EDDIE BRAZIL digs deep to discover the Northfleet Horror, where a poltergeist terrorised three Kent families
An inexplicable and terrifying case of haunting took place in 1962 in the town of Northfleet, 20 miles south east of London.
Twenty-eight-year-old Sidney Maxted and his Wife, together with their children, Kevin, 6, Linda, 4, and baby Clair, moved into 16 Waterdales.
Waterdales is an extremely long thoroughfare consisting of 1930s built semidetached houses.
Prior to the family taking up residence, the house had no history of paranormal activity, and over the years many tenants had lived there in relative peace.
During their tenancy Mrs Maxted gradually became more concerned about the noises she heard during the day time which came from the bedroom which was situated over the living room. The sounds seemed to be footsteps pacing to and fro across the floor. Mr Maxted also heard the footsteps and found them difficult to explain.
However, the sounds in the bedroom became a real source of unease to Mrs Maxted, and to set her mind at rest, her husband offered her the explanation that the footsteps must be coming from their neighbour’s house, number 14. One of the bedrooms of the adjoining house is over the entranced hall to the Maxted home.
The sounds they could hear were somehow being transmitted along the floorboards so that a person walking in the bedroom of number 14 would be heard in the large bedroom of number 16.
Although Mrs Maxted fears were temporarily calmed, her anxiety remained.
Sometime later events took on a particularly sinister nature when the Maxted Children began to complain of the scratching noises which came from under their beds,and of the bedcovers being yanked away, and of themselves being mysteriously pulled or struck at by invisible hands. As the phenomena increased and the children became more distressed the parents were forced to have them sleep in their room.
In February 1965 matters came to a head. One night about 2am, Mrs Maxted went to attend to baby Clair. On returning to bed she looked across to the door and was surprised to see a figure in the form of a young child enter the room. Mrs Maxted, thinking it was her six-year-old daughter, responded automatically, and exclaimed “Linda”.
The form moved across the room and advanced towards her. As it approached it grew in height, until it had become a tall figure which bent menacingly over the bed. Mrs Maxteds terrified screams awoke her husband, and the apparition vanished. The harrowing experience proved too much for the family, and the next day they left the house.
New tenants, same haunting at 16 Waterdales
Soon after the Maxteds vacated 16 Waterdales, Northfleet council allocated the property to 25-year-old Eric Essex, who moved in with his wife Margaret and their baby. Mr Essex had been made aware of the strange occurrences which had taken place within the house. However, his need to provide a comfortable and secure home for his family was paramount despite the rumours of ghostly happenings.
Nonetheless, the Essex family were soon to experience the sound of disembodied footsteps within their new home. One afternoon Mrs Essex was sitting with her mother in the living room when they both heard footsteps, and the sound of furniture being moved coming from the bedroom above.
They called to Eric Essex, who at the time was in the garden, and all three rushed up stairs but found no intruder. It would have been impossible for anyone making the noises to have escaped from the house undetected.
In August 1966, events reach a climax curiously similar to the finale of the Maxted tenancy. About 2am, Eric Essex was awakened by the sound of footsteps moving about the stairs and hall.
Getting out of bed he inspected the landing and the rooms below but found them empty. He returned to bed and became aware of a whistling sound in his ears. It was then that he realised that the bed was vibrating, or shaking, and that one end of it was being lifted up. Wandering what on earth was happening he sat up and looked to his side. To his horror there stood a figure in the form of a woman whose dress came down to the floor. The apparition was glowing with a pinkish-orange luminance, but what made Mr Essex recoil with terror was that it was headless.
As with the Maxteds, the Essex Family hurriedly vacated the house next morning vowing never to return. Eric Essex was later to say that the encounter was absolutely terrifying, and one he never again wanted to experience.
The house now remained empty until another tenant could be allocated the property. Yet strange sounds were still heard emanating from within.
Strange sounds still emanate from house
Mrs Margaret Harrison who had been resident at number 14 Waterdales for about three months regularly heard the sound of hefty footsteps ascending the stairs at all hours.
One night when she was alone in the house whilst her husband was away on business she had the unnerving experience of hearing a heavy, booming, thudding sound as if some massive object was bouncing down the stairs. It seemed whatever was ever making the noise reached the bottom of the landing and then bounced violently up to the hall ceiling which was the underside of Mrs Harrison’s bedroom.
There was a powerful thud under her bed, which then transformed itself in to a scraping or scratching sound. The noise seemed to be emanating from across the whole floor and grew in volume as if something below was trying to claw its way up and in to the bedroom. The experience proved too frightening for Mrs Harrison, and she and her husband left the house.
What was happening with the Northfleet Horror?
The haunting of 16 Waterdales is indeed a puzzling case. It conforms in many respects to phenomena associated with a typical poltergeist haunting in as much that a house is undisturbed until a person, usually a repressed teenager, who becomes the focus or living agent for paranormal incidents to occur moves in. When the person leaves, the house once again becomes normal.
Now it might be that by chance there was a poltergeist individual in the Maxted family and another in the Essex family. Coincidence might stretch also to Mrs Harrison who was physically so near to number 16 that she too could have become a focus of poltergeist activity. But the probability of such an extended coincidence seems improbable.
Was the house therefore, for a four year period, haunted by an evil spirit intent on frightening and harming those families who had the misfortune to experience its malevolent intent?