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See you around? The controversial Flat Earth premises in Greig Street, Inverness, near the River Ness, may have drawn its shutters for the last time


By Alasdair Fraser

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Flat Earth premises in Greig St, Inverness
Flat Earth premises in Greig St, Inverness

An Inverness headquarters for conspiracy theorists who claim the earth is flat appears to have closed.

The Flat Earth shopfront on the city’s Greig Street, near the River Ness, became notorious for outlandish claims and unscientific theories after opening in February 2018.

In the last fortnight, the once-busy premises’ shutters have remained down, with the literature that became a permanent fixture on its glass windows removed.

The posters and leaflets called into question earth's curvature, orbital movement and forces of gravity and claimed the US space agency NASA was a major player behind the "hoax".

The organisation also suggested aeroplane vapour trails were actually “chem-trails” sprayed on the civilian population as part of a secret government campaign.

After the pandemic began, the shopfront carried the banner “humanity is not a virus” and pushed anti-vaccination messages, also claiming the virus and lockdown was fake and a means to terrorise the masses.

It was not known who was funding the rental of the premises.

The Courier has so far been unable to contact Richard Birkett, one of the main organisers at the premises, to clarify whether it is to re-open or remain permanently closed.

One business owner operating nearby on the street said: “At certain times in the last few years, The Flat Earth shop could be pretty busy.

“It attracted a lot of curious folk, tourists, or people just bemused or laughing at the notices on the window.

As it looked until recently, The Flat Earth premises in Greig St, Inverness
As it looked until recently, The Flat Earth premises in Greig St, Inverness

“But it also had its regular followers who seemed to buy into and embrace their ideas.

“They were never any trouble, and always friendly enough on the rare occasion I spoke to them.”

A resident living near the store, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “Up until about two weeks ago, it seemed like business as usual in the shop, but then we noticed they were shut.

"Everyone was always intrigued as to who could be paying rent for the premises, as it certainly couldn’t have been cheap.

“They had couches inside, and games like chess, and they had a lot of gatherings. Even school kids would go in sometimes. They had a TV and kitchen as well.”

The flat earth movement, as it is known today, has origins in the 19th century, but The Flat Earth Society was set up by Samuel Shenton in 1956 in the English town of Dover and remains active today.

Two millennia of scientific consensus has it that the earth is spherical.

Related story: Flat Earth group posts a number of coronavirus theories in its Inverness window


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