Did a Cumbrian pensioner really travel to other planets in the 1950s? LES HEWITT looks at the mystery surrounding Charles Jevington’s disappearance
Look back at history, even more recent history, and there are scores of tales of people that disappear without a trace. There are also some tales of people that appear out of nowhere. There can be few tales like the curious events that surrounded a local man from Thursby in Cumbria who did both.
Among the locals of Thursby, the 74 year old Charles Jevington was well-known and well liked. People who knew him best would regularly refer to him as Old Charlie.
In May 1955, the last sighting anyone made of the pensioner was when local farmer’s daughter, Meg Compton, spotted him fleeing across a field. He was heading towards a woodland with nothing more than a simple backpack. At that time, Meg had little idea that she was a witness to a bizarre event.
When it became clear that the old man had vanished, the police investigation was launched. While a search of the area he was last seen in was conducted, other enquiries were made. It was initially believed that Jevington had relatives living somewhere in York, and he simply made his way to the main road and hitched a lift there.
Based upon that assumption, the West Yorkshire constabulary got involved in the disappearance. Both forces worked in conjunction with one another and quickly established that Old Charlie had no relatives that resided in York. Without that line of inquiry, all officers were left stumped by what actually happened to him.
For a little over five years, the disappearance left everyone bemused. The cold case likely had not moved since the day he vanished. As far as police were concerned. The only person who could adequately reveal what happened to Charlie was Charlie himself. In August 1960, he did precisely that.
What happened to Old Charlie?
When Old Charlie returned to Thursby, he had acted like nothing had really happened. The locals, naturally, bombarded him with questions and explanations. The explanation that he offered was hardly what anyone had expected or even anticipated.
While Old Charlie was out for a walk in the woods, he revealed that he encountered ‘one of those flying saucers’. He went on to also explain that he also met and conversed with the pilots. They went as far as to offer him a trip aboard. Jevington accepted, and was even allowed to collect some personal belongings prior to departure.
According to what Old Charlie revealed, he visited many worlds that he described as both weird and wonderful. Among the enthralled crowd was a local astronomer. He was much less gripped by the tale that he was hearing, and opted to challenge Jevington over his claims. The astronomer’s tone and diction were highly condescending and sarcastic. Jevington was asked if he stopped off at Saturn en route. Old Charlie refuted that, but did reveal something that caused consternation to the astronomer. All of the outer planets had rings.
When the mocking laughter of the astronomer spread around the room, Old Charlie took great offence at that reaction. He responded negatively to that and revealed his intent on leaving once again. He refused to return on this occasion. That only made things worse, so Jevington stormed out in humiliation. Only Meg felt a tinge of sympathy for the old man. He rejected all her efforts to calm him down. He insisted that he would be leaving permanently within a couple of weeks.
Just like he revealed, Old Charlie did disappear in a similar manner to the previous time. Also as promised, he has not been seen or heard from since. That did add some kind of credibility to what he said in retaliation to the humiliation he likely felt. Further vindication was also to follow on with the onset of the Space Race.
Scores of deep space probes and unmanned missions to virtually all the planets within the Solar System have made a wealth of discoveries ever since Charles Jevington disappeared for good. Among those discoveries concerned the gas giants. All of them do indeed have rings around them. Only those that surround Saturn can be seen from Earth.
How did Charles Jevington become a space expert?
The chance that Jevington was some kind of expert in the astronomical field was minimal at best. Astronomy is quite a niche subject for the majority of people. How did Jevington accurately predict that the gas giants of the Solar System have rings around them years ahead of organizations such as NASA? Putting down to a mere lucky guess is a huge stretch for credulity.
The first time that Jevington vanished, the police investigation conducted a search over 25 square miles and made numerous enquiries. No clues or leads ever materialized. Where did he go for five years? And where could he be now?