Was The Byron Street Thing A Poltergeist?


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Unknown forces terrorising a Byron Street Runcorn family in the 1950s were as scary as any better-known poltergeist case, says RICK HALE

The house in Byron Street, Runcorn, were the paranormal activity happened
The house in Byron Street, Runcorn, were the paranormal activity happened

According to psychical researchers, there are two classic cases by which all poltergeist cases are measured.

The first in 1966, when the Pritchard family in Pontefract were subjected to the terror of the poltergeist known as, the black monk.

And the second being the supernatural ordeal the Hodgson family was forced to endure in Enfield in 1977.

As far as poltergeist cases are concerned, these two are nothing short of classics and have been written about dozens of times.

Nevertheless, there is a third British poltergeist case just as bizarre and frightening as the aforementioned two.

This lesser known case had a curious feature the other two lacked, the poltergeist may have been responsible for the death of a person.

The strange events that happened in a house on Byron Street in Runcorn in Cheshire, deserves far more study than it gets.

Just A Normal Guy

In August 1952, 17 year old John Glynn Jones was an apprentice draftsman living with his family in a humble house on Byron Street.

John was known as a friendly, yet serious, young man who generally avoided any kind trouble. 

By all accounts, he was as normal as normal could be. 

All that changed, when he and his family were thrust into a series of supernatural events they were ill-equipped to deal with.

The Thing Arrives

The inexplicable events began when John was forced to share his bed with his elderly grandfather.

Immediately after retiring for the night, the disturbances began.

A peculiar noise that sounded like someone tapping issued from the dressing table.

When John’s grandfather accused him of playing games, the table began to violently shake and banged against the wall.

Everyone present fled the room not understanding what was going on. The only thing they were certain of, sleep was no longer a consideration.

The following night proved to be far worse.  Once again, as everyone tried to sleep, the dresser drawers flew open and slammed shut.

And then the bedclothes were torn away from the bed and tossed about the room.

Everyone looked to John as a culprit and even went so far as sitting atop the young man in the event he was playing a prank.

When the activity continued, the family became convinced that something supernatural might just be in their midst.

The Poltergeist Goes Public

Despite their best efforts in keeping outsiders out of this bizarre business, the stories filtered out into the community.

The Runcorn Guardian ran a series of stories documenting the rage of the poltergeist as it unfolded.

Citizens of Runcorn lined up outside the home hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever spirit haunted the house.

The story became a national and international sensation with advice coming from as far away as Germany on how to deal with the poltergeist.

Progress and Aggression

As the days passed, the activity became progressively aggressive.

Three police officers who came to investigate were violently thrown from a chest they sat upon.

Whatever this thing was appeared to target John Glynn Jones with its wrath.

Not a night would go by where John was dragged from his bed and viciously thrown to the ground.

Household items were tossed at the young man.  Eventually despair set in and the family began to lose hope that anyone could help them.

Help Arrives

In September, a spiritualist medium showed up on the doorstep, Mr Francis.

Francis believed he could communicate with the ghost and convince it to stop terrorising John and his family.

Sadly, Mr. Francis’ efforts only managed to make matters worse.

Within moments of starting the seance, the poltergeist took its displeasure out on the medium and the Jones clan.

Two Bibles, a photo album and a bottle of ointment flew around the room and crashed against the wall.

It was at this time real help arrived from London.

The SPR Offers Its Help

Reverend WH Stevens, a Methodist minister, was dispatched by London’s Society For Psychical Research.

He had heard about the events in the Runcorn home and believed his years of experience would be an invaluable help.

Upon entering the home, the poltergeist greeted the seasoned investigator by throwing a dictionary at the back of his head.

Stevens knew exactly what was going on in the home and knew how to deal with it.

He explained the activity was not caused by some vengeful wraith but rather a poltergeist.

Stevens went on by saying young John was unwittingly causing the out of control psychic activity due to his frustrations from joining the military.

John was also finding it difficult making the transition from being a child to adulthood.

When John Glynn Jones finally left for the military, the violent psychic force abruptly ceased.

With the poltergeist gone, it was estimated the damage it caused was somewhere in the balllpark of £20,000.

And it’s also believed the poltergeist may have been responsible for the death of Mrs Whittle.

When her body was discovered at the bottom of Runcorn Hill, it was recalled she had angered the poltergeist. Of course, this can never be proven.

The activity that came to be known as the Byron Street Thing is perhaps one of the most violent poltergeists on record.

Even if it didn’t cause the death of the elderly Mrs Whittle, it destroyed property and frayed nerves the people of Runcorn will never forget.

What do you think happened at Byron Street? Tell us in the comments section below!


  1. We are from nearby Widnes and I remember my dad telling me about this. Yes it was big news at the time and still talked about in the area years later.

  2. I have the notes written by the later editor of the Runcorn Guardian relating to the happenings at Byron – the journalist was Mr Peter P. Francis. The medium who came was Mr P. France.

  3. My dad lived at 9 Byron at in the 80s.it was often talked about by local kids.played knock a door run plenty of times trying to get a reaction.thankfully we didnt

  4. The 17 year old was John Glynn, also Samuel Jones who was the grandfather of John Glynn married Lydia Dodd in 1910. Her parents John and Elizabeth Dodd (nee Littler) resided at No. 1, Byron Street, Runcorn in 1911.

  5. My grandad was a window cleaner and used to clean the windows of this house. Not sure if he saw anything but I’ve heard relatives say he may have


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