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October 1969 - Birmingham - Red Sphere Sighting

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Birmingham UFO Group Case Report

Author: Dave Hodrien

Release Date: 20/09/2021

Last Updated: 22/09/2021


In September 2021 I was contacted on the phone by an elderly gentleman named Bob who wanted to get a historic sighting he had experienced back in 1969 on the record. As it turns out his sighting directly involves one of the most famous landmarks of Birmingham, the cylindrical tower block known as the Rotunda!


Modern photograph of the Rotunda

Sighting Details


Back in 1969 Bob was 18 years old and worked at the Tesco supermarket which was situated at the base of the Rotunda in Birmingham centre. He worked in the meat preparation room, preparing stock each evening for the following day.


Aerial map showing the location of the Rotunda
How the Rotunda looked back in 1969

One late afternoon in October the manager came into the prep room and asked Bob and three of his work colleagues to take a chiller up to St. Martins Queensway to load onto a flatbed lorry. The prep room was situated below ground level, and steps lead up to an exit to the road on the Southern side of the Rotunda near to the Mulberry Bush pub (which 5 years later would be the location of a suspected IRA bomb).


Historic picture of the Mulberry Bush pub
Modern photograph of the same location

The men took the chiller up to the street. It was around 4.30pm. Due to the time of year it was already starting to get dark, and the buildings all had their lights on. When they reached Queensway they found that the flat bed lorry had not yet turned up, so put the chiller down on the pavement. While he waited for the lorry, Bob looked around and up into the sky.


Modern photograph of the Rotunda from St. Martins Queensway

He noticed a red orb of light in the distance to the South West West in the direction of New Street station. He pointed it out to his colleagues saying “Look at that red glowing light there!”


Modern photograph from the sighting location in the direction of New Street

The orb was moving in their direction and seemed to be travelling about 100 mph. It seemed quite high up at first, but as it approached it was clearly also gradually descending. It continued to get nearer until it reached the top of the Rotunda, then suddenly abruptly stopped. Bob could see it clearer now it was near. It appeared to be a vivid red glowing sphere, roughly 8-10 feet in diameter, with defined edges. There was no sound coming from it whatsoever.


Aerial map showing the Rotunda (A), New Street station (B) and estimated path of the UFO
Drawing of the UFO

After several seconds of remaining motionless the sphere began to slowly descend vertically down the side of the Rotunda, like it was looking into the windows. Bob estimates it moved at about 20 mph. When it got to about ¾ of the way down it again abruptly stopped for a few seconds. It then reversed its movement, travelling back up the side of the tower.


When it reached the top it once again halted for a few seconds. Then suddenly it shot away extremely fast into the sky to the West in the direction it had approached from, ascending rapidly as it went! Within seconds it had vanished from sight due to the distance.


Modern photograph of the Rotunda from the sighting location showing the path of the object

Bob and his work colleagues were astounded at what they had just witnessed. They spoke about it with each other while they continued to wait for the lorry to show up. However after this they never really mentioned it much to one another. Back then Bob was not aware of anyone who he could report the sighting to and he thought telling the authorities would be pointless. I am the first investigator he has ever spoken to about the incident.


Sighting Analysis


This is a truly stunning multiple witness sighting of an anomalous object right in the centre of Birmingham. It seems unlikely that the glowing sphere witnessed by Bob and three others had a mundane explanation. It was clearly not a normal aircraft of any kind. It halted for numerous seconds multiple times and both descended and ascended vertically, so could not have been an aeroplane.


It was seen at close enough proximity to confirm it was not a patrol helicopter. Even at the top of the Rotunda the structure of a helicopter would likely have been visible, as would other navigation lights besides red. However the object also descended ¾ of the way down the side of the tower. The Rotunda is 266 feet high, which meant that at its closest it would have only been approximately 66 feet away. At this distance it would have been possible to see it quite clearly, and also hear the sound of rotor blades.


It should also be noted that the area does not fall within an airway, and is within controlled airspace, as seen on 360 Radar.


Map confirming area is not within an airway
Map confirming area is within controlled airspace

While the above are modern maps, it is highly probable that this would have still applied back in 1969 due to the proximity of Birmingham International Airport.


The object could not have been a Chinese lantern or lit inflatable for a number of reasons. Lanterns were not publicly available back in 1969. The manoeuvres of the object clearly demonstrated it was under intelligent control. And the speed it left the area at was much too rapid to have been caused by drift caused by air currents.


Ball lightning is not red in colour, and it was a dry and clear afternoon so this cannot have been the cause. Earth lights are extremely rare and usually occur over rural locations near to bodies of water, neither of which would apply to Birmingham city centre.


If this incident had happened today a quad drone may have potentially been responsible. These have the ability to hover motionlessly, descend and ascend vertically and suddenly fly away at a rapid pace. However this sighting took place in 1969, decades before these were even utilised by the military, let alone commercially available.


With all of these explanations dismissed, I find it likely that this was a genuine sighting of an advanced and intelligently controlled craft. Due to its apparent small size and the movement patterns observed it is possible that it was unmanned and performing reconnaissance of the area.


It’s great that Bob has got in touch to report this fascinating historical event and get it officially documented by Birmingham UFO Group. Unfortunately he did not form lasting friendships with his work colleagues so I am unable to speak with the other witnesses. If you have any information relating to this incident please get in touch.


Copyright Dave Hodrien 2021