Mysteries of the world are fascinating subjects and we rely on scientists, archaeologists and storytellers to bring them out of the dark. Finding a mystery closer to home can add more interest.
This was the case for former South Shields resident Dan Green. Dan is a British author, broadcaster, researcher and writer, he recently got in touch and told me some interesting stories that he researched when living in the town.
I came across a genuine fairy story in the small area of woodland behind the football and rugby playing fields of South Shields Marine and Technical College. I’m no psychic, but I had been drawn to this location after playing football there for years, used to have the odd pee in the bushes.
Anyway, in 1983 I was curious at the suggestion that not only could images imperceptible to the human eye be picked up on camera but that great mystery of mind could even imprint them onto film with enough effort. A controversial claim by the much tested American Ted Serios and his ‘thoughtography’ experiments.
As ever a true scientist, I thought I’d try some experimentation of my own and took some pictures in the forestry area behind the fields with the strong thought of traditional fairies being there. When the pictures where developed it was hard not to notice some representations of diaphanous semi-opaque figures of the established fairy variety. Surely this was just imagination or the brain forming patterns ?
I repeated the experiment with similar results and decided it high time to involve an independent investigator. I sent the negatives to the newly formed Association for the Study of Anomalous Phenomena and they passed them over to their expert the very credible and respected Vernon Harrison, former President of the Royal Photographic Society.
He could see exactly what I was pointing out and suggested he came to South Shields to take his own photos with his own equipment. He would take the photos at intervals of one minute apart and if the entities were seen to move about, then we might have to consider the unthinkable!
Vernon sent his report to the ASSAP but was puzzled when they refused to fund his venture. I later found out on an 1855 map of Shields that this precise area had once been called ‘Fair Fields’. A corruption from a far distant recollection of a ‘fairy field’ perhaps ?
Later in the decade Shields had a prestigious private visit from my friend university lecturer and journalist Joe Cooper of Leeds, who came to my home in South Shields with a big problem. It was Joe who had finally revealed the case of the Cottingley Fairies whereby two cousins had fooled the world for almost 70 years having faked photos of fairies at the small beck at Cottingley.
For year after year Joe had visited the girls asking them how they had done it but they always insisted the fairies were real. They weren’t, they had been cardboard cut outs with hat pins and the truth only finally came out in 1983 when the girls fell out and one decided to spite the other with a confession to Joe.
Under normal circumstances Joe would have been delighted with the scoop he had patiently waited years for, but not when the manuscript for his book defending the photos as genuine sat with his publisher, and was about to be published!
What should he do, he asked me and my wife ? Look the other way and just have the book come out ? The girls confessed to The Times newspaper the following year and the game was up, but they claimed the very last photo they’d taken was genuine, so Joe went with this to cut his losses. But experts later found out it wasn’t genuine.
My interest in the camera picking up fairy images invisible to the eye continued for a while after. Here’s a pic of my favourite taken in France, a fairy figure lazing from left to right at the bottom of a tomb. Real or simply imagination?
And there you have it, for those who consider belief in such things – Fairies in South Shields – who needs to go to Glastonbury !
For further information about the work of Dan Green contact www.dangreencodex.co.uk/
Gary Alikivi October 2019.