WEIRD NORFOLK: The flying saucer that visited Hainford and Motum Road

What did Mr Arthur see in the sky over Hainford on August 27 1971? Picture: iWtiness24/Brandon Lansd

What did Mr Arthur see in the sky over Hainford on August 27 1971? Picture: iWtiness24/Brandon Lansdale - Credit:

Something strange in the sky near Hainford: the day a bright orange flying saucer cast a spell of eerie silence over a field close to Cromer Road

What did Mr Arthur see in the sky over Hainford on August 27 1971? Picture: Google Maps

What did Mr Arthur see in the sky over Hainford on August 27 1971? Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Google Maps

On an everyday commute home, a Hainford man saw something he couldn’t explain: a glowing orange flying saucer which hovered and cast a net of silence over the land. And on the same night almost 50 years ago, a woman in Motum Road in Norwich saw exactly the same craft in North Earlham: had aliens paid a visit to Norfolk?

Regular readers will know the enormous debt of gratitude Weird Norfolk owes to Lantern, the newsletter of the now sadly-defunct Lowestoft-based Borderline Science Investigation Group. The group was, from 1971 into the early 1980s, the number one organisation when it came to investigating unexplained phenomena in East Anglia: this story is from Lantern and regards the strange encounter in Hainford and Norwich.

On August 27 1971, a Mr (Philip) Arthur was driving to his home in New Hainford along the Cromer New Road at around 9pm. He passed Norwich Airport and was around a mile from his house when he saw something strange hovering low over the fields: a glowing, bright orange domed disc. Lantern takes up the tale: “Curious, he stopped his car for a better look at which time the object started moving fairly rapidly towards him, at an angle.

“As it approached, the orange glow faded to be replaced by what the witness described as ‘five red flashing navigation lights’ around the base of the dome.

“At one point the object disappeared behind some trees and reappeared glowing orange again. The last the witness saw of the object was when it descended behind the trees again, its bright glow illuminating the area around.”

In all, the experience lasted for around 15 minutes, during which there was complete silence all around: “It was this eerie silence which impressed the witness as much as anything,” said Lantern. Mr Arthur reported what he had seen to the Eastern Evening News straight away: and while he was on the telephone, his mother reported seeing something strange rise from the trees at the bottom of their garden, around 400 yards away: it was a bright orange object. The BSIG investigated quickly. Mr Arthur was adamant he hadn’t seen an aircraft and, when the BSIG checked with Air Traffic Control at Norwich Airport, they were assured that no aircraft had been flying in the area at the time. The same reply came from the RAF and nearby American airbases.

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On September 12, members of the BSIG visited New Hainford to identify where the craft had appeared from close to Mr Arthur’s house: by the trees they found marshy ground and a small clearing where the long, reed-like grass “appeared slightly flattened”. The group took soil and vegetation samples and went on to find a series of similarly flattened areas – they also found that the bushes close to the area where the craft had been spotted had been covered in what looked like a grey-coloured dust. When the BSIG asked the witness to point to where the craft had been seen – Mr Arthur had been unable to accompany them on their site visit – they were excited when he circled the precise area they had investigated.

Lantern continues: “At this time everything seemed to be fitting together nicely, except for one thing. We could not rule out the possibility of the whole episode being a hoax because we had no independent witness to corroborate the story.

“However, during that following October we heard of a lady, Mrs Moore of Motum Road, Norwich, who had seen a strange object in the sky.

“An investigator visited her and collected the relevant information. She reported seeing a bright orange object descending slowly. It disappeared behind some trees in the skyline and the re-appeared flashing red.

“The object was too far away for Mrs Moore to make out any details. The date and time of this sighting corresponded exactly with that of the Hainford sighting and during the course of the interview it seemed more and more possible that in fact it was the same object.

“Mrs Moore lost sight of the object as it disappeared behind the houses on the skyline. A compass bearing was taken at this spot, which when it was plotted on a map of the area the line crossed almost exactly over the spot where Mr Arthur had seen the object. We had found our independent witness.”

Tests on the samples were inconclusive, other than to find this-worldly material but the BSIG were perplexed by the flattened grass which, in such a marshy area, didn’t look like it could have been made by a vehicle or animal.

“To date we have been unable to come up with any natural explanation of any sort for the flattened grass,” the group said.

In the Evening News of August 28 1971, Mr Arthur described what he saw: “A bright orange ball, moving across the sky, then up and down, its light changing to little red flickers and back to the orange.

“I could not hear any sound from the object. It was quite eerie.”

The reporter added that after taking a description: “The object was not particularly high, but appeared to move quite fast. In shape the light resembled a flying saucer.”

Stranger still, four years later, there was to be a second UFO sighting close to this very spot…another story for another day.

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