To most people 1977 is synonymous with punk rock but in West Wales it is more closely associated with UFOs and aliens in silver suits. You see this was the year when the Pembrokeshire coastline became the world focal point for extraterrestrial activity.
It started in February 1977 when 15 schoolkids at Broad Haven Primary School claimed to have witnessed a metallic cigar-shaped craft land in a field near their school. Some of them were adamant that they saw a silver alien with pointed ears emerge from the UFO. Teachers and parents were sceptical but the kids were so convinced of what they saw they handed in a petition to police urging them to investigate. When asked by their headmaster to sketch the UFO the schoolchildren all produced remarkably similar pictures.
The story gained national headlines and the media flocked to the West Wales coast. Consequently the number of UFO incidents in the area increased dramatically. Was it all mass hysteria? Was somebody mischief-making? Was it the work of the military? Or had aliens actually arrived in Pembrokeshire?
One family in the area seemed particularly plagued by alien activity. Dairyman Billy Coombs and his wife Pauline from Ripperston Farm talked of exploding televisions and being pursued in a car by a fiery object shaped like a rugby ball. They also claimed that a herd of cows had been teleported from a locked field into a nearby farmyard. Matters reached their climax one night in April 1977 when a figure 7ft tall in a silver spacesuit appeared at their window. The policeman who responded to their 999 call was in no doubt that their terror was absolutely genuine.
The strange events in West Wales caused a slew of books to be written (see pic). The Welsh Triangle
(1979) by Peter Paget came to the conclusion that aliens had set up a base beneath the Stack Rock in St Bride's Bay. The Dyfed Enigma
(1979) by Randall Jones Pugh and Ted Holliday tapped into Welsh folklore and ley-line theory. Whilst Clive Harold in The Uninvited
(1979) focused on the peculiar goings on at Ripperston Farm.
There were numerous further sightings. In April 1977 at 2am hotelier Rosa Granville saw an illuminated UFO and two figures in plasticated suits at St Bride's Bay. Cynics will no doubt claim that the appearance of aliens at her hotel would have been great for business but Granville was disturbed enough to demand an official inquiry from the MoD. A discreet investigation was indeed undertaken and although no results have ever been published a local hoaxer was suspected.
Many years later two members of a round table club in the area came forward and confessed their part in a practical joke that had gotten out of hand. Apparently they had been parading around in borrowed silver-lined asbestos suits worn by oil refinery workers which had built-in helmets and made them look 7ft tall.
But does this really explain the West Wales flap? After all, the incidents were numerous and took place over a period of several months. To this day the children (now middle-aged) at Broad Haven Primary School remain convinced that what they saw back in 1977 was more serious than a mere prank and has its real roots in outer space.
You can read a more detailed account of the Welsh Triangle story here