Weird Norfolk: Abiding mystery of the county’s 1954 UFO sightings

Norfolk's 1954 UFO sightings. Picture: EDP LIBRARY

Norfolk's 1954 UFO sightings. Picture: EDP LIBRARY - Credit: Archant

1954 was the year that a series of Unidentified Flying Objects were seen in the skies above Norfolk, just a year after the term 'UFO' had been coined by the United States Air Force.

It was the year J RR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was published, Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and rationing came to an end. And 1954 was also the year that a series of Unidentified Flying Objects were seen in the skies above Norfolk, just a year after the term 'UFO' had been coined by the United States Air Force.

The first major sightings came in the first week of March, as winter's grip remained in the east with uncommonly low temperatures and snow flurries holding back the onset of spring and sending most people indoors to stay warm by the fire.

But on Alexandra Road in Norwich on March 1 at around 6.15pm, it wasn't snow that led Mr and Mrs Goreham to look up to the skies: the couple had spotted a 'very bright round ball' which moved across the sky, spinning and then forming into the shape of a triangle.

'It had a bright ray of light round the whole of it. It disappeared three times while we were watching it.'

At nearby Lawson Road, Mr and Mrs Cubitt watched a round object in the sky 'like a child's humming top with a white or light-coloured band and blue to green top... it seemed as if the top of the ball was opening like a domed lid.' Both couples sketched what they had seen. Edith Capes of Paston saw a similar craft at 7pm - her description was almost identical: the object looked like a top, coloured blue and green and with a band of light round the middle. Letters to the EDP on the subject led to two further reports, a sighting on March 4 in Lowestoft and another on March 8 in Norwich.

After one sighting in Aylsham in June of a large cigar-shaped craft which roared and was 'flaming red' at one end, the reports dried up. Until September.There were six witnesses in Overstrand, North Elmham, Trunch and Norwich who all reported seeing something strange in the sky between September 15 and 21.Mr Rayner of North Elmham reported seeing 'flying shapes, one resembling a cigar, the other a saucer. The round thing was as big as a Canberra bomber, the other was like a double-sized Flying Fortress fuselage'.

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A day later, a similar object was seen in Overstrand, four days after that there were two sightings, one in Overstrand and one in Trunch.

On September 21, 12-year-old Jasmine Morton reported seeing a green, egg-shaped object moving across Earlham Park. It was the last reported sighting until October 2, when in Costessey, a blue-white square craft was seen, silently revolving with several large and small lights.

There were then four sightings on October 21 from Blakeney to North Birmingham, Smallburgh and Rocklands when a UFO was spotted travelling at 'tremendous speed' across the night sky.

In North Burlingham, Keith Watts was cycling towards Norwich when he spotted something unusual: '...a vivid object streaked across the sky, leaving in its rear a brilliant glow for a brief moment.' The object sped towards Great Yarmouth.

At around the same time in Smallburgh, David Coley saw an object travelling at speed which looked like a comet with its 'glowing trail'.

Ten minutes later, in Rocklands, Ronald Lincoln saw a bright ball of light apparently drop 600 feet like a stone before stopping and speeding off.

The very last reported sighting came at the end of November in Norwich - as darkness fell at 4pm, an anonymous witness saw something unexplained: 'I got my boy's field glasses and continued watching it from upstairs. It was moving very slowly away towards the south - it was sausage-shaped and aluminium in colour.'

Did the witnesses see top secret military aircraft being tested over the skies of the county? Or did they catch sight of extraterrestrial visitors taking a closer look at the east of England?

The truth is out there.

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