I conduct on a regular basis ghost walks in Lancashire Yorkshire and Cumbria. Over the years I have developed not only a passion for ghost stories, but also a huge battery of information relating to the world of ghosts.
I find the best way to pick up ghost stories is not by just reading about them, but meeting eye witnesses. I had a meeting in 1996 with a Great Harwood resident called John. His story will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
In 1968 John worked at the Prestige cookware factory at Burnley. He regularly worked overtime, especially around the Christmas period. On Christmas Eve 1968 he was the last person to clock of at the factory, and drove home through the village of Read. His journey took him on to a stretch of road aptly named the Devil’s Elbow, a very nasty hairpin bend and scene of many an accident.
The weather conditions were not pleasant; high winds and rain lashed his windscreen. As he entered the Elbow, he noticed a motorbike on its side. On the pavement, by the bike, was a person in motorbike leathers with crash helmet with the visor down. This person was holding a plastic petrol container in his or her hand. John slowed down and wound his window down and shouted: “Are you OK, pal? Do you need some petrol? I can take you to the station at Whalley for fuel.”
The leather-clad rider just nodded.
“Right, get in. I will give you a lift.” John opened the passenger door and the motorcyclist sat in the passenger seat. John looked in his rear view mirror to manoeuvre on to the centre of the road and set off to nearby Whalley to the petrol station. He tried to get a conversation going with his passenger, but the only response to his questions was a nod. The rider did not take his helmet off or indeed lift his visor. Suddenly the petrol station at Whalley came into view, and John said: “Right mate, we’re here.”
John glanced to his left and suddenly noticed that the passenger seat was empty.
My personal favourite ghost story came from my father. He was an ardent Christian and would never lie. Because of this, this next story is quite fascinating.
Way back in 1960 my dad Ian was successful in getting a job with provincial insurance in Kendal, Westmorland, as a personnel officer, He purchased a very elegant 1898 house on the outskirts of the town, a place called Greenside. I was five years old at the time my brother nine and sister three.
My dad was concerned about the long journey and on arriving he made up our beds and as young children we fell into a deep sleep in our new home.
My father had no idea but that first night he was going to witness something very paranormal. After unloading the many tea chests, he made up his and mum’s bed. He fell into a deep exhausted sleep. Bright moonlight was entering the bedroom. Suddenly, he heard soft footsteps. To his horror the bedroom door slowly opened, and in came a liver and white cocker spaniel. The dog made
its way to the corner of the room, its tail wagging and its panting clear.
My father’s instinct was to get out of bed and take the dog to the door and send it on its way. To his deep shock as he tried to touch the dog his hand went straight through it. He attempted for the
second time, and his hand again went through the creature.
Suddenly the dog looked to the left as if its name was being called and totally disappeared.
My mother had been in a deep sleep and woke up with a jolt. She noticed my dad sitting on the end of the bed in a dazed and shocked state. “What’s wrong?” she said.
My dad told her the story. Mother said “That is so strange. I have just had a dream that there was a man in Victorian clothing looking up at our bedroom window with a dog lead in his hand.”
The old West Riding of Yorkshire is a hotbed of ghost stories, one being the Punch Bowl Inn at Hurst Green, now sadly closed.
Way back in 1639, Essex man Ned King used this as a base to hold up coaches. He got on very well with the landlord Johnny Briscoe, and between them they held up 14 coaches from 1639-41. But
all good things come to an end when the Redcoats surrounded the Punch Bowl, and the West Riding had its own version of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
After a three hourlong battle the bandits were captured, but they had killed three Redcoats, and thelieutenant, furious at losing his men, had Briscoe and King hung on a huge oak tree in front of the inn and then buried by the roadside.
Their ghosts have been given huge tourism status, and much TV and radio coverage over the years has turned them both into celebrities. The old Punch Bowl has closed for the last time, but they say the sound of Ned King on his horse can still be heard racing down those West Riding lanes.