FIFTY years ago this month, something appeared in a Welford field that caused an international sensation.
A metallic, saucer-shaped craft was emitting a low beeping sound when it was discovered by locals who, in turn, alerted authorities.
Soon the public was being kept at bay as scientists, police and Ministry of Defence officials descended on the village.
The mystery deepened as reports began to come in of five more identical objects being found.
All were sited in a straight line from east to west – Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey; Bromley in south London; Ascot in Berkshire; the village of Welford; Chippenham in Wiltshire and Clevedon in Somerset.
The Welford saucer was found on September 4, 1967, in a cornfield 25 yards from the road near Tullock Farm, by auxiliary postwoman Eva Rood on her morning deliveries.
She told husband Fred, who rang Hungerford police.
Police officer James Hennessey was sent out to investigate and said later: “I went out into the middle of the field and, lo and behold, there was this thing... silver-coloured, metallic-looking, with a dome on top and making a bleeping sound.”
Soon, USAF personnel from RAF Welford arrived.
Mr Hennessy said: “They were a bit panicky. I called CID for help.”
Officers from Hungerford, Sulhamstead, Great Shefford and Lambourn were all drafted in.
Then, to everyone’s alarm, a mysterious green goo began oozing from the object, just as scientists from AWE Aldermaston arrived to join the fray.
The story was first covered by NWN reporter Peggy Cruse, who had been given the most bizarre tip-off of her career during routine police calls.
Soon afterwards, news flashed round the world of the apparent alien invasion.
It was only later that the truth emerged – it was all an elaborate hoax dreamed up and executed by science fiction-obsessed apprentices at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, Hampshire.
The saucers were moulded from fibreglass and painted with artist’s graphite to give them an eerie sheen.
The ‘alien goo’ was coloured, fermenting bread dough and the beeping – which only sounded when the object was touched – was operated by an ingenious motion-detecting device.
The nation relaxed.
But by the time the pranksters had come forward, the ‘Welford saucer’ and its cousins had earned their place in UFO history.