Tom Pope, Constable Snowdon and Brian Grimshawe
Type of Spiritual Experience
Physical effects causing spiritual effects
A description of the experience
The case occurred in the early hours of 24th August 1914 and involved police sergeant Tom Pope and a constable called Snowden who were guarding railway property in Clitheroe.
At 2.50 a.m. they independently observed a light above Pendle Hill and Snowden said in his report that it was 'an airship, the shape of a sausage and that the light came from a platform underneath it. . . . There appeared to be white clouds about it, which in my opinion were smoke.
So we again have a strange object, claimed to be a Zeppelin, emerging from a smoky cloud on top of this centuries-old haunted hill. The Zeppelin was, of course, much in the news at that time because the First World War was about to erupt and the Germans were feared to possess such weapons by which they could invade and bomb the UK. These fears proved groundless, since German airship technology was not yet so advanced, so this thing was certainly not an airship. It was yet another of those ghostly lights within a swirling mist that was transformed by a human observer into some historically topical reality.
We might indeed envisage a sort of equation at work here:
energy phenomenon + cultural expectation = perception of an anomaly that fits the beliefs of the day
'Move forward half a century and we can safely predict what a smoky cloud with an energy glow inside it might look like to any modern witness who saw it rise over Pendle Hill. Instead of Germans in the skies our thoughts would surely turn to aliens. People these days would see a flying saucer.
In fact, we do not need to speculate on this fascinating question, we can actually know. In a truly astonishing case a near identical incident took place on the night of 9th March 1977 at virtually the same time of night (3.10 a.m.). And this one was indeed reported as a UFO! I was lucky enough to interview one of the two men who saw this thing, Brian Grimshawe.
He was with his colleague, Jeff Farmer, near the railway on the other side of Pendle Hill in the deserted town of Nelson. They had just dropped off some canteen workers from a factory night shift when they, too, saw a glowing mass of lights emerge from within a swirling misty cloud on top of Pendle Hill.
What Grimshawe and Farmer saw, a dark cigar with a central mass of swirling colours blending together like a melting pot of neon fire - is a virtual rerun sixty-three years later of what the two policemen witnessed on the other side of the same hill.
Yet these men could not have known about this earlier case. The PRO file on the policeman's sighting was not released until several years after I documented the testimony at Nelson. These two accounts of the twentieth-century supernatural power of Pendle Hill were totally independent and are either an extraordinary coincidence or evidence that a genuine energy of some sort is being regularly created here - a power that witches may once have abused. If so, then it has the form of a misty light that is transmogrified by witness perception in different ways down through the ages but always in a culturally topical fashion.
Moreover, the Nelson case offers evidence of the physical power behind this energy - the electrical fields that might somehow interact with the earth's own electromagnetic powerhouse.
Crimshawe and Farmer described how the cloudy cigar caused their car engine and lights to fail as it floated at roof-top height over their heads. The electrical systems started to work again only after the thing headed away southwards towards Manchester and out of range. Leaping out of the car the two men also felt a downwards pressure as if the atmosphere was 'leaden'. And there was an electrical tingling causing their hair to stand on end, their eyes to water and their heads to throb - almost as if they were surrounded by some viciously strong electrostatic field – as indeed they might well have been.
Nor were they the only witnesses. The whole area surrounding this part of the Pennine window was seething with activity between late on 8 March and the early hours of 9 March 1977. My files show over twenty sightings from that time, and 75 per cent of these reports came from within 10 miles of Pendle Hill. I doubt that this is mere happen-stance.
The source of the experienceOrdinary person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsVisiting telluric hot spots
Jenny Randles - Supernatural Pennines