Conspiracy Theories, Mysteries, Time Travel

Time travellers spotted in Cumbria, New York and… Downton Abbey

Stephen Hawking once said, “If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?” Well, Stephen, maybe they’re already here.

Time travel won’t go away. It continues to be a prominent and beloved theme in all kinds of fiction. From light-hearted comedy adventures like Back to the Future, to romances like Somewhere In Time and The Time Traveller’s Wife, to psychological thrillers like The Butterfly Effect. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – one of the earliest stories about time travel – is now one of the most retold stories ever. A recent surge of time travel movies – Looper, Source Code and Edge of Tomorrow – have been huge, highly acclaimed hits. Some of Star Trek’s best episodes and movies involve time travel. And Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling Outlander novels have just been adapted for TV.

Oh, and let’s not forget about a little show called Doctor Who.

But time travel is still considered purely fictional. While there is talk of it being theoretically possible with wormholes and faster-than-light travel, someone is yet to invent a time machine.

Well, here’s a conspiracy theory for you. Time travellers are already among us, which means that someone has already invented a time machine, or will invent one in the future. (Or the past?)

Just look at this! A time traveller’s gone and left a water bottle from 2014 in a house in 1924!


Oh, wait. That’s just a boo-boo made by a dozy crewmember during a promotional shoot for ITV period drama Downton Abbey. Oops.

Well, unless the producers are trying to secretly tell us that Downton Abbey – a show about an aristocratic family and their servants in the 1910s and 20s – is actually a time travel story. Apparently double yellow lines, modern conservatories and television aerials have also made appearances on the show. That’s a conspiracy theory in itself…

But let’s have a look at some ‘real’ time travel…

Mobile phones in 1928 and 1938

In 2010, filmmaker George Clarke watched a clip of the 1928 premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, which was on the film’s DVD extras. He noticed a scary-looking old woman talking on what looks like a mobile phone….

In 1938, this video was filmed outside the Massena facility of the Aluminium Company of America in New York City.

People have theorised as to what these ‘phones’ might be. A small portable radio? A hearing aid instrument that was roughly the shape of a mobile phone? One person suggested that the woman in the Charlie Chaplin clip might be listening to ocean resonance in a seashell. Ahem.

But it could be that we’ve been infiltrated by time travellers.

Time travelling hit and run

One evening in June 1950, a pedestrian in Times Square, New York City, noticed a man dressed in 19th century clothes, looking disorientated and confused. He was accidentally hit by a taxi and killed. A number of 19th century items were subsequently found in his pockets. They included a bill for the care of a horse, old banknotes and a letter dated June 1876 sent to the address of Rudolph Fentz. As it turned out, a man named Rudolph Fentz matching this man’s description went missing in 1876.

Did he travel forwards in time to 1950?

It was discovered later that this story – which became significant in the 1970s – apparently originated in a fictional short story by Jack Finney called “I’m Scared”. Apparently, anyway.

The Solway Firth Spaceman


In 1964, Jim Templeton took this mysterious photo of his daughter on Burgh Marsh, overlooking the Solway Firth in Cumbria, England. After he had the picture developed, he was shocked to see what he believed was a man in a space suit in the background. He insisted that no one else was around apart from a couple of women sitting in a car at the other end of the marsh. And Kodak, who developed the photo, confirmed it was genuine. He also said that shortly after the newspapers published the photo, he received a visit from two ‘Men in Black’, who probed him about the encounter.

So what happened on Burgh Marsh that day? One theory is that a team of astronauts from the future – wearing cloaking devices – travelled back in time and infiltrated the Templetons’ picnic for reasons unknown. But Templeton’s camera saw through their cloaking devices and inadvertently snapped one of them.

Or the ‘spaceman’ could just be Annie Templeton, Jim Templeton’s wife, standing with her back towards the camera, her light blue dress appearing white because of overexposure. That’s what today’s analysts say.

Not sure I buy that. The head of the spaceman doesn’t look like the back of someone’s head (though the bent arm you can see does look like it’s the back of someone’s arm). Also, have a look at this photo…

Solway Firth Mother

Here Annie Templeton is pictured. She is sleeveless, yet the spaceman is not. And there isn’t even a hint of blue in the spaceman’s outfit. Doesn’t look like overexposure to me. Looks like a white suit.

There are many more mysterious alleged instances of time travel that I’ll be exploring in future articles, so stay tuned…

Next week: The Disney Conspiracy

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