animal.

cumberland spaceman seagull theorySo the only sure thing is what is contained within the photo as witness testimony is inconclusive – at best. That said though, there exists another problem with studying the photo at length. Proponents of various theories have made the photo fit their scenario as I am about to do. A classic example of this is the ‘startled seagull’ theory.

‘Startled Seagull’ Theory

This theory ticks the box for there being no person on the Marsh at the time of the photo and also the fact the “being” appears only on the middle photo of three. But a quick look at the photo pretty much discounts the seagull theory on two counts.

1) The figure is definitely human shaped, you can clearly see the head, shoulder blade and tricep area of the arm as it tapers to the waist. (See below regarding the shoulder).

2) If a seagull was taking off past the camera then surely the figure wouldn’t be so clearly photographed. This is 1964 and camera shutter speed technology is not quite picking up crystal still images of soaring birds surely? (I am no camera expert though!).

3) A person scooting past the background could be missed, even on Burgh Marsh right? A seagull flying right at your daughter’s head and at the camera whilst you take a picture would be noticed, surely!

cumberland spaceman negative

Temporal Distortion / Alien / Weather Phenomena / Future Shock

Nobody can truly discount the otherworldly theory with any real certainty.

There are many things out there we still don’t understand, regardless of human arrogance. Whether it be the search for the Higgs-Boson particle in the Hadron collider, or the continued search for other forms of life. If the spaceman really is an alien passing through or a future human on a history project can anyone really discount this entirely? We don’t know so we can’t say.

On the subject of weather phenomema, a theory which was popularized by UFO hunter Jenny Randles, is the ‘refractive distortion’ of a Chapel Cross Worker, beamed over the Solway channel from the Scottish Nuclear site. Caused by some unknown weather/time/window phenomena.

But still, it comes back to the photo, without any knowledge of otherworldly goings on we have to rely soley on the evidence we have.

The photo

solway spaceman close up shoulderbodybuilders shoulderIf you look at the being, it appears to be a tall muscular being, facing the camera with its arm folded to its waist. When in reality a closer examination shows that the arm is actually the back of the arm and the pronounced pectoral muscle is infact a shoulder blade. A quick glance at a body builders pronounced top half clarifies this.

solway spaceman head close upAlso, you can make out that the right side of the face is in shadow compared to the left side so the light is reflecting off of a real object. This can be clarified by looking at the way the shadow falls over the girls face, it pretty much matches exactly. Now I’m not totally discounting the other worldly theory but it would seem strange for a being to zip in and out and become so tangible that the light bounces from you but nobody sees you. (Predator technology aside).

Another element that makes the spaceman seem strange is the muscular looking torso but if you take the torso and draw darker lines around the features you can make out that the torso is actually quite bulky. The lines draw the eye and clarifies the shape better.

solway spaceman shaded

(Left) is nothing more than a MS Paint job, however it does create a wholly different being. You can see what looks like a diagonal line down the torso which after drawing a few lines over looks like a scarf or shawl around the shoulders. Also, the “visor” of the spaceman on closer inspection looks alot like hair due to the way the light plays off of it shaded by the same shadow as the little girl. The headpiece seems to look more like a flatcap.

The Location

I suppose the key to explaining the other-worldly aspect of the photo is the location itself.

Burgh Marsh is a salt marsh flat which projects from the land out into the sea. The tide retreats for most of the day but returns twice a day to fill up the channels which snake through the marshes landscape. The marsh is almost exclusively flat from the where the land leaves the road down to where it washes out into the firth.

burgh marsh solway

However, having recently visited the marsh – there exists a “lip” in the land more than a meter high, which runs almost the full length of the marsh. It is a flood defence built in the 1850’s to protect the villages of Port Carlisle and Solway-On-Bowness and reclaim a portion of the marshes for Agricultural activity. For the rest of this article, I will be referring to it as the “lip”.

burgh marsh solway 2

Both of these ariel shots were taken from the Visit website.

Recent recreation of the Cumberland Spaceman PhotoRecently the Dumfries Courier (Scottish local paper) ran a story on the 40th Anniversary of the Spaceman Photo and Jim Templeton. The article offered little extra info on the story, but it did feature a picture of Jim T and Elizabeth out on the Marsh in the exact location and recreating the Spaceman photo (kneeling) holding the SLR Camera and an original copy of the framed Spaceman photo.

If you look in the background you can see the lip quite prominently.

burgh marsh flood defence

Now, if this is the exact location on the Marsh that the original picture was taken (and I suspect the point of getting Jim and Liz out there was to find it for the photo). Also, the angles aren’t quite the same, the original Spaceman photo was taken from a slightly lower angle as Liz was much smaller) then the background in both of the photo’s is also showing the “lip”.

The Lip has been there since the 1850’s in its present condition but actually dates back to Roman Times in one form or another.

At this stage, we are presuming the Spaceman is a humanoid figure of between 5 -6 foot tall placed against the more recent photo, so taking the lip size from the Anniversary photo and doing abit more MS painting, suddenly the Spaceman looks average sized, standing about 20 feet behind the girl.

cumb spaceman superimposed

The point of all of this is, I believe the Spaceman is a real “average” sized person (heightwise) in the back of the photo. The one thing that always foxed me about this picture (until I visited the Marsh recently) was the angle of the figure and the estimated height behind the girl (over 7 foot tall). But, if the figure is standing on a meter high flood defence, suddenly they become more average sized. The angle of the figure is consistent with the taper of the lip. This can be confirmed from the Anniversary photo’s angle and the original Spaceman Photo.

The Wife ‘Angle’

A more recent explanation for the photo which is doing the rounds on the net and also features on the page. (which someone kindly emailed me a link to a few weeks back) is that the figure was infact Jim’s wife – Annie, “photobombing” (or invading the back of shot advertently/inadvertantly).

Proponents of this theory point to the other picture doing the rounds of Elizabeth on the marsh. (The third image is not public). The picture is allegedly Jim’s wife – Annie to the right of the picture slightly offshot, in a light coloured dress :

One of three cumberland spaceman photo'sJim Annie Templeton camera spaceman photo

Whether the figure in the back of the picture is Jim’s wife Annie, its hard to say. I myself am not convinced this is Annie due to the slightness of Annie in other photo’s especially across the shoulders, the Spaceman in the photo looks larger in size.

Still, I’ll accept its a damn sight more plausible an explanation than the “seagull theory”. Indeed, Penrith Police Sergeant Bruce Prickett who investigated the photo originally concluded it was “likely a woman in a white dress, with collar upturned turning around”.



The photo is itself is genuine, no question. The negative and photo show no signs of tampering and were confirmed by police photographic experts as being the real deal. So it leads me to the fact a very real object was photographed on the day, behind Elizabeth.

Gordon Hudson, a man who knows a thing or two about the technicalities of the SLR Camera used, concluded the following “With an SLR camera, especially older more basic ones, the viewfinder can be quite dark and obscured. Plus you can only see whats in the frame, not anything about to come into the shot (unlike a rangefinder or viewfinder camera). This is part of the explanation for why the photographer didn’t see anyone.”

You can find more on this on his excellent page here.

So either Jim really didn’t witness the trespasser entering the back of his shot due to the limitations of the camera viewfinder, or the whole thing was a setup or a joke by all parties and after the incident went global, have kept quiet to this very day.

Jim said there was no one else on the marsh that day, bar the two old ladies in the car back up on the road. So it wasn’t as if the Marsh was full of sun worshipper’s milling about.

One other thing which lends to a possible hoax is that if the above is correct, the point of standing on the lip at a pronounced height and a slightly odd angle, but cover most of the body behind the girls head would lend to creating a very freaky tall being but not betray much of the “Spaceman’s” torso to aid further identification.

Later on, Jim was at it again. This time he photographed another alleged UFO picture out on the marsh, which the Cumberland News ran as a story with the headline entitled “Another marsh mystery!”. By this point Jim is becoming something of a Cumbrian George Adamski with his uncanny ability to run into unexplained phenomena. Jim also had a run in with a “haunted tea-set”. [I am still trying to locate this other ‘Marsh mystery’ image and background to this story!]

Back to the Spaceman picture, either way – and I really can’t say without more evidence, I believe the figure is a very real human being and this at the end of day is the most logical conclusion, as much as I really want to believe in an otherworldly answer.

Dave Armitage

The “Real” Cumberland Spaceman – Background to the event
Spaceman/Woomera/Blue Streak incident – The Spaceman On The Launch Pad In Australia
The Men In Black Visit Jim Templeton – A look at the MIB incident
Jim Templeton – Bio/Obituary

My Spaceman produced vids :

The Location on Google Maps

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