A FEW weeks ago social media was electrified by an incredible image purportedly capturing the exact moment an unidentified flying object (UFO) was seen in the skies above Bury.

The photograph, taken from Rupert Street, Radcliffe, allegedly showed a single or cluster of flying objects with four lights projecting out from a triangular craft.

A post carrying the imaging was shared on social media and generated a huge, although often sceptical buzz.

Sceptics were soon proven right, however, and the image turned out to be a fake when it was revealed it had been posted many times across the web.

UFO sightings in the UK have been recorded since at least the 12th century. And, while tales of aliens might conjure up images of Agents Mulder and Scully, in decades gone by the UK Government invested serious manpower in investigating UFOs.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide:

Photo of UFO allegedly photographed above Radcliffe. The image later turned out to be a fake

Historically it fell to the Royal Air Force (RAF) to compile public reports and submit them to the National Archives.

But in 2009 the UFO department was mothballed after the RAF concluded that aliens presented no ‘potential threat’ to the UK.

Since then records from between 1997 and 2009, containing hundreds of reports, have been made public.

Reports have been made air traffic control, employees, pilots, police officers, journalists and others. And the best time to catch a glimpse of a UFO is allegedly between 8pm and midnight.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide:

Alleged photo of a UFO captured by Mark Isherwood above his father's house in Holme Avenue, Brandlesholme

Documented in these ‘British X-Files’ are a number of UFO sightings from in and around Bury.

On October 13, 1997, at around 9.20pm, a 'bright, white light' was seen above the town.

According to the records the light was eventually seen to have moved Southwards, towards Saddleworth.

A year later, at 3.45pm on November 9, an object with a 'defined mass' and spouting flames and black smoke was seen in Bury's skies.

However, the spotter was unable to tell the object's exact shape.

Upwards of a dozen flying saucers were sighted over Bury at teatime on April 4, 2000.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide:

Ufologist, Arthur Tomlinson, from Whitefield, in 1992

The report said that at 5.30pm “At least twelve, small objects that were saucer shaped. They were silver and glinting in the sun. Very erratic at high speed”.

Several years later an object simply described as a ‘UFO’ was spotted over Ramsbottom on September 5, 2008

Another related sighting occurred on March 8, 2009 when a flaming object was spotted over Bolton at around 1.30am, before shooting off toward Bury.

The report read: “A large fireball but with an oblong shape. Thought it was a crashing airliner but it stopped and hovered.

“It then came towards Dascar, stopped and headed in a SE direction towards Bury. It hovered in the distance for a minute before disappearing.”

A number of other UFO reports, not included in the the official RAF records, can also be found in the annals of the the Bury Times.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide:

Ufologist, Arthur Tomlinson, from Whitefield, holds the 'lucky' stone he claims aliens left for his daughter

Over the years multiple readers have contacted the contacted the paper to relay tales sightings.

In 2013, an image of a UFO was captured by Mark Isherwood in Holme Avenue, Brandlesholme, at 6.10pm on September 10.

The flying object was around 10,000ft in the air and had caught Mr Isherwood’s eye due to the sun reflecting of its surface.

It was said to have been visible for around 30 to 40 seconds as it drifted over Elton Reservoir towards Bury.

A few weeks later Jason Warner, aged 26, saw a strange craft flying over the Bury and the surrounding hills, from his flat on The Rock, between 9.45pm and 10.30pm on August 2.

He also saw flashes of light and a large object moving behind the clouds.

In 2009, eye-witnesses reported seeing unidentified flying objects in Bury Road at about 10.30pm on September 19.

Lorna Brown, aged 32, from Bury, had been in a car with four others when she spotted lights in the sky above the Newbank Garden Centre.

She said: “They were orange and red. At first there were two, then about eight or nine and they were in a perfectly straight line.

"They made a triangle shape and then a line again before they vanished. Then one appeared on its own.

"It was a red colour and looked like a ball of fire in the sky. It was amazing to watch; we were all gobsmacked.

"I didn’t believe in UFOs before but there was no mistaking them for anything else.”

According to Ufologist Arthur Tomlinson Whitefield is another hotspot for alien activity.

In the 1990s the then 59-year-old told the Prestwich and Whitefield Guide about one incredible experience which confirmed his belief in extraterrestrial visitors.

The spectacular event happened at 6.50am one dark October morning in 1965.

Mr Tomlinson recalled: “I had been out to get some milk from the front door when I looked up and saw this thing. It was a long tube with glowing lights along the length of it.

“I watched it for the 20 minutes it took to go behind the houses. As far as I knew no-one else had seen it and it wasn’t until 36 years later I met someone who had.”

Three years later, Mr Tomlinson had been out with a friend in Didsbury. As they were returning along Bury Old Road in Kirkhams, at about 1.30am, they saw a white light in the sky around 20ft above the railway.

The friends stopped to get a better look, but the light suddenly changed direction. They gave chase until they caught up with the object where it had stopped ‘as if waiting for them’.

“It set off down Thatch Leach Lane and at the bottom suddenly took off and shot away towards Yorkshire,” Mr Tomlinson said. “That was the last we saw it.”

But not only had Mr Tomlinson seen spacecraft, but he also claimed to have communicated with an alien named Maserek using a white witch as a conduit.

The singular relationship started with a strange phone call one evening in 1967 when the woman gave him information of the flightpath of the alien’s spaceship.

Although he initially thought the caller may have been a prankster, his doubts were assuaged when he tested the interlocutor’s evidently extensive knowledge of UFO sightings.

On another occasion the ‘alien’ called, once again communicating through the witch, and told Mr Tomlinson that it had left a present for his 18-month-old daughter in a nearby phone box.

He rushed round the corner where he found a small, translucent stone, wrapped in a black material.

His daughter Helen retained the stone throughout her life as a good luck charm.