THE 50th anniversary of the moon landings reminded Bolton pensioner Brian Wignall of a gift his uncle bequeathed him that was literally out of this world.

And all these years later, Mr Wignall treasures the extremely rare set of Nasa photographs of the historic occasion.

“During World War Two my Auntie Margaret met my Uncle Al who was a GI based at Burtonwood,” said Mr Wignall, who lives in Smithills.

“They fell in love, got married and Auntie Margaret emigrated to live with him in Texas.

“Al was in the American Air Force and stayed on when NASA took it over. He headed a tracking station - supposedly working with weather satellites - but in reality it was an early warning missile station because it was the height of Cold War.

“When the Apollo 11 moon landing project happened, everyone in Nasa who was involved in tracking and satellites was drafted on to the project because it was so important.

In gratitude for Uncle Al’s assistance, Nasa presented him with a set of original photographs of the landings, believed to be one of just ten sets in existence.

Auntie Margaret also had a privileged position in American history as she ended up being President Johnson’s personal assistant.

“I remember seeing the photographs for the first time. I thought they were amazing, they’re still amazing now,” he said.

It also gave him a certain kudos at school.

“As a schoolboy, we had to give two minute speeches for English. All my mates talked about things like fishing and model aeroplanes, but thanks to Uncle Al, who sent me lots of inside stuff about Project Gemini - the first attempted moon landing project - I was able to talk about that.”

The set of moon landing photographs consisted of 20 photographs in total. Mr Wignall got ten and his cousin got the other half.

In the Looking Back section of next Wednesday’s Bolton News we will be publishing a great selection of them.