The “Real” Solway Firth Spaceman

Jim Annie Templeton camera spaceman photo

Jim Templeton taken around 1964

It’s now 50 years since a local Cumbrian man takes one of the most extraordinary and debated UFO photo’s, of the 20th century.

It was May 23, 1964 and a local Cumbrian (UK) firefighter called – Jim Templeton, took his wife Annie & daughters Elizabeth & Francis to Burgh Marsh, an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Solway Coast – approximately eight miles west of Carlisle, Cumbria (UK).

Before Jim Templeton set foot there, Burgh Marsh’s claim to fame was as the site where King Edward I died in 1307 of dysentery on his way back from Scotland.

Jim, who was an amateur photographer wanted to take some photos, especially of their daughter Elizabeth’s new dress, with his Kodak SLR – a KODAcolour X set – 100th of a second at f16. Elizabeth posed for him sitting on the grass what was to become one of the most remarkable photographic mysteries – ever.

As best as I have been able to pin down from interviews with Jim, this is very near to the location of the photo on the Marsh. Strangely enough, the location of the photo is marked out by a huge concrete arrow – which the bomber crews used in practice runs, during WWII :

burgh marsh concrete arrow

Google Streetview :

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A few days later, Jim sent the photos off to his local chemist, who in turn sent them to Kodak and whilst popping into the local Photographic depot (then on West Walls, Carlisle) to collect the developed snaps, the manager remarked to Jim that the photo’s had come out well, on the new Kodak gold film. Here is one of the three :

One of three cumberland spaceman photo's

But, the manager remarked, it was a pity about one of the photo’s spoiled by the “big man” behind her.

The famous Photo - click for bigger link

The famous Photo – click for bigger link

The figure appeared to be standing right behind Elizabeth and at an angle, how had Jim not noticed this bizarre tall figure encroaching his shot?

Jim and his family said that they never saw another person on the marsh (bar two old ladies sitting in a car on the road knitting, some distance away), and this mysterious figure wasn’t in any of the other photographs Jim had taken.

He also said that all of the family – wife Annie and daughter Francis had been standing to his rear and that only photographee – Elizabeth, had been in the shot.

He had snapped three pictures and only the middle photo of the three, had this figure on it. (The third of the 3 photos is not in the public domain!).

The story could have ended there but word soon got round and the photo made the local Cumberland Newspaper, which sold out and then the national papers followed.

The photo was also passed to the Carlisle police and sent on to Penrith, Cumbria – where photographic experts studied it and finally, Kodak – who checked the camera for faults and the original negative for signs of overexposure, faulty stock and/or tampering – they found nothing.

The photograph was then sent by the Cumberland News team ‘down under’ following a request and was published in Australian newspapers, soon after. The Australians contacted Jim directly and requested a copy of the negative of the picture.

Shortly after this, Jim reported that a Technician from the ‘Blue Streak missile project’ in Australia contacted him and told him they had spotted similar looking figures, wandering around the launchpad, during an aborted countdown on May 23rd (the same day).

bluestreak missile woomera australiaWoomera, Australia was the launch site of a big space project called Blue Streak. When the site was checked later by security staff, no person or tracks could be found, the operator who had reported the incident was then sent on leave.

This incident allegedly happened within hours of Jim snapping his photograph, on the otherside of the world.

Later, Jim learned that rockets used for the Blue Streak project were being manufactured at RAF Spadeadam, England about 25 miles east from Burgh Marsh on the English/Scottish border.

The picture and negative was exhaustively examined by Police and then Kodak’s experts for any signs of tampering or hoax but none could be found :


also offered a reward of free film for a year, to any person that could solve the mystery. As to how this figure got into the picture. To this day the reward lies unclaimed.

This is where the legend of the Cumberland Spaceman was born.

Recent recreation of the Cumberland Spaceman PhotoStranger still, Jim was then visited by two dark suited strangers. Who claimed to be Government officials and who drove a dark Jaguar car. They pulled Jim out of his day job at the Carlisle fire station, to direct them to the site where the photo was taken.

They asked Jim to show the exact spot of the photograph and quizzed Jim about weather conditions, had he seen any local people or animal activity on the day? Jim pointed out that the animals on the Marsh which usually roamed its entirety, stayed huddled down one end on the day.

The men then asked Jim if he had seen an Alien, to which Jim replied he hadn’t actually seen anything whilst taking the photo.

It was at that point the men retreated to their car and promptly drove off and leaving Jim with a 5 mile hike back to the firestation.

Australian reporters wanted to view the blue streak film taken on the May 23rd, but were told it was missing from the archive where it was usually stored.

About a year later, Jim and Elizabeth returned to the marsh and took more photo’s. They sent them off as normal but the negatives were returned unprocessed with a letter advising as such. For a while, Jim said he had to send photos to be processed under the name of his neighbours.

The only known fact in this case, is the photo has never been conclusively proved to be fake and Jim has never attempted to make any serious money from it.


My Spaceman produced vids :

Now read my own investigations into the mysterious Spaceman incident, below :

Investigations Into The Solway Spaceman Photo– My Own Investigation
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

Additional Reading
Also of interest taken from the News and Star website 13 August 2011

An MoD official recently responded to the paper in regard to MOD Files on the incident, that the Templeton photo was of no interest to the MoD and added: “With regard to a photograph taken of a space-suited figure by Mr James Templeton of Carlisle in 1964, if such information has survived, it will now be open for viewing at The National Archives.”

MOD files were routinely destroyed after five years until 1967 when they were generally preserved for the National Archives. A few have survived before 1967 and these together with records up to 1977 are now available for public viewing.

The National Archives can be contacted at Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU or telephone, 020 8876 3444.

The National Archives also have a website giving information about the records they hold and how to access them at > The Ministry of Defence

Freedom of Information website also contains some released information on UFOs. This can be accessed via the internet at: