Paranormal researcher PATSY SORENTI recalls the true life haunting in her childhood home in Brentford, London during the 1960s
What I am about to write is a true story. It happened to my family and I during the mid-1960s.
I was born in March 1960. My parents moved to a council house in Brentford in late 1960 and my brother was born there in July 1962. We had to leave the house where I was born; it was a huge townhouse on the banks of the Grand Union Canal on Brentford Bridge. It used to be a former lightermen’s house and dated from 1839. It was rather grand inside with highly polished floors, a scullery and a cellar. It was overrun with rats too. We moved out because of the rats and the landlord not wanting babies in the house.
Our new house had two bedrooms. A small hallway connected the sitting room and kitchen. The bathroom was off this hallway and the stairs ran up the middle leading to a tiny landing where there was a window looking out over the rear garden. An alleyway ran between our house and next door. All rooms were very large. The house was built in the 1930’s during the mass development of former farms and market gardens, which were the previous occupants on the site.
The strange happenings began when my brother was four years old. At first it was rather nondescript: small objects would fall from the air on to us: pennies, pencils, odd medals that nobody could recognise. It was as if ‘something’ was making us aware of its presence. Other times, objects would appear from nowhere and kitchen utensils would find themselves in bedroom cupboards. Mum blamed dad and dad blamed us kids. Then my brother started to have bad dreams. This would occur every so often, maybe once or twice a month. He would wake up crying and saying, ‘I saw the dustman again. He came from the cupboard!’ (A built-in cupboard was next to his bed.)
In the mornings, I would ask him who ‘the dustman’ was and what he looked like. My brother told me that ‘the dustman is dressed in red with an old-fashioned jacket and boots and trousers that came only to his knees.’ Apparently, this wraith would always appear from the direction of the cupboard, bend over my brother in bed and walk to the opposite wall where there was an old gas fireplace and disappear through the wall. So frightened was he that he made sure that he slept with a plastic dagger from an ‘Action Man’ set, and he also made sure that mum knew he had it so that if the ‘dustman’ came again, he would stab him. This was very real to my brother and why he would crawl into my bed. Fed up with these nocturnal disturbances, we kids were moved into the other bedroom and our parents occupied the ‘haunted’ room. If they ever saw the ‘dustman’ they never told us. However, mum told me that after moving us, she would hear me walking around the house at night and would guide me back to bed. On one occasion, she woke up to find me trying to open the landing window and attempting to climb out. Many times, I would wake in the morning and find myself lying on top of the bed, unaware of my night-time ramblings.
This house had a very ‘strange’ feel about it; nothing I could really say why it had, but the atmosphere had an unwanted effect on us all: it was heavy and suffocating and our parents would row a lot. Dad had many nosebleeds. Eventually we moved from the dwelling in April 1970 and our lives were very much normal after that.
It was only when I became a paranormal researcher and investigator that I decided to investigate this case. My research has revealed that there were several houses on the estate, which were plagued by ghosts. One notable case was the ghosts of an elderly couple, dressed in the same fashion as the ‘dustman’ who were terrifying a single lady. She twice requested the services of a medium to help but to no avail: the house remains haunted. Evidence points to the ghosts of former farm workers who were displaced when the ground was acquired for building and the feelings of resentment was palpable. Some of these old farm hands are buried in the churchyard of All Saints Isleworth, which is itself haunted. I met the woman who moved into our former home just recently and enquired if she has experienced anything strange. ‘No’, she confidently declared, ‘I have been happy here for over 40 years!’
I exhumed ‘the dustman’ story with my brother last month. Not only does he remember it vividly with a shudder, but he has asked me never to raise the subject again.