Apparitions associated with transport links are more common than might be thought, says ANDREW HOMER. Here are 30 such hauntings from the West Midlands area covering road, rail and waterway ghosts.
Billy Pitt, Bridgnorth Road, Enville, DY7 5HA
An old tramp, Billy Pitt, collapsed in the snow one bitter cold night in mid-winter. The howling of Billy’s dog brought a group of drunks out of the nearby Cat Inn to see what was going on. They dragged Billy into the pub and revived him by the fire. Thinking to have some sport with the old vagrant they plied him with strong drink until ordered out of the pub by the landlord at closing time. The drunken rabble locked poor old Billy in the stocks and strangled his dog nearby to silence his howling. The following morning the bodies of both Billy and his dog were found to be frozen solid in the snow. Since then, the ghosts of both Billy and his haunt the road around The Cat Inn. The chilling howl of the dog is heard to split the night air and a spectral figure has been seen crossing the main Bridgnorth Road, seemingly oblivious to the presence of modern day traffic.
Bridgnorth Railway Station, Hollybush Road, Bridgnorth, WV16 4AX
Railway passengers on Platform 1 have sometimes complimented staff on how authentic the costumed characters look outside the Railwayman’s Arms. Authentic they certainly are as this has happened when there haven’t been any costumed volunteers or visitors apart from uniformed railway staff anywhere on the station. During World War 2, a soldier on guard duty outside the now disused Bridgnorth railway tunnel was startled by a figure which emerged from the tunnel only to promptly disappear right in front of him. A railwayman carrying tools has also been seen around the Bewdley tunnel. At first he appears to be perfectly normal except he is not wearing the now mandatory high visibility safety jacket. He too disappears without trace before trackside staff can warn him of any danger.
Canal Street, Stourbridge, DY8 4LU
The Bonded Warehouse is a canal side building dating back to 1799. Goods delivered by canal barge would have been stored here awaiting excise duty to be paid. The ghost of an old man is seen in and around this building. Witnesses describe him as having the appearing of an old bargee perhaps left over from the days when the Stourbridge Town Arm Canal was busy with working boats. The ghost of a young girl has also been fleetingly seen but only on the top floor of the Grade 2 listed building.
Captain Kitson, Stourbridge Road, DY7 6NY
The stretch of road between the The Manor House of Whittington Inn and the traffic lights at Stourton on the A449 is haunted by the ghost of a notorious highwayman in a tricorn hat. There have been a number of sightings of Captain Kitson astride his horse galloping hell-for-leather across the road in front of astounded motorists. One such witness to the phantom highwayman was a nurse making her way back home in the early hours of the morning after a late shift. She was forced to swerve as Captain Kitson suddenly appeared riding across the fields next to the road and galloped straight in front of her car.
Civil War Soldiers, Moseley Old Hall Lane, Featherstone, WV10 7HY
Moseley Old Hall was one of the places that hid Charles II after the ill-fated battle of Worcester in 1651. The lane outside the hall is haunted by the ghosts of soldiers returning from the battle. They have been experienced by people both walking and driving along the narrow lane. The hall itself has a secret chapel upstairs which has a strange atmosphere and is haunted by a lady in period dress. One of the hall guides witnessed the heavily weighted chains on the clock in the King’s room being moved by unseen hands during a regular tour. On the same tour the door to the nearby Whitgreaves Room opened and closed by itself. Outside as she stood in the corridor the same tour guide had the unnerving experience of feeling an entity pass straight through her.
Drakelow Lane, Kinver, DY11 5SL
On a dark night Drakelow Lane can be a mysterious place and certainly not somewhere you would want to break down. Apart from nearby Drakelow Tunnel’s Nuclear Bunker which itself is haunted, figures have also been seen crossing the road. On one occasion a family driving back home at about 11.00 pm had just passed the nuclear bunker on the right. Caught in the car headlights the driver clearly saw three figures appear to drift across the road approximately fifteen feet up in the air. Although it was a bit misty at the time the sighting lasted a good few seconds as the apparitions drifted out of the trees right in front of the car. The figures appeared solid and were assumed to be monks as they were dressed in dark brown or black habits.
Dudley Canal Tunnel, Birmingham New Road, Dudley, DY1 4SB
Dudley Canal Trust runs frequent tours into the limestone tunnels beneath Castle Hill. Travelling on electric boats visitors are treated to a fascinating glimpse into a subterranean world. After the first section from the entrance the boat enters the Castle Mill Basin. It is here that the ghosts of two children have been seen near to the entrance to the Wren’s Nest Tunnel. The story is that the youngsters tried to get through the tunnel on a home-made raft and perished in the attempt. They are briefly seen standing just above the water line as if awaiting rescue by the tourist boats as they pass by.
Ellowes Hall Coach Road, Gornal, DY3 3XS
Ellowes Hall was built in 1821 and occupied parkland near Lower Gornal. The stately home was demolished in 1964 to make way for Ellowes Hall School which still exists on the site. An apparition known as The Grey Lady haunts the area around the school. She has been seen particularly on the old coach road which led to the hall from nearby Moden Hill. Although The Grey Lady is locally associated with the old Ellowes Hall there is no evidence as to who she might have been or why she haunts the area. One local legend has it that she would warn miners of impending pit accidents and yet another that she is the murdered wife of a jealous husband who found her in the arms of another man in their bedroom at Ellowes Hall.
First World War Soldiers, A456 Island, Hagley, DY9 0QN
The large island where the A456 road to Kidderminster meets the A491 to Bromsgrove has been the location of some strange early morning sightings. The War Memorial on the island commemorates those brave soldiers who fell in the First World War. A police officer from the nearby police station was a credible witness whilst on patrol in the early hours one morning. He saw what he described as a small troop of soldiers walking along by the War Memorial on the island. They were wearing what appeared to be First World War Uniforms. By the time he had driven around the island to get a better look they had all disappeared.
Ghosts of the A456, DY9 9JS
The A456 between Halesowen and Hagley is one of the most haunted stretches of road in the UK. A plethora of sightings have occurred, many of them frightening drivers into thinking they have run someone over. A policeman returning home at about 1.00 am one morning saw a man in full Cavalier uniform run from the direction of the Badgers Sett pub and straight in front of his car. Shaking from the experience, the Policeman looked for the body of the man he thought he had hit. There was no body and indeed no sign at all of the strangely dressed man he had seen. Other sightings include bodies lying in the road and mysterious figures watching cars pass by on the busy road. A little girl is also sometimes seen wandering down the carriageway before suddenly disappearing.
Gideon Grove, Bridgnorth Road, Wombourne, WV5 0LU
There have been many reports over the years of phantom horsemen heard riding along this section of road particularly around November time. These reports have become associated with the ghost of Gideon Grove, a servant escaping from the siege of nearby Holbeche House where the Gunpowder Plotters were finally captured or killed in November 1605. The story goes that Gideon, who played no part in the plot, was trying to escape back to his home in Trysull when he was hunted down by the Sheriff of Worcester’s horsemen and drowned in nearby marshy ground. Whether the connection with Gideon Grove is correct, or whether there even was a Gideon Grove, nevertheless stories of phantom horsemen have been reported by very credible witnesses over a good many years.
Himley Road Ghosts, Himley, DY3 4DF
Himley Road runs alongside the grounds of Himley Hall which are open to the public. On numerous occasions motorists have been alarmed to see a figure dash across the road in front of them. There seem to be two separate figures which are seen. One is a man described as a Cavalier wearing knee length boots and the other a girl wearing a long dress who could have been a servant. Possibly the same servant girl who has been seen wandering the upstairs corridors of Himley Hall. A Cavalier figure has also been seen in the grounds of Himley Hall. He is believed to be a deserter from the army of King Charles I hung in the grounds in 1645. The figures always disappear through the high fence which runs along the grounds of the hall. There used to be an old gate right at the point where the figures pass through.
M5 Motorway Island, Birmingham Road, West Bromwich, B71 4JQ
A motorway island is an odd place to be haunted but nevertheless there are reports of apparitions seen here. The remains of an old building can be seen in the centre of the island and this is part of the old lodge to Sandwell Hall which has long since been demolished. A hooded figure has been seen by both drivers and passengers in this area. The figure typically crosses the road before disappearing. Given that the figure is hooded it is possible the apparition is associated with Sandwell Priory which was situated nearby. The other figure seen around the island is a lady dressed in white. She has been seen in the early hours of the morning and is often mistaken for a hitchhiker. Witnesses quickly realise she is no ordinary hitchhiker when they find she has disappeared when they stop to offer her a lift.
Madam Pigott, Chester Road, Chetwynd, Shropshire, TF10 8AB
The wife of Squire Pigott, Madam Pigott, died in childbirth after her unfaithful husband chose to let his wife die and save the child. But the baby was too weak and died soon after. Since then Madam Pigott has haunted the area around Chetwynd Church and the A41 to Newport. A figure wearing a white dress and often holding a baby has been seen by walkers and drivers alike wandering around forlornly or sitting at the side of the road. In years past her ghost is said to have jumped in the saddles of passing horses behind their terrified riders. In a more modern twist on this story there are reports of Madam Pigott suddenly appearing in the passenger seat of passing cars.
Mile Flat, Wall Heath, DY6 0AW
The Swindon Road near the Mile Flat crossroads has been subject to a number of reports involving phantom accidents. The reports are broadly similar but differ in the detail of who, and what, was involved. They all concern the same stretch of road and this particular story took place very near to where the old Waggon and Horses pub used to stand on the crossroads. A motorist driving along the road towards Kingswinford witnessed a collision between a car and a bicycle on the opposite side of the road. He brought his car to a halt just beyond where the accident occurred. On getting out to see if anyone had been hurt he realised that the road was deserted, with no sign of an accident ever having taken place.
Netherton Canal Tunnel, Netherton, DY2 9HS
Netherton Canal Tunnel has a long history of haunting. At least two ghosts have been reported here. The first is an old time policeman who is said to have been murdered in the tunnel. The second is a lady in a dirty white dress, known locally as ‘the grey lady’. As well as these apparitions being seen, people walking through the darkness of the tunnel have heard loud footsteps approaching from behind them. On turning around the footsteps immediately stop and there is no-one to be seen. Wet footprints have also been spotted in torchlight leading into the tunnel. If these footprints are followed they suddenly disappear deep inside the tunnel with no clue as to who, or what, made them.
Old Meeting Road, Coseley, WV14 8HB
During the industrial revolution there were many small coal mines in operation in and around Coseley. The apparition seen walking along Old Meeting Road is an echo of these former times as he is a coal miner, dressed for work, who appears both early in the morning and in the evening. A hard working man still following his old route to and from the pit as he did in life. Ghostly activity has also been experienced in the Youth Centre on Old Meeting Road. Items disappearing and reappearing are common and the sounds of someone moving around in the building are heard when there is nobody there.
Oldnall Road, Wollescote, Halesowen, B63 2JP
Oldnall Road seems to have more than its fair share of accidents including drivers swerving into the pavement to avoid something in the road. Although part of the road is in the countryside what the drivers often say they swerve to avoid is no fox or badger. On a number of occasions, the ghost of a little girl in clothes described as Victorian has been seen standing staring in the middle of the road. After swerving to avoid the frightening apparition there is never any sign of a little girl, or indeed anyone else on this isolated stretch of road.
Oldswinford Cross, Oldswinford, DY8 1NQ
A lady driver making her way up Glasshouse Hill towards Oldswinford Cross witnessed something she would never forget. Driving in busy traffic she saw a young girl come flying across the road in front of the cars ahead of her. Fearing a terrible accident as she reached the top of the hill she was amazed to see that all was normal. No sign of an accident, no little girl and everything moving along through the traffic lights just as it should.
Phantom Hitchhiker, Bridgnorth Road, WV5 7AX
The Bridgnorth Road beyond Wombourne has stories of phantom hitch hikers and strange figures seen at the side of the road. One such story concerns a coach driver who had dropped off a party of pensioners in Bridgnorth one Sunday evening and was heading back to the coach station in Gornal. On the way back he picked up a man carrying a petrol can who told him his car, a rare Triumph TR8, had run out of petrol. The man had a slightly out of date 1970s hair style and clothes to match. He said his car was at Tinker’s Cross just outside of Trysull. The coach driver spotted the car on the grass verge and pulled up. The man thanked him, got out of the coach and promptly disappeared together with the car.
Platform 4, New Street Station, Birmingham, B5 4AH
New Street Station has a history dating back to 1848. The modern day Platform 4 has become known as a paranormal hotspot with links to this long history. In the early hours of the morning a fine looking Victorian gentleman has been seen here. He is called Claude and is said to have poisoned himself. On occasions he is accompanied by another suicide, Walter Hartles. Walter shot himself in one of the waiting rooms on Platform 4 where he is sometimes seen sitting to this day. Passengers on Platform 4 often have the distinct feeling of someone close behind them. They turn to look and of course there is no-one there.
Sam Cole, City Road, Tividale, B69 1QS
The Barley Mow used to stand here on City Road. Shadowy figures would often be seen flitting through the pub and the ghost of one of the regulars was a frequent visitor. Sam Cole was a coalman and would often leave his horse and cart outside in the road while he enjoyed a pint or two. The sound of old Sam Cole’s horse and cart has often been heard in the road outside where the pub stood. Paranormal investigator George Gregg was witness to this early one morning when he heard the sound of a horse outside the pub. Unfortunately, not knowing the story of Sam Cole George had no reason to go and investigate!
Severn Valley Railway, Northwood Lane, Bewdley, DY12 1AU
At the very end of Northwood Lane there is a walker’s car park. It was here in September 2004 that five friends decided to park up after a late night out in Bewdley. They were surprised to find people already there who insisted that they were waiting to see the ghost train go by and came every year to see it. The friends decided this was well worth seeing and settled down to wait. At around 2.30 am the tracks started to vibrate as if a train was coming from Bewdley. This was followed by a hazy shimmering mist coming down the line. They could see what seemed to be smoke above where the engine funnel should have been. All the time the ghost train was passing by the tracks were vibrating but otherwise the whole event was enacted silently. The whole train was estimated to be about five or six carriages long. One of the witnesses described it as being like a train, ‘but you could see through it without actually seeing any detail of the carriages or anything’.
Shelfield Ghost Train, Lichfield Road, Shelfield, WS4 1PU
The Leighswood branch line which ran through Shelfield in Walsall was closed to trains in the mid-1960s. The deep cutting under the Lichfield Road has long since been filled in leaving just the upper section of the west wall of the bridge remaining. Nevertheless, the unmistakeable sounds and smell of a steam engine running beneath the bridge on the long gone single track railway has been experienced on more than one occasion by passers-by on the Lichfield Road.
Spring Heeled Jack, Wolverhampton Road, Himley, DY3 4LD
In the middle 1800s the Black Country was plagued with stories of a figure with cloven hooves and horns leaping across buildings and often leaving hoof prints on the roofs. This was the legendary Spring Heeled Jack. There were reports from right across the Black Country but one of the most confirmed sightings occurred at Himley, in the area surrounding Himley House Hotel on the Wolverhampton Road in 1877. The Dudley Militia were deployed to apprehend the fiend but proved grossly inadequate when Spring Heeled Jack suddenly loomed out of the darkness at them and could be heard laughing maniacally as the militia ran away!
Swindon Road, Wall Heath, DY6 0AW
Swindon Road near the Mile Flat crossroads has been subject to a number of reports involving phantom accidents. Around 11.45 pm at night two young men and their girlfriends were driving back towards Kingswinford. When they were passing the rugby club they drove into an unexpected heavy mist. A figure in a grey coat suddenly ran from the right hand side of the road right in front of the car. The occupants were convinced they had hit him as he was thrown off the bonnet. In a state of shock, the driver screeched the car to a halt and they all got out to see if they could help the man they were convinced they had hit. There was no sign of a body, no damage to the car and nowhere the man could have gone.
The Veiled Lady of Turls Hill Bridleway, Sedgley, WV14 9HH
The area around the Turls Hill Bridleway leading from Sedgley towards Coseley has long been known locally as a mysterious place. Some of this air of mystery may date back to the First World War when Belgium refugees were housed in the long demolished Turls Hill House. It is not known whether the ghost who haunts the bridleway is associated with Turls Hill House or not. People who have seen her describe a veiled lady dressed in white moving through the trees. Local legend has it that her two sons committed suicide by shooting themselves in a nearby quarry. A former owner of Turls Hill House is also reputed to have committed suicide by shooting himself in the same quarry which is quite a coincidence. If there is any truth in these suicide stories perhaps local legend has confused them over the years. If so, the veiled lady could be wandering Turls Hill either searching for her lost boys or her suicidal husband.
The White Lady of Coseley Canal Tunnel, WV14 9JH
The ghost that haunts Coseley Canal Tunnel is known as the White Lady. The local story is that she is one Hannah Johnson Cox who lived with her husband and five children around 1900. Hannah was suffering from depression after the birth of her last child, and losing her home due to her feckless husband was the last straw. Whilst in a deeply depressed state she drowned two of her small daughters in the canal tied up in an apron near to the Coseley Tunnel entrance, and promptly gave herself up to the local police. Taking into account her mental state Hannah escaped the gallows but ended up in a mental asylum.
William Howe, Gibbet Lane, Kinver, DY7 6LU
On December 18, 1812, farmer Benjamin Robins was returning home on foot from a successful day at Stourbridge market. He was unfortunate enough to meet up with William Howe who had just two things on his mind, robbery and murder. Shooting Benjamin Robins at close range with a pistol Howe robbed the unfortunate man and left him to die. But Robins did not die, at least not immediately, and managed to stagger back to Dunsley Hall where he died of his wound on December 28th. Howe was eventually apprehended following an investigation by Bow Street Runners. He was duly sentenced and hanged at Stafford Gaol. As was common at the time his corpse was ‘gibbeted’ or hung in chains at the site of the murder as a warning to others. Since then there are reports of people being followed including one from 1940 where a lady was stalked in the moonlight by a figure with a broken neck who made no sound and cast no shadow. Fortunately for the lady concerned the apparition disappeared as soon as she passed the place where Howe’s body had been gibbeted.
Worcester Street Island, Stourbridge, DY8 2AA
The magnificent wrought iron gates to Mary Stevens Park lead out directly onto the Worcester Street island. It was here, late one night, that two policemen in a Panda car were confronted by a bizarre sight. They spotted an old man heading off towards Heath Street but instead of walking he appeared to be floating along the road. They followed him into Heath Street and watched him float down the left hand side of the road. His legs were obscured by parked cars but the figure was unmistakably floating along rather than walking. He got to about half way along the street and then simply disappeared. Despite a thorough search of the area the police officers could find no trace of the strange floating gentleman.