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A 1922 Close Encounter

Through March and April of this year (2021) I featured in a new four-part TV documentary series entitled “Alien Autopsy – The Search For Answers” which was broadcast on the A + E Chanel Blaze. After each episode was broadcast, I would receive a number of emails or messages on social media. Most of these were commenting on the documentary series but others wanted to report UFO sightings to me.

One gentleman who contacted me via email I’ll simply call Stephen. Stephen provided some brief details of his wife’s grandfather who, a few years before he passed away, had self-published his own memoirs. These memoirs came in two parts. The first part was about his working life as a mining engineer and the second about his life in general. The man who wrote these memoirs is Richard Hathaway and he was born just before the First World War. Stephen supplied me with the details about his wife’s grandfather Mr Richard Hathaway and his close encounter in 1922 and I was permitted to read them. Here, with Stephen’s permission is the close encounter of 1922.


Richard Hathaway, born 2nd August 1913 at Irlams o'th' Heights (Salford, Greater Manchester), was aged nine in 1922 at the time he and good friend Leo had this encounter.

Five years later Richard would be leaving school and not wanting to work in the mine or mills and being highly self-motivated began knocking on doors looking for work in engineering of some sort. His search took him to the doors of the impressive Metropolitan Vickers concern at Trafford Park. Here he became skilled as a draughtsman before getting more involved with the massive electrical engineering projects that were involved in power generation, railways, mining and many other fields. As a result, he also got a good grounding in mechanical engineering.

Through his own perseverance he succeeded in becoming a Fellow in the Institute of Electrical Engineers.

During World War two, he was involved in the development of mine sweepers at sea using systems involving high currents to produce surges of magnetism to detonate mines. At the age of forty he made the move to the NCB (National Coal Board) as Chief Electrical Engineer for the Wakefield and surrounding areas where he was involved with improving the mines electrical systems and designing and overseeing installation of mineshaft winching systems and pit head gear. He also was involved in the sad tasks of investigating mining explosions at Walton and Normanton collieries.

At the age of forty-nine he moved to Qualter Hall, carrying out similar work but this time on a more global scale. Here he became Technical Director culminating in becoming Executive Director when British Steel Constructions took over the company.

Richard always was a proper gentleman, very precise, articulate and not one to make stories up. Reading his memoirs, it seems he never spoke much about this event but he must have thought about it a great deal. As time passed and he was getting older, he had the conviction to include this story in those pages so that it would not be lost should the worst happen. Richard passed away in his very late eighties.

Looking at Google maps, the area where this encounter took place somewhere between the end of Bank Lane towards the River Irwell was described as fairly rural and near the Agecroft Colliery. Now, it is the site of a large industrial estate as far as the river. Heaton Park and Drinkwater Park are still in existence and very much as they were.


The following is taken verbatim from Richard Hathaway’s memoirs, and it is the first time it has been published anywhere.

“The story you are about to read is true, even though some small discrepancies may have occurred over the time which has elapsed since the encounter took place. At this time, I lived with my parents and brothers in a small terraced house at the bottom of Prestwich Street in the village of Irlams o’th’ Height which overlooked the Irwell valley. The A6 road bisected the village. Bank Lane ran down from the A6 to Irlams o’th’ Height railway station down in the valley. The road ended under the railway bridge. On the other side of the bridge were a couple of pastures, probably a quarter mile in length and very narrow, known locally as the “long fields”. One could traverse these fields on the way across the valley to Prestwich, in which district there was located Heaton Park. Heaton Park boasted a magnificent lake in which were five islands. This place was a magnet in summer for many schoolchildren and although about four miles from home, a goodly number of children from our side of the valley visited the park during holiday times.

I had a particular school friend by the name of Leo Parkes at this time. We were both nine years old when the encounter took place. Leo and I had planned to visit Heaton Park on my birthday, Wednesday the 2nd of August 1922, weather permitting, and spend a day there, intending also to have a couple of hours on the lake and explore the islands. We intended to set out at about 9.30 am and mother prepared sandwiches for us for the day and bottles of lemon drink prepared from crystals.

Came the day, we duly set off down Bank Lane seeing that there was a mist in the valley. It seemed to be thicker over the “long fields”, but we attached no importance to this. When we were well in the fields, we were amazed to see in the mist a very large cylindrical shaped object, rather like a long pipe with cone shaped ends very much like the nose of the Concorde plane. Its total length must have been all of 150 feet and was probably 20 feet in diameter. We thought at the time that it was probably something to do with the nearby Agecroft pit (colliery), a regular haunt of hours, so we decided to investigate.

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