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  • Writer's pictureJohn Wick

The Silver Man Of Risley

It had been a mercifully quiet start to the evening and the officers who were on duty were grateful to have some time to catch up on their paperwork after what had been an unusually busy week. There was a low murmur of conversation emanating from the report writing room, as the men inside compared notes and asked each other questions, but without sufficient volume to attract the attention of their Sergeant. For his part, as he sat in a nearby office leafing through the week's crime reports, the shift Sergeant was happy enough to let his officers get on with it.

Admittedly, if things got to the point where they were all clearly just sat around talking to one another, he would end up turning them out into the evening on patrol. But for the time being, he was content to allow them to finalize their existing cases. The only officer not catching up on his workload was PC Harrison, who was still subject to a reprimand, following a car crash which had occurred during the week prior.

The hapless Constable had caused sufficient damage to his patrol car to have been grounded for the foreseeable future, relegated to the station's front office. So whilst his colleagues labored and chatted away in the next room, Harrison sat alone at the front desk, with nothing but his pen and paper and a lukewarm cup of coffee for company. He was grateful, then, when the front doors to the station opened and a couple walked in off the street.

The young officer listened with keen interest as the wife explained what had transpired, whilst her husband stood beside her looking sheepish. He took note of the bandage that covered the man's right hand and his slightly haunted expression, before asking a couple of questions and then hurrying off to find his supervisor. Moments later, he returned with the sergeant, who asked more questions before frowning and then heading back to his office to make a phone call.

Within minutes, the parade room was filled with the sounds of equipment being pulled from desk drawers. There was a flurry of activity, as the officers inside reached for their handcuffs and batons, threw on their tunics and hurried outside to the rear yard. Two of them beckoned for the husband to join them, which he did with no small degree of reluctance, before he was escorted off to a waiting vehicle. Led by the sergeant, a small convoy of police cars pulled out of the rear yard and then headed off in the direction of the nearby atomic energy complex. As he watched their headlights disappear around the corner, PC Harrison sighed to himself dejectedly and then asked the man's wife if she fancied a cup of tea. It was most likely going to be a long night.

Kenneth Edwards' Encounter

On the evening of March the 17th, 1978, Kenneth Edwards was driving past the lengthy perimeter fencing of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Complex situated in the Risley District of Warrington. The 39 year old service engineer was on his way home from a union meeting he had attended in Greater Manchester only a couple of miles away. A quick glance at his van's interior clock informed him that it was 11:30 p.m., far later than he had anticipated. He was quite looking forward to getting home and going to bed, when something caught his attention up along the fence line he was passing. Intrigued, he slowed down and then brought the van to a complete stop. With his vehicle now stationary, Edwards watched in growing astonishment as a dark silhouette gradually lumbered into view, and then slowly began to make its way down the embankment to his right.

He could see that the figure was unnaturally tall, perhaps around eight feet in height and considerably bulkier than the average man. It was clad in some kind of silver suit or protective clothing and appeared to be having great difficulty in negotiating the relatively gentle slope it was descending. Edwards would later describe its movements as labored and unnatural, with a torso that was hunched and bent forwards and legs that moved in a strange and stiff gait, as if they did not possess kneecaps.

Its arms were fixed out in front of it, completely immobile, in a pose he can reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster. He watched on in amazement as the figure finally reached the bottom of the embankment and then stepped out onto the road, roughly 50 feet ahead of him. Caught in the headlights of his vehicle, he could now see the figure's face, which was completely black. The only facial features discernible within this apparent masks were a pair of red glowing eyes, which slowly turned to meet his gaze.

Without warning, Edwards saw the light coming from them rapidly increasing intensity; two narrow beams of energy suddenly traveled the short distance to his van and struck the front of it. The service engineer was immediately consumed by a paralyzing sensation, becoming short of breath as if an immense force was crushing him from above. This horrifying feeling began to subside a few moments later and the driver was suddenly aware of a burning odor.

He looked down and could see that acrid smoke was now pouring from the radio. Worse still, the fingers on his right hand which had been holding onto the steering wheel, were now bright pink and in severe pain. As he massaged his right hand in a vain effort to make the pain go away, he looked up to see that the silver man had now started to shuffle off again, slowly making its way towards the fencing surrounding the local fire station.

When it reached the metal barrier, it's suddenly stiffened in an apparent attempt to stand upright. The figure then appeared to walk on directly through the chain-link fence. It did not pause or seem to be impeded in any way, passing through the obstruction as if it did not exist, before disappearing from view. Utterly consumed by fear and bewilderment, Edwards sat motionless in his van for a moment before starting the engine and driving home as quickly as possible.

When her husband staggered in through the front door an hour later, Barbara Edwards had been sat waiting for him in the living room. But as she began to launched a tirade of abuse at him for coming home late, she immediately stopped herself. Ken's face was a mask of terror and confusion, his injured hand held protectively close to his body. She listened with apprehension about the encounter with the "Silver Man", as he poured himself a drink and then agreed that they should drive straight to padgate Police Station to report the matter.

The Silver Man Encounter's Aftermath

Despite some initial skepticism, the man's clearly distressed state was enough to persuade the officers there to react and he was quickly taken back to the scene. Prior to leaving the station, the officers had found the atomic energy facility to notify them of the incident. And they were slightly surprised to find a group of 20 security guards waiting for them at the site. They were struck by the lack of surprise or disbelief on the faces of these guards, who insisted that Edwards pointed at the exact spot where he had seen the intruder.

For the next hour or so, Edwards and the police officers watched on as the security staff combed the ground either side of the fence where the silver man had emerged. Despite repeated requests, they refused to allow the police officers' access to the complex, before announcing that there was nothing to support the allegation and asking everyone to leave.

In the week after the event, Edwards found it impossible to sleep. The pain and burns to his right hand took much longer to fade and when he tried to take his van radio in for repair, he was informed it was too badly damaged.

The engineer who examined it found that its internal workings had been completely destroyed by what appeared to be a massive surge of energy. The local newspapers soon caught wind of the story, and Ken and Barbara were besieged by both reporters and UFO enthusiasts, who insisted Edwards had experienced a close encounter of the "Third Kind". A deeply private individual, Ken refuse to engage with these groups, hoping that the matter would just go away. But sadly for him, this was not to be the case.

Despite the absence of any assistance from the UKAEA, the local police continued their own investigation. They found a circle of flattened grass at the top of the slope where Edwards had seen the silver man appear and also located the body of a dead rabbit close by. There was no obvious cause of death for the creature, which fueled speculation that it too had been struck by whatever force the entity had used to paralyze Edwards.

With a lack of viable Inquiries, the police investigation was soon discontinued, but it seemed that whatever strange force Edwards had encountered was not yet done with him. Three weeks after the incident, he and his wife had again been driving home past the facility when Ken had suddenly experienced the same mysterious and paralyzing sensation as before. He had pulled over not far from the spot where he had seen the silver man and then got out of his van.

The smothering feeling had only got stronger outside the vehicle, growing in intensity to the point where Ken had blacked out. Barbara was able to revive him a few minutes later and then the two had driven home, vowing to avoid the roads surrounding the facility during any future trips.

A week later, Ken was awoken in the middle of the night by a deep electrical humming sensation. He got out of bed and then walked purposefully around the house, trying to locate the source of the noise, but found nothing. When he opened a window, the sound seemed to increase in intensity, but he could not see anything that might be causing it. In the days that followed, the local newspapers were filled with reports from witnesses who alleged to have seen a cigar shaped UFO hovering over the Atomic Energy Facility, emitting a deep humming noise. Over the following months, Ken's health began to decline; he experienced significant weight loss and started to suffer from debilitating stomach cramps. When he finally sought out for a diagnosis for these symptoms, he was informed that he had developed cancer of the kidneys. Despite major surgery, he was unable to recover from the disease and eventually passed away only five years later.

So what was it that Ken Edwards encountered on that fateful journey home in 1978? For many commentators, this incident bears the hallmarks of a classic alien encounter, which is difficult to explain away or refute. Edwards had little to gain from his story, and far more to lose. It brought him nothing but misery and may ultimately have been a contributory factor towards his eventual death.

The defensive response of the UKAEA to the incident as noted in the police reports, has prompted some to suggest that they may have been aware of what Edwards encountered. Could this being have been an alien observer of their work? Or perhaps some form of interdimensional traveler, explaining its apparent difficulty in negotiating earth's gravity and its ability to pass through solid structures?

Conversely, there are many more who think otherwise. Skeptics were quick to point out that Edwards had been drinking at his Union meeting in Manchester and was most likely intoxicated at the time of the alleged sighting. They speculate that his perception of whatever he witnessed was skewed by the alcohol he consumed and was maybe a deliberate fabrication to placate his wife after coming home both late and drunk.

Other Possible Explanations for the Risley Encounter

One explanation which seems to support this is a story that began to circulate several years after the incident. Situated within walking distance of the fire station was a college dormitory, which had been sealed and secured so that the behavior of the students residing there could be studied. The staff observing these students were conducting research into Circadian Rhythms, and how these could alter and change during a lengthy period of isolation.

Witnesses came forward to relate to tale where a local fireman named Big John (due to his sheer size) had decided to try and play a prank on the students. Dressing himself in one of the protective suits from the fire station, which was made of silver material designed to protect the wearer from high temperatures, he had then made his way across to the dormitory in an attempt to elicit a response from the isolated youths.

Having failed to do so, the firemen had then returned to the station, presumably encountering Ken Edwards as he did so. With the fireman struggling to move around in the cumbersome and bulky suit he was wearing, it's possible that a combination of the van's headlights reflecting off the suit's shiny exterior and Ken's intoxicated state could have led him to believe he was under attack from an alien entity.

It should be noted that the presence of the silver suits, both at the fire station and inside the atomic facility itself, was an idea explored by the police during their investigation. They even went as far as to ask someone from the station to re-enact what Ken had witnessed, dressed in one of these suits. But Edwards was quick to point out that this was nothing like what he had seen.

When researching this event, the main argument in favor of its legitimacy is the character and demeanor of Ken Edwards himself. A quiet and hard working man, he was clearly deeply disturbed by what he is alleged to have seen. He rigidly maintained his story in the years following the incident neither altering nor embellishing it. The police officers and investigators who spoke to him were utterly convinced of his honesty and the emotional upheaval he'd clearly sustained. And whilst many have been quick to offer alternative theories and hypotheses for the event, few can refute the injuries to Ken's hand and the damage to his radio.

It could be that the radio simply malfunctioned at the exact moment he witnessed Big John crossing the road in front of him which then went on to burn his hand, but this would have to have been an extraordinary coincidence. Not impossible, but certainly implausible. And yet the explanation of this innocent motorist having been unexpectedly caught up in a prank by a local fireman does seem extremely compelling.


Is it possible that the figure he thought he saw passing right through the metal fence was in fact using a hidden side gate? And that the reason the site authorities were quick to dismiss the police was due to their embarrassment over their staff having perpetrated such a childish prank?

It is possible that in years to come, key evidence could yet be forthcoming in relation to the silver man of Risley. There may still be confidential reports awaiting declassification which either support or contradict the testimony of Kenneth Edwards. Until that time, the encounter will remain a complete mystery.


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