Posts Tagged ‘Lancashire’

Birkdale, Southport is in my home county of Lancashire and once had a luxury hotel that opened in 1866, was then demolished in 1969. During the Second World War it was used for US airmen as a rehabilitation centre, for that stage of it’s existence it was used as a film location.

It entered the interest for paranormal enthusiasts when a report came up 6th May, 1969 in the Southport Visitor. A group of demolition workers claimed that the lift at the Old Palace Hotel was haunted. Jos Smith was heading up the demolition team and said that they had been woken up there by eerie voices and strange noises at night, and even more frightening the lift began to work by itself.

The lift’s power had been cut, the brakes were on and yet the four ton metal box continued to go up and down as it did when the building was operational. It was enough to unnerve hard workmen, worried by the lifts working they disabled it and cut the ties, they were then more concerned because it did not drop as it should have. In the end they hammered it on until it finally tell from the third floor.

The workmen had heard voices, the sounds of arguments and footsteps, they didn’t rule out that it could be down to people breaking in, but it would no doubt have been strange to hear. Southport Police also arrived one night as they’d received a call from a woman saying she was trapped inside. The police arrived to find that the phone-lines had been cut a significant time before then.

An urban legend about a ghost also came from the hotel, Ursula Wall was the architect and it is said she was on holiday when the foundations were laid back to front and therefore the hotel. Having seen the error she was so distraught she committed suicide, leaping down the lift shaft. It is however one of a few legends around her death and so not really confirmed.

There are other stories linked to the building, in 1961 Amanda Jane Graham was abducted by a hotel porter. The 6-year-old was murdered and found under his bed at the hotel. There is a rumour too about two sisters who carried out a suicide pact, and 14 deceased lifeboat men were temporarily laid out in its coach house. All these stories helped add to the haunted rumours.

The only surviving part id the coach house were the lifeboat men had been laid out to rest. The pub (as it now is) is called Fisherman’s Rest in their memory. It is also reportedly haunted and people have said that they feel as though they are being watched.

9th December, 1886, a sailing ship, Mexico was driven ashore and the bodies of their fellow crewmen were viewed at the pub by the jury. Now the lost men are touchingly recalled by 14 small brass mermaids that hold the bar handrail in place.

1866, Palace Hotel, Southport. North-East View From Birkdale Park.png
By JonmaddoxukOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

 

Lancashire is an area with a pleasure beach, theme park full of rides. The Blackpool Pleasure Beach is also one with a ghost train, and a ghost.

In 1936 the park opened its spooky ride but the name later changed to Ghost Train, and seemingly was the first one to do so.

A dedicated member of staff was known as Cloggy, he tended the ride meticulously and seemingly passed away from some dire illness. Cloggy appears to have been so dedicated that he continued with his passion after his death.

Ride visitors spoke about having been touched on the ride, complaints about this and being grabbed by invisible hands  were made and passengers were informed that this was not a part of the ride.

On one occasion it was noted that maintenance were repairing the ride and had heard strange sounds. They had heard groans and mystery footsteps. They came to the time to shut down, and as per the procedure they turned off the electrics. When this happened and they headed off they noticed that a skull was still illuminated on the top of the building.

 

I went to visit recently (September 2014) and did not spot or hear any ghosts… but I did snap this on my way around!

The maintenance creDSCN7256w spent an hour trying to resolve the situation they couldn’t work out how it was lit. In the end they left baffled and unnerved.

7.50 am 21st December 1910, there was an underground explosion at the Hulton Bank Colliery No 3, in Lancashire. Lancashire is the North West of England and the place I call home (see my Pendle Post for more intriguing tales!)

On the day of the explosion there were around 900 workers on the site of five coal seams. 345 of those workers went to pit shaft three to work, four of those survived, one died immediately and one the next day. The two survivors from that were Joseph Stavely and William Davenport. One man died in the Arley Mine at pit 4 and a rescuer died in pit 3. This meant there were 344 fatalities from the disaster.

Which also leads into the reason I picked this one, Platt Lane in Westhoughton, Lancashire. The road passes close to where the miners died. Reports have come in that says that there are eyes in the hedges, miners walking along the road and an eerie mist that comes down even on the sunniest of days. There are however reports before the disaster that stated the noises of running horses would pass alongside people.

A short film on this can be located here – Link

There are reports of other haunted Colliers too.

Just across in the County of Yorkshire the Barnsley area suffered nine deaths in the 1850’s. The reports of their sightings continued until the 20th Century as the mine continued to be in operation.

Also in Yorkshire, Maltby had a report that two lads walking around the local quarry found a half-naked man drinking from a bottle of cider. The figure disappeared into the shaft, and one of the witnesses later learnt that a former miner with a drinking problem had been found dead in the area, at the slurry pit.

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, has a slightly different legend around its pits. A tin mine shaft was named Roaring Shaft as bangs and thuds were heard from it. Not placing the matter in the hands of ghosts the noises were given to be made by Kobolds or Bucca.

Castleton in Derby had another problem in their pits; Odin Mine was supposedly traversed by Shuck. This phantom black hound might well have come in to play as the hunting hounds linked to the name of the Mine’s Norse god, Odin. Shuck appears to like travelling as he has also been reported at Matlock Bath area in Derbyshire too.

Down the road we used to have Cotgrave Colliery in Nottingham, around 1987 there was a report of a man dressed in black wearing a helmet who walked through the wall. The miner/stranger was said to have no face. Unfortunately the Colliery no longer stands and I haven’t found any other notes about it. Correct me if you have!

I learnt about the Pendle Witches when I was young, the trials took place in 1612 and because I am from Lancashire it was something we were told about. However it wasn’t until I got older I began to find more interest in it.

There were in total twelve accused who lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, they were charged with the murder of ten people by the use of witchcraft. Two were tried at Lancaster Assizes, one was tried at York and another died in prison. Of the eleven that went on trial tend of them were found guilty and executed by hanging.

The trials were particularly unusual at the time due to the number of those hung at once, and during the early 15th and 18th Centuries when trials of witchcraft were a feature fewer then 500 in total were executed.

Six of the witches came from the same two families, Elizabeth Southerns (Aka Demdike), her daughter Elizabeth Device, her grandchildren James and Alizon Devic; Anne Whittle (aka Chattox) and her daughter Anne Redferne. The others accused were Jane Bulcock and her son John, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, Alice Gray and Jennet Preston.

Pendle Hill makes for a beautiful backdrop of scenery, the accused lived around the area which at the time was well regarded as a pretty lawless land – “fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity, where the church was honoured without much understanding of its doctrines by the common people”.

Henry VIII had dissolved the local Abbey at Whalley leaving them with no church influence until the Roman Catholic rise in 1553 with Mary’s views leading the way, after this Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 and Catholic Priests were forced into hiding. In remote areas like Pendle they did continue to practise their Mass in secret.

In early 1612 every Justice of the Peace in Lancashire was ordered to compile a list of anyont that refused to attend English church, take communion or had committed a criminal offence at that time. Roger Nowell, Read Hall on the edge of Pendle Forest was the Justice of the Peace at that time. During this he investigated a case brought to him by the family of John Law, a pedlar who stated he had been injured by Witchcraft.

Demdike herself had been regarded as a witch for around 50 years and some of the deaths the witches were accused of had come to play before Nowell even took his interest but the event of the Pedlar, John Law, seems to have triggered the events that led up to the trial. Alizon Device had asked the pedlar for some pins, Law was reluctant perhaps as they were known to be useful in their magic. Not long adter Law’s son saw him fall, (probably a stroke given his age), he managed to stumble up and get ot an inn. Alizon seemingly convinced of her own powers then confessed and asked for his forgiveness.

Alizon, her mother and brother were summoned before Nowell and Alizon confessed to selling her soul to the Devil, she states she told him to lame Law and her brother also stated her sister had bewitched a local child. Elizabeth was not as forthcoming but revealerd her mother, Demdike, had a mark on her body where the devil had sucked on her blood.

When questioned about Chattox it seems that Alizon had a chance for revenge, there is a suggestion in the evidence that this bad blood may go back to sometime around 1601. A member of the Chattoz family broke into the Malkin Tower (stealing around a £100 worth of goods). Now having been questioned it meant that Alizon accused Chattox of murdering four men by witchcraft and that her father was so frightened of Chattox he had paid 8 pounds of oatmeal per year to prevent any attacks. The oatmeal had been handed over yearly until the one before John’s death and on his deathbed he had told them it was Chattox that caused it and why.

Nowell summoned the other family, Demdike and Chattox were both blind and in their eighties but still came to bring him many damaging confessions. Chattox said 20 years before the event she had given her soul to something to get revent and would lack for nothing. Anne did not confess but Demdike said she had made clay figures. Another witness blamed her brothers illness on Anne Redferne over a disagreement.

This would probably have been the end when half of them were dragged away to the assizes but then a meeting was arranged by Elizabeth Device at the Malkin Tower (home of the Demdikes) was held. James Device stole a neighbour’s sheep, word of the party reached Nowell. Nowell and another magistrate, Nicholas Bannister, wanted to determine what had happened. As a result of their inquiry eight more were accused of the crime. Elizabeth, James, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, John and Jane Bulcock, Alice Gray and Jennet Preston. Jennet lived across the border and was sent to York for trial. The rest went to join the first four at Lancaster Goal.

Malkin Tower is believed to have been near Newchurch in Pendle and was demolished soon after the trials. In December 2011 Water Engineers unearthed a 17th Century cottage with a mummified cat in the walls that might well have been the Malkin Tower.

Some of the accused seem to have believed in their guilt, like Alizon but others protested their innocence to the end. Everyone but Elizabeth Southerns died by hanging but she died waiting for trial, Alice Grey however was found not guilty.

Jennet Preston herself was tried and pleaded not guilty but had appeared a year before Judge Bromley accused of murdering a child by witchcraft. The damning evidence then came in the form of her going to see Lister’s body who bled in front of them as she turned up. She was found guilty and hanged.

The prosecutor was Roger Nowell (I am sure you can see where this is going!) and the judges were Altham and Bromley. Nione year old Jennet Device was a witness which was not permitted in many trials, but Kind James has allowed it in the case of witchcraft. Everyone was once again brought forward to give their evidence. Chattox broke down in tears of confession about the murder of Robert Nutter and called on God to be merciful to her daughter Anne Redferne.

Elizabeth was charged with the murders of James and John Robinson, alongside this of working with Alice Nutter and Demdike in order to murder Henry Mitton. It also wasn’t like to help the case she had a deformity that meant her left eye was set lower than her right. Jennet accused her mother and shouted and yelled, she also said that her mother had a familiar called Ball who was a brown dog. Ball had been the one sent out to help with various murders. Elizabeth was also found guilty.

James Device tried to sell out his mother, and then protest his innocence against the crime of murdering both Anne Townley and John Duckworth. He however had made an earlier confession to Nowell that was read out, Jennet then said that her brother talked to a black dog, he was found guilty.

On the same day that Anne Redferne was tried so were the three Samlesbury Witches, the evidence of her involvement with the murder of Robert Nutter was insufficient and Anne was the one that got away. The second day however she was not so lucky, she refuted her guilt during the second trial about Robert Nutter but in the end she too was brought to the gallows.

Jane and her son, John Bulcock from Newchurch in Pendle were both accused of despatching Jennet Deane and denied being at the meeting at Malkin Tower. Yet again little Jennet came through and identified them saying John had roasted the stolen sheep for the Good Friday meeting. Guilty as charged.

Alice Nutter was a comparitively wealthy woman who made no statement before or during her trial, she merely submitted not guilty. Mitton’s death was supposedly caused by her, Demdike and Elizabeth Device. The only evidence given was by James Device saying that Demdike had told him about it. Alice may have been at the Malkin Tower on her way to an illegal Catholic meeting but if she wanted to use the meeting to say she wasn’t there she didnn’t to avoid incriminating the other’s at that meeting. Alice was found guilty.

Katherine Hewitt was charged and found guilty of the murder of Anne Foulds, she was the wife of a Clother from Colne, she had attended the meeting at the Tower with Alice Grey and according to James Device both Hewitt and Grey said they had killed a child from Colne. Jennet again (aren’t her and Hames so lovely?) confirmed her presence at the meeting. Alice Grey managed to escape the guilty plea.

Alizon Device, who started the whole thing via the John Law encounter was charged with causing harm by witchcraft. She was uniquely accused by her victim directly and seems to have believed in her own guilt. She broke down and confessed, another one for the guilty pile.

Should you like a very interesting (but quite heavy going) read about this in the form of a great novel, I would highly recommend Robert Neill’s book Mist Over Pendle which I read so many times I’ve now had to go and get a second copy. Oh what a shame a drive out towards my birth place!

The report came from a place near Preston, Lancashire. A husband and wife moved into the property and neither had any particular interest in the paranormal. They were later to find out that the longest anyone had stayed in the property was three and a half years. They did not stay long either.

Shortly after moving in the wife spotted a a shadow move across the kitchen window as she was washing up, she looked up to see a young man in old corduroy trousers, dirty grey jacket and muddy heavy shoes. She thought he was a local youth and watched him go through towards a short cut via a hedge. She went out to see him and ask what he was doing but was unable to find any trace of him.

The incident repeated itself many times and on a couple of occasions he walked towards the door but never knocked on it, then turned around and walked to the bottom of the garden. He always seemed to follow the same routes which leads to the idea that he may well have been on a replay, some kind of imprint on the area that continues like a recording with no interaction involved.

She did not mention it to the children, her husband seemed understanding but he remained sceptical. One afternoon her parents came to visit, as they got out of the car they witnessed the young man too. They too followed but could not find him, inside the rest of the family had coffee and chatted. The wife’s mother then asked where their visitor was, but she explained that there was no one else. They described the same boy and although she was glad it was not just her imagination she was very worried by the knowledge it was a ghost.

Months passed and nothing happened, he was all but forgotten but a year later she saw him again. Three days later she was with her parents in the back of the house and they saw him again. This time her mother shouted at the young man but they got no response. They also came to the conclusion that the times they had seen him were in October.

Her husband then requested for an investigation, before the bungalow had been built there was a farm, there were still some fields at the back. The route of he land corresponded to where  a path had once existed.

The couple that had lived on the farm had tried to get their son to study hard rather than to be stuck working the land. He had got a place at university but he had become troubled and would often walk around with this head down, seemingly working out some decision. His parents had been unable to help him through is isolation and they hoped he could work out the problem for himself. Unfortunately he never had recovered one afternoon in October he threw himself into a pond and drowned.