This weekend UFO experts from all over the world will gather in Warminster for a conference on the paranormal. VICTORIA ASHFORD speaks to the son of a former Wiltshire Times reporter whose sightings marked the town as a centre for mysterious objects in the sky.

When he was a child Glen Shuttlewood was warned by his father not to answer questions about UFOs for fear the family would become a laughing stock.

For his journalist father Arthur had become a magnet for cranks and UFO obsessives after he reported on mysterious objects over Warminster in 1964.

His findings form the backdrop of a paranormal conference, Weird 09, being held at The Athaeum Theatre in Warminster this weekend.

Glen is one of five, now adult, children of the legendary UFO enthusiast and, at the age of 62, owns his own undertaker business in Portway, Warminster.

“We had people asking us questions about UFOs quite a lot,” he said.

“Father always said ‘don’t say too much’ because a lot of people laughed at us at the time.

“After a while though the sightings became less and interest just went away. The interest is still there of course – we are not the only star in the skies are we?”

Born in Essex in 1920, Arthur Shuttlewood began his first journalistic role at The Wiltshire Times before moving to The Warminster Journal in the 1950s, a few years before reports of the colloquially-known Warminster Thing first started to take their place in UFO history.

The former councillor on Warminster’s Urban District Council soon became a highly respected figure among ufologists and sceptics alike for his enthusiasm, charisma and dedication to reporting the many unexplained sights and sounds which put the garrison town on the paranormal map during the 1960s and 1970s.

From Christmas 1964, humming or droning sounds were reported to Arthur Shuttle-wood. The strange disturbances flung people to the ground and damaged buildings.

Mr Shuttlewood blamed ‘The Thing’ and became the prime focus for the whole saucer circus that followed.

Warminster became the focus of thousands of sightings and the town became a magnet for alien hunters.

A photograph of a UFO over the area, taken by Gordon Faulkner in 1965, later turned out to be a hoax.

In January 1969, TV astronomer Patrick Moore, a UFO sceptic, visited Warminster and teased Mr Shuttlewood.

Mr Shuttlewood wrote several books in which he claimed to have had contacts with extraterrestrials wanting to save humans from destroying the planet.

“I wasn’t a believer in it myself. My father was of course; he had a lot of sightings,” Glen said.

“I did have a sighting myself. When I was 17, I was with my driving instructor David Hudson having a lesson and we saw a bright orange ball that went across the top of The Downs. We were in Bradley Road and my instructor said ‘get out quick and let’s have a look’, so we did.

“We drove up to the golf club to see if we could get a better look but it was gone.

“Father used to go to Cradle Hill a lot and there used to be quite a few of them up there because there were a lot of unusual sightings at the time.

“Most of his sightings were in the evening when I was in bed but he used to tell me about what he had seen. A lot of it was cigar-shaped and circular objects.

“There was quite a strong euphoria around in the town. It was an interesting time to grow up in Warminster.

“Father was very enthusiastic about his work. It took over his life in a way, but then he started having a few mini strokes.”

He died in 1996.

Other Shuttlewood siblings include Glen’s sister Sylvia Clacy, 65, who lives in Oxford; Bruce, 63, who lives in Great Yarmouth; Graham, 58, who works for brother Glen at the undertakers and Darren, who is in his late 40s and lives in Warminster.