LES HEWITT looks back on a strange urban legend, The Sandown Clown of 1973, an unsolved mystery from the Isle of Wight in Southern England
Go to any country and somewhere there would be a tale of a local legend or entity that, on the face of it, sounds too good to be real. The UK is teeming with such encounters. Most come from the mainland, but not always.
Sandown is best known for being a popular holiday destination on the Isle of Wight. However, during early summer in 1973, it briefly became known for something else entirely. Something, that if true, must rank as one of the most bizarre sightings on record.
Only two witnesses ever offered his tale. They were young children whose true identities remained withheld. Both were around 7 years old at the time and were part of a family holiday close to Lake Common. Like all toddlers of a similar age, they loved to explore. During one expedition, a strange sound seduced both of them. They later likened it to the siren of an ambulance, but unlike any that they’d ever heard. It led them across a golf course and towards a swampy region close to Sandown Airport.
Deep within this marshland was a wooden bridge. This was where the Sandown Clown made initial contact. According to the children, he stood seven feet tall and only had three fingers on each hand. He had no neck. Instead, his head looked unnaturally wedged atop his torso like a snowman might appear. On either side of his head, antenna stuck out. The facial features were also in keeping with this bizarre appearance. Triangle shaped eyes, a square nose and yellow lips.
Hideous, strange Sandown Clown
In spite of this hideous appearance, neither child saw fit to flee. They seemed to saunter to within 50 yards of the bridge when he appeared to them once again. This time, he had an accessory with him. A microphone with black, knobbed head and a white cable. The noise that originally summoned them resumed. The boy was the first to react as one would have expected, the girl followed suit. A voice took over the sound. Even though the children covered substantial ground in such a short amount of time, the voice seemed to be beside them. It asked a question: Hello, are you still there?
That was sufficient to ease any fear that they had, as both opted to return. The closer they got, the more events deteriorated. They were both much more skeptical than they had been previously. In a notebook that he produced, he wrote: Hello. I am all colours Sam. when the children drew close enough; he spoke to them. However, his lips did not move, so his words appeared mumbled and difficult to comprehend.
They exchanged questions. Sam revealed the reasons behind his ripped clothes, putting it down to the only clothes that he owned. Sam denied that he was a man. When he asked whether he was a ghost, Sam responded with maybe. He never elaborated on that, but revealed that there were others like him. He admitted to being afraid of humans and would not retaliate if attacked.
All three were now comfortable with each other’s company. So much so that Sam invited the kids into his hut. The youngsters accepted and entered through a small flap. It built the interior of this hut on two levels. The ground floor only had simple wooden furniture and an electric heater. The dominant feature of this level was the wallpaper. It was a blueish green in colour with a dial motif. The upper level had less headroom. The floor was metallic.
Sam revealed he lived on a diet of berries and water, all found locally. He only ate in late afternoons and always purified the water before drinking it. There was a demonstration provided by him. He would place the berry in one ear, jerk his head, and transfer the berry behind one eye. When he repeated this act, the berry ended up in his mouth.
The trio converse for another half an hour before it was time for the children to return. Sam allowed them to leave. En route back across the golf course, the children encountered a passer-by and told him all about their encounter with the friendly ghost. Their tale did not convince this man.
BUFORA investigates the ‘Sandown Clown’
Several weeks after meeting Sam, the young girl mentioned it to her father. He got in touch with The British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), although nobody really knew why. Several years prior to the encounter, her father had an encounter with a UFO on the other side of the island. Many cite this as the reason BUFORA got involved. BUFORA investigated, interviewed both children, and concluded that they were being truthful. At least as best they could understand.
So what lured two young children into the Isle of Wight countryside? An extraterrestrial? An apparition? Or was this some nefarious paedophile? Given that a UFO research organisation conducted the only official investigation, it would seem to show that Sam was some alien. This could be merely down to the father’s interpretation of his daughter’s account.
Could they have encountered an actual ghost? It convinced both children of this, and Sam never really refuted that outright. One factor that contradicts this is spirits are seen and not heard. At least not without dedicated investigative equipment. Neither child obviously had access.
Was this a ploy or even an attempted abduction? Perhaps if this were to happen today, it would be the most likely scenario. However, neither child reported anything of the sort. The father would more than likely get in touch with the local constabulary as opposed to a UFO research organisation. Sam could have been a normal man with some sort of issue. Perhaps he was suffering with mental health problems or addiction. Children embellish details they don’t fully understand.
Or did two bored children conjure up an entire saga of the Sandown Clown to get noticed? This is not likely as the true identities of both kids is unknown to this day. Assuming that either or both are still alive, they would be close to retirement age. Maybe they have families of their own. Perhaps they have an online presence.
Perhaps they are even reading.
LES HEWITT lives in London and is a freelance writer with a long standing passion for the unexplained and paranormal. Les collected numerous accounts of strange, unexplained and paranormal events and compiled them into an eBook. This eBook is titled Histories & Mysteries and is available from the Kindle Store on Amazon. Les is currently working on a follow up title. In his spare time, Les is a keen amateur magician and enjoys astronomy whenever possible.