One enquiry that we get quite a lot at the Archives and Records centre relates to the Robert Taylor Incident – the only alleged alien encounter in the British Isles to be ever opened as a criminal investigation by the police – and it happened right here in Livingston.
Bob Taylor was employed as a foreman forrester by the Livingston Development Corporation. On the 9th September 1979 he drove his Landover from the Deans area of Livingston, where he resided with his wife, and parked opposite the entrance to the now defunct Bangour Village Hospital. Walking with his dog, Lara, on Dechmont Law, he was there to inspect the work of his men from the previous day.
He never changed his story as to what happened next. Coming on an opening in the forest he claimed he saw an unidentified object, saucer shaped, on stilts, grey coloured. From beneath the saucer came two objects – similar to mines used at sea during war, four to five feet high with protruding spikes. These objects rolled towards Robert. They grabbed his trousers. He smelled a strong odour.
“I could barely breathe. The smell caught the back of my throat,” he later said.
He felt he was going to faint.
He was saved by his dog Lara, who had been running off in the trees, but returned and barked and the alien objects retreated.
Robert returned to his Landrover but, still suffering from whatever gas that odour had belonged to - he was unable to make the vehicle start. Instead, he ran home.
When he arrived home his wife was shocked by his condition. He wanted her to ring him in sick at work, but after persuasion he told her what had happened. She told his supervisor who in turn rang the police.
Taylor’s boss and the police went to the site but found no craft. They did, however, find tread markings and circular holes in the ground which were difficult to explain, being in a difficult to reach place (up a track with two locked gates) but could have only been caused by heavy machinery. No vehicles at the LDC had the same tread marks. The ground was soft, but no tread marks led to, or led away from the site. Looking at Taylor’s Landrover it could be seen that someone had tried – and failed – to get it away.
Examined at Bangour hospital, Taylor was found to have burn marks on each side of his neck. The police took his trousers away for forensic examination – the only thing found were tears around the area he said had been grabbed. Similar trousers were tested and it was found that only extreme force could have torn them.
Having stuck resolutely to his story, and perhaps ridiculed, Taylor later moved away from Livingston. His trousers ended up in the hands of a ufoologist. It was generally agreed that Taylor did not have a fanciful character, was not prone to making up stories. He did seek fame or money from his experiences. He never changed his story, and the markings in the ground were never adequately explained.
In 1992 the Livingston Development Corporation installed a boulder and commemorative plaque at the site – reported by the Independent as being the world’s first monument to a UFO. This boulder is still in place can still be seen and a photo has been uploaded onto Google maps - https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=dechmont+law&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x4887d96ba7f0d5e9:0xb14eaaa33e2f792d,Dechmont+Law&gl=uk&t=p&ei=nMmLUcz6LeKl0wXg74DYAg&ved=0CKQBELYD
The enquiries that we get about this incident usually ask us if we have any files or information on the incident. Unfortunately we only have one file, com
piled about the time of the setting of the commemorative plaque. It consists of newspaper clippings from the time, which, due to laws governing the reproduction of newspapers I can’t place on here; there are also a couple of typed reports of the incident, but these have been written later , are not official, and largely replicate what can be found in the newspapers. Every once in a while I do go into the archive and try and find information on this incident, even the briefest mention, – but the accident books kept by the Corporation were destroyed in 1996 when the Corporation was wound up, as were employee records. There was, allegedly, an investigation by Taylor’s supervisor Mr Drummond, but no notes or files from this survive. The Corporation took thousands of photographs in its lifetime – but did not take any of the UFO site. I would love to be able to add a little information to this story, a little documentary evidence, but none appears to exist in the LDC archive. Perhaps the phlegmatic Scots of the 1970s and 1980s did not think any papers and files were worth keeping, which is a pity, because as archivists we want to try and build up a general public interest in the material we have – and what better way would there have been than a cornucopia of information on an attempted alien abduction!
|Sketch of UFO incident site|