Looking back 10, 25, 50 years ago (published Gazette, January 29, 2015)

The Northumberland Gazette delves into the archives to remind readers of stories from the past.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The X-Files came to RAF Boulmer as strange flying objects were spotted hovering over the North Sea by a fighter pilot at the base. In a case that would intrigue TV’s Mulder and Scully, bright objects were spotted by RAF staff in 1977. They changed shape as they watched. So sensitive was the sighting that all records of it were hidden from public gaze and have only just been released under the Freedom of Information Act. It was stored in the Ministry of Defence’s ‘possible extra-terrestrial contact’ department, known only by the code name SF4. It is one of many sightings listed by the Government where credible witnesses, such as military staff and policemen, have reported UFOs. In July 1977, Flight Lt AM Wood reported the objects, saying the nearest was luminous, round and four to five times the size of a Whirlwind helicopter.

Friday, January 26, 1990

At least three homes in the Wooler area are being subjected to potentially dangerous levels of the radioactive gas radon. Mr Howard Jones, Berwick Borough Council’s environmental services manager, confirmed this week that the level of radon in three properties, the exact locations of which he could not reveal, is above the safety level set by the Government. Following a report from the National Radiological Protection Board, the Government agreed last week to halve the level of radon which qualifies a home for protection from 400 Becquerels (the unit used to measure radioactivity) per cubic metre a year to 200. And Mr Jones said that at least two houses are above the 200 limit with another one ‘well above’. “The Government advises there is a health risk and there could be a long-term health proiblem,” he said.

Friday, January 27, 1965

Indiscriminate shooting of wild birds in the Swansfield Park plantations at Alnwick is worrying local ornithologists who have seen young hooligans roaming the woods with catapults and airguns. Mr J Anderson, of Ash Street, Alnwick, who is a member of the British Trust for Ornithology and is carrying out a survey for the trust and for the Edward Grey Institute, Oxford, told the Northumberland Gazette that there had been several instances of birds being shot and nests and eggs destroyed. At about 1pm on Monday, Mr Anderson, who was accompanied by Mr WA Willcox, found a starling and a robin, both of which had been shot by an airgun. The starling appeared to have been shot through the eye and the robin’s wing was shattered. “The robin is a protected bird in any case,” he said.