Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.

Elizabeth Templeton
Elizabeth Templeton

The “Cumberland Spaceman” or “Solway Firth Spaceman” is to me a very significant photograph. Much like the Cottingley Fairies, this photograph helped shape my interest in the paranormal and the pursuit of the truth. Unlike the Cottingley Fairies, the Solway Firth Spaceman photograph remains unexplained.

At first I was under the assumption that this was somehow a photograph of a spaceman doll. According to Jim Templeton, there was no such dolls or toys in the area. He did not see any obstructions or anyone else in the frame at the time of the picture, yet when the photographs were developed, it clearly shows a humanoid creature wearing what appears to be a space suit.

Many have claimed that this was just Elizabeth’s spaceman toy/doll that somehow was captured during the posed photograph. Others say that it’s just a complete hoax. Some accomplice dressed up in a very 1960s looking “space suit” and stood in the background. There’s even a video explaining how it could have been made:

The video above does explain the angle and distance of the “spaceman” but it does not explain who or what the spaceman is. So as far as debunking, it does not do the job.
Read the details on the case:

The Solway Firth Spaceman (also known as the Solway Spaceman and the Cumberland Spaceman) refers to a photograph taken in 1964 at Burgh Marsh, situated near Burgh by Sands and overlooking the Solway Firth in Cumbria, England. The image, which shows in the background a white figure in what the photographer Jim Templeton took for a space suit, remains unexplained. While it has been suggested by some that the figure is merely someone with their back to the camera, perhaps wearing a hat or helmet, Templeton insists that he did not see anyone present when the photograph was taken. The image has attracted interest from ufologists and has become a source of international fascination.

On 23 May 1964, Jim Templeton, a firefighter from Carlisle, Cumberland, (now part of Cumbria,) took three photographs of his five-year-old daughter while on a day trip to Burgh Marsh.] The only other people on the marshes that day were a couple of old ladies, and although cows and sheep would have normally been plentiful, they were huddled together at the far end of the marsh. In a letter to the Daily Mail in 2002, Templeton recalled, “I took three pictures of my daughter Elizabeth in a similar pose – and was shocked when the middle picture came back from Kodak displaying what looks like a spaceman in the background.” Templeton insists that he did not see the figure until after his photographs were developed, and analysts at Kodak confirmed that the photograph was genuine.

Elizabeth Templeton
Elizabeth Templeton


Templeton tells of a visit after the photograph was published by two men who, he says, claimed to be from Her Majesty’s Government, but refused to show their identification. He says that they referred to each other as numbers and asked him questions about the weather conditions on the day of the photograph and about the activities of local bird life. They drove Templeton to the marsh, where he says they tried to make him admit that he had in fact photographed a passer by — a suggestion that he strongly rejected. The men then became angry and drove away leaving him stranded on the marsh five miles from home.

Templeton spoke to the Daily Mail in December 2002. He said of the photograph: “I took the picture to the police in Carlisle who, after many doubts, examined it and stated there was nothing suspicious about it. The local newspaper, the Cumberland News, picked up the story and within hours it was all over the world. The picture is certainly not a fake, and I am as bemused as anyone else as to how this image appeared in the background. Over the four decades the photo has been in the public domain, I have had many thousands of letters from all over the world with various ideas or possibilities – most of which make little sense to me.” Templeton asserted that he had experienced no financial gain as a result of distributing the photograph, nor did he ever pursue it. In an interview recorded for BBC television, Templeton spoke candidly about the photograph, saying: “Who is he? Where’s he from? Those are the two questions we want answered.” The case was also covered in the BBC One series Secrets of the Paranormal, presented by Jenny Randles.

Australian connection

A Blue Streak launch at the Woomera Test Range, using Cumbrian-built weaponry, had been aborted because of two large men seen on the firing range. Technicians at the time did not know about Templeton’s sighting until it appeared on the front page of an Australian Newspaper, and they said that the figure in Cumbria looked the same as the ones they had seen on the monitor at Woomera. Templeton told the BBC that technicians considered the two figures to be “exactly the same type of man: same dress, same figure, same size” as in the original photograph.

Full source: Wikipedia

So what was the Solway Firth Spaceman?
A simple error in photography? a hoax? or an alien visitor?

What I also find interesting is the report of the blue streak launch. Last I heard, the MOD was supposedly launched an investigation to these claims. But due to the department shutting down this year, is any of this information going to be released? or will the cases that have been in “cold” status remain that way?

Have any of you done any research on this case? The information online is vague and contradictory of itself.

  • Rand in L.A.

    It’s a ridiculous photo. That’s all we needed…a little girl’s big head as an obstruction. It’s always something. But this one, at least, looks particularly fake, and staged. As for the Cottingley fairies, one of the sisters swore on her deathbed that 1 of those photos was actually real. But people are such liars, so I doubt it. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in fairies, knomes etc. I just am not sure if we are creating/projecting them, or if they exist autonomously/in their own right. For now, I think the former.

  • Glen

    I think that it’s very easy to fake the photograph: but on has to ask, if financial gain isn’t sought by it’s photographer, what’s the point?
    My immediate thoughts went to time travel, something along the lines of the Philadelphia Project maybe.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been fascinated with this case since I read about it in Jenny Randles book on MIBs.

  • BC

    I’ve been fascinated with this case since I read about it in Jenny Randles book on MIBs.

  • pinky

    Anybody else thinking Men In Black after hearing about the gentlemen that showed up asking about the photo? The bit about the sheep being huddled away from the main area bothers me, as well as the two strangers asking about the conditions that day, maybe it was an attempt at camouflage and they wanted to know why the guy showed up in a photo. It was taken about twenty years after the Philadelphia Experiment, otherwise I’d be tempted to make parallels there.

  • jbondo

    This one is quite a legend in UFOdom. As I’ve said in the past I think it is authentic but I also think it is very terrestrial in nature. I think the father was so focused on taking the picture that he just didn’t notice the guy in the background.

  • andrewkeeler

    It looks like someone in a Beekeepers getup… If I hadnt been told this was paranormal I woulda just assumed.. The last thing I would see is a spaceman though…

  • Gordon

    Look at the angle of the arm. It looks like someone with their back to the camera.

    If you look carefully at a good quality blow up of this image you can distinctly see a shadow on the torso which looks like it has been cast from the upper body, indicating shoulder blades or a torso. In a detailed version the black area on the head is actually more like cloth covering a head.

    I am convinced that what we are looking at here is a person standing on the rise behind the girl with his or her back to the camera wearing some sort of hooded jacket or top. They then walked out of shot and were not noticed.

    Where my idea falls down is that clothing like that was not common in 1964, but its definitely someone with their back to the camera. It is not a doll close to her head as the depth of field is not correct.

  • I have had a go at analysing the picture and I have even located a suitable period piece of clothing:

  • DrAllen77

    The mystery figure looks as if he is standing with his hand on his hip, looking out over the land, with what could be a cowl on his head. the kind medieval knights would wear under their helmets. With that thought, i did a wikipedia search on Burgh By Sands, near the location of this photo. I found out that, “Edward I, whilst on his way to war against the Scots, died on the marshes near Burgh.”

    I am certain, that this is not the ghost of Edward I or anybody else for that matter, because the figure is too solid to be anything spectral. But the thought was interesting.

    GhostTheory is a Damn Good Web Site, by the way.

  • MOD

    Its interesting because it looks as though the MOD did indeed visit jim about the photo now proven in the national archives recently released which contains a document relating to the incident and the apparent visit by government officials

    They also found a document talking of the Australian connection conserning the two figures dressed in white,of which the video which has been proven to exist has since gone missing,yet all other film of the rocket testing are accounted for except this incident

    Strange set of cirumstances we need that video

  • LP

    The picture is genuine and to know the site, you’d certainley know whether someone was even within 20 metres of you.

  • Keith Basterfield


    I have been researching a piece of the story about this photograph, i.e. a film taken at the launch of the Blue Streak rocket mentioned in the Templeton photo saga, at Woomera on 5 June 1964, showing a UFO.

    I have just posted the results of my research at:

    Please also take a look at the Australian blog at:

  • Sally

    Its like a real episode of Doctor Who. DOO WEE OOOOOH

  • Whipthorn

    To me it just looks like some bloke jogging by in the background. It’s likely that Jim was just snapping away and didn’t realize someone had entered the frame. Happens to my friends and I all the time.

    I will admit the head being a bit weird looking, but it just looks like out of focus hair under a white cap, not a space helmet to me.