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Blackwall Tunnel

Location: Greenwich (London)  

Date/Time: 1972.     MAP

It seems that in 1972, a motorcyclist died in an accident in the Blackwall Tunnel. Dressed in standard leathers and crash-helmet, it is said he is unable to leave.

Also in 1972, a young man was picked up on the south side of the tunnel (beneath the River Thames) by a motorcyclist who saw him thumbing a lift. Despite the noise of the traffic echoing through the tunnel, the motorcyclist managed to catch the address of his pillion passenger.

Emerging on the north bank of the river, the man looked over his shoulder to check on the young man, and found the seat empty.

His first reaction was to turn round and drive back through the tunnel, fearing his passenger had fallen off. However, he could find no trace and, so, the following day, went on to the address given by his passenger. On giving a description of the young man, he was told he had died some years before...

Source(s): Steve Jones, London...The Sinister Side (Tragical History Tours (Publications), 1986), p.63.

An interesting adjunct to this story is found in Fortean Times 75 (June-July 1994), p.57, in a letter sent in by Roy Dent of Harrow ('Blackwall Horror'). Early in 1960 he and his new wife were staying in his father-in-law's house in Blackwall Lane (since demolished), directly south from the Blackwall tunnel. One dark, wet evening the three of them were sitting together when they were startled by the screeching of tyres and brakes, and then a bang. Outside, Mr Dent's father-in-law found the aftermath of a road accident: a motorcyclist who had struck the curb on the bend and been thrown against a road sign, killing him instantly.

A week later, Mr Dent and his wife were awoken at about 2 a.m. by an identical sequence of sounds, but on investigating, there was no sign of an accident or any vehicle to account for it.

 

Gravesend

Location: Dillywood Lane, nr. Gravesend (Kent)  

Date/Time: November 1992. 12.30 - 01.00 a.m.     MAP

In the early hours - 12.30 a.m. to 1 a.m. - of a Sunday morning in November 1992, a couple (who do not wish to be named) were heading home to Gravesend after attending a 'works do' (a colleague's birthday celebration, at which neither had been drinking) when they found themselves almost in collision with a tramp-like figure which 'just appeared' in the middle of the road (a poorly-lit lane). The driver swerved to avoid the figure, described as a woman in black, which, on looking back, was nowhere to be seen.

Source(s) : Personal communication by a friend of the couple (name withheld).

 

Hartley

Location: A229 Hartley Road, Hartley, nr. Cranbrook (Kent)

Date/Time: Saturday 26 June 1999.  2.00 a.m.     MAP

Bob Prowse, brother of actor David (‘Darth Vader’) Prowse, was on his way home to Hawkhurst from Maidstone, when, passing through the village of Hartley (near to the junction with the B2085), the headlights of his car (a Ford Probe) picked out a figure in the road ahead. Mr Prowse swerved to avoid the figure and brought the car to a halt. But there was no-one to be seen. He even reversed the car to the spot where he had seen the man, but was too ‘spooked’ to get out. The figure - a man - who he saw for only a ‘brief second’, was around 6ft 2in tall, with blonde hair. The man, who he described as "blueish", "...was just standing there[,] not moving[,] with his arms at his side, almost as though he was standing to attention." Mr Prowse expressed concern that his speed at the time - around 60 mph - could have resulted in his crashing and getting killed himself. At least one fatal accident is said to have occurred at the spot that same year.

Source(s): ‘‘Ghostly figure’ terrified driver’, Kent Messenger, 2 July 1999, p.51.

 

A12 Hopton

Location: A12, nr. Hopton (Norfolk)  

Date/Time: Monday 2 November 1981.     MAP

Sign: Hopton-on-Sea (February 2004).A case that bears some similarity to the famous A38 Willand-Taunton phantom is reported of the A12 near Hopton, Norfolk. The ghost of an old man, tall, with grey straggly hair has been seen quite often, and even been in collision with vehicles. 

Rainy days and Mondays, like the song says - enough to get anyone down, even without the additional burden of the kind of experience that befell Andrew Cutajar on the A12 near Hopton in November 1981.

The evening of Monday 2 November was wet and miserable as Mr Cutajar drove towards Great Yarmouth. Somewhere near to the town of Hopton, he noticed what appeared to be a grey mist in the middle of the carriageway ahead. 

As he drew closer, he could see the figure of a man, 'tall, and dressed in a long coat or cape, coming well past his knees. He had on old-fashioned heavy, lace-up boots, and had long, straggly grey hair.'

A12 (facing north) near Hopton, Norfolk (February 2004).The figure was unmoving as Cutajar braked to avoid a collision, but in the wet conditions, the car began to skid out of control, and passed straight through the figure, ending up facing the other way on the grass verge. 

When he came to a stop, there was no trace of the man.

A number of single vehicle accidents have reportedly occurred at the spot.

Source(s): Janet and Colin Bord, Modern Mysteries of Britain (Grafton Books, 1988), pp.36-37.

For similar reports of the Man-in-Grey along the A12 in Suffolk and Essex, see A12 Rackham's Corner, A12 Beccles turn-off, A12 Kelvedon, B1389 Witham.

 

A34 Newbury By-pass

Location: A34 Rickety Bridge, Newbury (Berkshire)

Date/Time: October 1996.     MAP

A34 Newbury By-passSeparate reports started to come in in October 1996 (21 October) from security personnel from the firm Pinkerton who were guarding the construction of the controversial £100 million Newbury by-pass in Berkshire. At least six workers reported seeing shadowy figures floating along the carriageway at night at Rickety Bridge. The sightings were blamed on the disturbance the works had caused to a Civil War burial plot said to contain the remains of hordes of Roundhead and Cavalier soldiers interred there after the Second Battle of Newbury in 1644.

Guards brought in by constructors Costain chased the apparitions, which vanished before them. A commentator said: "This is no laughing matter. The people who saw these things were terrified. We're certain they are the ghosts of soldiers whose graves are now being disturbed."

A chaplain brought in by Pinkerton, John Hudson, reiterated that the sightings were being treated seriously. If proven, he added, exorcism would be recommended.  

Source(s): 'Spooked out on the ghoul carriageway', by John Kay, The Sun, Friday 27 December 1996, p.3).

 

Nunney

Location: Nunney to Frome Road, nr. Frome (Somerset)  

Date/Time: various (1970s).     MAP

Nunney to Frome RoadThe Nunney to Frome road in Somerset is reputedly haunted by a middle-aged man in a check jacket. Reported as occasionally favouring sudden appearances in the backs of cars, the ghost has been picked up in the usual hitch-hiker fashion.

Two encounters in the mid-1970s, both involving a Mr Evans*, give the details about this purported ghost:

His first meeting saw the man assume the rear seat of his car. The man complained of the cold, but on Evans's asking a question, there was no reply. Looking round, the man had disappeared.

On the second occasion, the witness saw the man in the middle of the road, forcing him to swerve to avoid a collision, resulting in the car crashing into a lamp post. In both cases, the police were notified, but found nothing.

No convincing cause for the haunting has ever been discovered, but one theory has suggested that the ghost was acting in vengeance of his own death when, as a cyclist, he was knocked off his bike, cursing all motorists before he died. Another idea is that the haunting could have something to do with the infamous Judge Jeffreys, who held his Bloody Assizes at Nunney, after which his victims were hanged from gibbets along the road. 

In 1977, an accident near Frome - in which a car left the road and ended up in the hedge - was blamed on a man standing in the middle of the road whom the driver swerved to avoid. The man then disappeared.

Frome police superintendent John Lee confirmed that reports had been received of strange happenings along that road. "On one occasion a distraught motorist came into the station and said that he had given a lift to a man who had disappeared. He was so worried that the man may have fallen out of the car that we sent a team of officers to search the hedges."

Nunney CastleThe same (or similar) figure has reportedly been seen and picked up on the A361 by Nunney Castle. Those who have picked up the man, estimated to be around 35, and wearing a sports jacket and flannel trousers, vanishes before reaching Critchill. 

Source(s): A description of the Nunney encounters can be found in Michael Goss, The Evidence for Phantom Hitch-Hikers (The Aquarian Press, 1984); in Paul Screeton's 'Tales of phantom hitch-hikers', The Mail (Hartlepool), 31 October 1980, p.27 (which details the witness's real name, and in the Bath and West Evening Chronicle ('Ghoul of the Road: Phantom who hitches lifts'), 4 August 1977, p.8; 23 August, p.4; and 30 August, p.9; Andrew Green, Ghosts of Today (Kaye and Ward, London, 1980), p.140.

* Real name of witness withheld.

 

Pluckley

Location: Pluckley, 4 miles NE of Ashford (Kent)  

Date/Time: [not specified]. 2.45 - 3.00 a.m.     MAP

Raymond Breakspear (Strange But True? 1996)A well-known haunted locality, the village of Pluckley, near Ashford, in Kent, purportedly the most haunted village in England with its dozen claimed ghosts, has in recent years added another. Taxi-driver Raymond Breakspear was driving through the village after dropping off a fare at Headcorn, when he was flagged down by a figure at the side of the road. The time was around 2.45 a.m. to 3 a.m. Surprised, but not about to ignore the opportunity for a return fare, Breakspear pulled over, and the figure - a man - got in the car (in the back seat, appropriately for a taxi passenger and Phantom Hitch-Hiker). Pulling away, Breakspear turned to ask where, precisely, the man was going, thinking he would be heading either to Ashford or Maidstone, but the figure had vanished. He had heard no sign of the door opening, neither had the interior light come on. There had been no way, he said, that someone could have got out without his knowledge.

Source(s): Strange But True? Encounters (TV series, presented by Michael Aspel), LWT Productions, 1996; first broadcast 13 September 1996.

 

Pyecombe

Location: A23 Pyecombe, 10 miles north of Brighton (W. Sussex) 

Date/Time: various (1970s).     MAP

A section of the A23, ten miles north of Brighton has a resident ghost that is described as a young blonde woman dressed in a pale mackintosh.

Some time in the 1960s a motorist reported seeing such a figure run across the road to the central reservation and vanish.

In 1972, a limping blonde girl, said to be the ghost of a hitch-hiker killed in a motorcycle accident, was reported north of Pyecombe. Michael Dawes, of Withdean, and Mr and Mrs Patrick Geary are persons who have put their names to sightings of this ghost. The Gearys, who saw the girl in 1976, were so convinced they had hit her that they stopped their car and walked back to find the person in the 'white mac'. Not surprisingly, there was nothing to be found. 

The area also sports a male figure. Andrew Green's Ghosts of Today refers to a report in the Brighton Evening Argus of January 1977, which relates how a Mr and Mrs Wright, while on their way home from visiting friends, saw a man in shirt sleeves staggering across the road. 'We thought he might have been involved in a road accident because he looked dazed when he went in front of the car. He passed so close that we thought we must have hit him.' Reversing the car to investigate, the couple could find no trace of the man.

Source(s): Jack Hallam, The Ghosts' Who's Who (David & Charles, 1977), p.113; Andrew Green, Ghosts of Today (Kaye and Ward, London, 1980), p.44.

The Pyecombe section of the A23 sadly became national news in May 2004 when 8 people died in a major accident (see A23 crash). Are roads such as the A23 haunted because of their fatalities record, or are they periodic reminders of the dangers posed to the living? A Southeast television news report the day after the accident also identified the Handcross Hill section of the A23 as in need of improvement to reduce accidents. 

 

Sevenoaks

Location: Junction of A25 (Maidstone to Sevenoaks Road) and A21, Sevenoaks (Kent)  

Date/Time: Thursday 14 June 1979. 12.30 p.m.     MAP

Here, a 22-year-old motorist from Tonbridge was appalled when an elderly lady in a fawn coat appeared suddenly on the zebra crossing and walked in front of his car. Unable to stop, the man felt the impact, and jumped out to help the lady. There was no sign of her, and no evidence of damage to the front of his car. Looking around, he saw, on the other side of the road, a mirror image of his own predicament, with another motorist examining the front of his own car. Calling out 'What happened?' the other motorist - who was an on-duty police detective - replied, 'I've just hit an old woman, but she seems to have vanished.'

Both agreed over the description of the woman: white hair (no hat), and dressed in a pleated skirt beneath her coat, and red shoes. She walked with a stoop.

When he reported the incident to the local police station, the young man was told by an officer in the Accident Department that an elderly woman had been killed at the spot in 1959; and since then, motorists had reported the same thing - on the anniversary of the woman's death, and in 'certain other odd years' - with there always being two drivers involved in the incident.

Source(s): Andrew Green, Ghosts of Today (Kaye and Ward, London, 1980), p.95-96.; Janet and Colin Bord, Ibid., p.37.

 

Silver Hill

Location: A28, Tenterden, nr. Ashford (Kent)

Date: February 1997.    MAP

Late one night, teacher and lecturer Christine Hall was on her way home to Cranbrook along the Ashford Road, when, on the approach to Silver Hill, near Tenterden, she noticed the figure of a young man start across the road in front of her car. Mrs Hall was so startled at being able to see through the man - whom she described as in his early twenties and dressed in black ‘rock and roll’ style clothes  - that she failed to stop in time. Convinced she had hit him, she looked behind, but seeing no sign of him in the road, she got out to investigate. She found no body, and no damage to her vehicle.

Source(s): Andrew Green, Haunted Kent Today (S. B. Publications, 1999), pp.75-76; W. H. Johnson, Kent Stories of the Supernatural (Countryside Books, 2000), p.36.).

 

Stanbridge

Location: Peddars Lane, Stanbridge, nr. Leighton Buzzard (Bedfordshire)  

Date/Time: October 1979. c. 9.30 p.m.     MAP

Peddars Lane, Stanbridge (1999)26-year-old carpet fitter Roy Fulton met a Phantom Hitch-Hiker outside Stanbridge, in Bedfordshire (UK). He had left a darts match in Leighton Buzzard at around 9.20 p.m., and was driving down Station Road, and had just passed Peddars Lane, when he saw the figure ahead, thumbing a lift. Mr Fulton deliberately stopped short of the man and watched as he walked towards his Mini van in the light cast by its headlamps.

He could see that the man, about 20 years of age, wore dark trousers and jumper, and a white open-collared shirt. Opening the passenger door himself, he got in the vehicle. He did not speak, not even when Fulton asked him where he was going. Instead, he raised his arm and pointed up the road, so it was assumed he wanted to go to either Dunstable or Totternhoe.

About a mile down the road, and after the car had reached some 40 mph, the man had still not uttered a word. Fulton decided to offer him a cigarette but on turning, discovered that he had gone. Shocked, he braked and checked the back seat, but finding nothing he turned back and drove away as fast as he could.

Fulton later described his passenger as totally real, very solid. There was no reason to suspect he was anything other than a normal human being. There had been nothing particularly unusual about him, except his complexion, which was pale, and his rather long face, which was topped off by a crop of short dark curly hair.

On the stranger opening the passenger door, the interior light of Fulton's van came on, as expected. The journey began, and there was no further communication between the driver and passenger. The next he knew, Fulton had discovered his passenger to have vanished. He explained that he could not be sure exactly when the man had gone, but it must have been within a span of a few minutes. As anyone who has driven through country lanes at night would appreciate, he said, concentration on the road ahead is total. There is little exchange with a passenger in the seat beside you, particularly if that person is unable or reluctant to talk, the latter being Mr Fulton's explanation to himself as to why the man had pointed ahead along the road rather than declare his destination.

After he had absorbed the significance of the disappearance, fear had gripped him, and he made off as fast as possible to his local pub in Dunstable, The Glider, where he uncharacteristically ordered a large Scotch, before proceeding to Dunstable Police Station to report his experience. A car was sent to the spot as a matter of routine, and Roy Fulton's statement taken without comment. Needless to say, nothing unusual was discovered; Fulton did not go out there with them, and he thereafter avoided the area at night.

According to the Dunstable Gazette (18 October 1979), it was rumoured that 'years ago' a young man had been run down and killed by a drunk driver while returning home from a party. His body had been discovered at the same spot Roy Fulton had picked up the Hitch-Hiker.

Source(s): This account taken from various sources: Goss, op.cit., Chapter 5, pp.90-99; 'Night Ride Riddle of Hitch-Hike Ghost!', by Anne Court, Dunstable Gazette, 18 October 1979, p.7; John Fairley & Simon Welfare, Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers (Collins, 1984), pp.119-120; Book Club Associates edition, 1985, pp.149-150); 'On the Road Again', by Michael Goss, Fortean Times (The Journal of Strange Phenomena), No.34 (Winter 1981), pp.14-16; 'Taken for a ride?', by Michael Goss; Ghosts (a compilation from the popular magazine series, The Unexplained) (Book Club Associates, 1984, by arrangement with Orbis Publishing Ltd, London), pp.63-64.

 

A41 Stanmore

Location: A41 Stanmore (Middlesex) 

Date/Time: Sunday 13 October 1985. 6.00 p.m.    MAP

Peter Leslie, of East Finchley,  was driving along the A41 towards Stanmore when 'all of a sudden' a man with a Doberman dog appeared before him. Registering the unavoidable impact, the witness saw both figures go over the car. In his rear-view mirror Mr Leslie could see the pair lying in the road behind as he brought his car to a screeching halt. He could also hear the man's screams and a dog's whimper, but when he got out of the car there was no sign of either. Mr Leslie, in a state of shock, telephoned the police, who checked the scene but were unable to find any evidence of an accident. The car showed no sign of damage.

Source(s): 'Accident Mystery Baffles Police', Hampstead Local Advertiser, Sunday 17 October 1985.

 

A616 Stocksbridge By-pass

Location: A616 Stocksbridge, 10 miles NW of Sheffield  (S. Yorkshire) 

Date/Time: various (1987/1992).     MAP

On 12 September 1987, five days after two security watchmen had been frightened off the construction site by a white-hooded figure standing on an uncompleted bridge section, PC Dick Ellis and Special Constable John Beet decided, mainly out of curiosity, to visit the site. Arriving around midnight, which was also the time the security men's experiences had taken place, and after checking the site, the men decided to wait in the car for a further ten minutes or so before continuing their patrol. Suddenly, and accompanied by a paralyzing feeling of coldness and helplessness, a figure appeared beside the driver's window, only to vanish instantly and reappear on the passenger side. From the description, Beet, who obtained the only clear view of the upper part of the figure, might have been describing Blue Bell Hill's ghostly witch, even using the same word - 'wizened' - to describe its features, which included a pointed noise and piercing eyes.

Alarmed, but jumping out of the vehicle, PC Ellis found no trace of anyone or anything to account for the experience, following which they withdrew a little way before radioing for assistance. At this point, a loud bang came from the back of the car, followed, as the pair quickly got out, by a series of thuds and crashes that sounded like an angry attack on the vehicle. Later inspection, however, revealed no damage or marks on the vehicle. 

The encounters with the hooded figure at Stocksbridge gave rise, as they almost inevitably do when this type of apparition is reported, to its identification as a monk - who was said to have grown disillusioned with the monastic life, left, and was later buried in unconsecrated ground which the by-pass eventually disturbed.

The initial sighting at Stocksbridge - by two security men - was of a group of children in old-fashioned clothes dancing in 'ring-o'-roses' fashion beneath the struts of an electricity pylon. The presence of the children, who vanished before the men's eyes, was later conveniently accounted for by a story that claimed that a cart carrying a number of children overturned near the spot some 150 years before, killing them all. 

Finally, in July 1992, David and Judi Simpson were returning home one Friday evening after visiting Judi's parents. As they crossed the bridge over the top of the by-pass they both noticed off to their left a grey, featureless apparition apparently running across the field towards them. Only it seemed to be running above ground level, and its arms and legs were flailing about in an uncoordinated manner. It came up the embankment, across the road and disappeared into the car. Mrs Simpson braked quickly, but there was no sense of a collision.

Source(s): Strange But True? (TV series, presented by Michael Aspel), LWT Productions, 1994; Jenny Randles & Peter Hough, Strange But True? (Piatkus, 1994), Chapter 6 ('Highway of Horror?'), pp.70-82

In October 2002, I received an e-mail from Rik Clay, who had just read the material on the Stocksbridge case. Rik had this to say:

"My dad was down there a few years back looking at a water reservoir which is adjacent to the by-pass. I remember we'd just watched Strange But True on television, like 4 months before.

"Anyhow, his job as an estimator required he took photos of this reservoir and I remember he brought the developed pictures back, and he got the whole family looking at this one picture. He got his magnifying glass out and said like, 'I think I shot the ghosts mentioned on Strange But True'.

"i thought it was _____, so I looked at this photo. Without the glass it was simply a blurry multicoloured patch on the photo. But then when you place it over, there's what seems to be three adult figures, one wearing a dark top,  v-necked, with something that reminds me of a shakespearian shirt underneath, kinda frilly. And the thing that kinda scares me now is that there were two kids.

"I'd only ever seen on the tv the reports of monks; not heard of sightings of children. And also about the over-toppled cart hundreds of years ago. On this photo these five people are clearly grouped around a tree, in old clothing, possibly playing ring-a-ring-a-roses..."

 

Waterlooville

Location: Hulbert Road, Waterlooville, nr. Portsmouth (Hampshire) 

Date/Time: November 1976.     MAP

In November 1976, a man and his wife were driving down the Hulbert Road in Waterlooville, when the man saw a girl ahead standing in the path of the vehicle. The conditions were not good; daylight almost spent. It was apparent that his wife, who was driving, could see nothing. He cried out, but it was too late. He shut his eyes in anticipation of the impact, but there was none.

When he later told his story to a workmate, the man discovered that this girl had been seen on other occasions. It was said that she came from a large council estate in Havant called Leigh Park, and had been killed by a car while trying to hitch-hike from Waterlooville.

Another man told the witness that he was once flagged down by a girl outside the cemetery on Hulbert Road. It was a wet evening, and he agreed to give her a lift to an address in Leigh Park. During the journey, the girl spoke very little. Arriving at the address, he turned to let the girl out, but found that she had vanished, the only evidence that she had been there being a wet imprint on the seat.

Source(s): Joan Forman, The Haunted South (Jarrold Colour Publications, 1989), pp.100-101. Unfortunately, Ms Forman does not name her witnesses, making its acceptance problematic.

 

White Hill

The bend of White Hill - scene of Keith Scales' encounterLocation: Off A251, 2 miles NE of Wye, nr. Ashford (Kent)

Date/Time: Friday 6 January 2000.  6.45 a.m.     MAP

Keith Scales, a 53-year-old coach driver, was on his way to work at Wye, near Ashford. Mr Scales’s southbound route routinely brought him down White Hill, an eastern extremity of the same chalk escarpment of the North Downs that comprises Blue Bell Hill, 25 miles to the west. The road here, narrow and bordered by woodland (Kings Wood) and earth banks, makes a lonely, sinuous descent of the face.

Rounding a left-bend in the road, Mr Scales was confronted by a woman standing in the middle of the road. It was too avoid her. His car struck her and she rolled over the bonnet and vanished from sight. ‘Shaking like a leaf’, Mr Scales jumped out to see if the woman was injured but he could find no trace of her, even climbing the high bank at the roadside in case she was thrown up there by the collision.

Continuing on to his workplace, Mr Scales phoned the police, and two officers - a PC and WPC - came out from Ashford Police Station to investigate. A search of the scene and the nearby woodland revealed nothing. But Mr Scales was insistent that the incident had occurred. He described a woman, aged 30 to 35, with shoulder-length blonde hair, and dressed in a long, dark overcoat. 

“I definitely hit her. I felt the thump on the front of my motor. She didn’t try to get out of my way but just looked at me and smiled as I hit her. She bounced over my bonnet and disappeared.”

In an unusual departure from most accounts of this type, Mr Scales’s car was found to have incurred some damage - a broken offside wing-mirror - although it could not be ascertained that this damage was not there beforehand.

As always, while the witness previously knew nothing of White Hill’s reputation for being haunted, local people were already familiar with the Hill’s ghost. After Keith Scales’s experience, one lady passenger on his coach told him the same thing had happened to her.

One possible reason for the ghost’s appearances was proposed by colleagues of Mr Scales, who recalled the murder of a woman by her husband there ‘eight to ten years ago’.

Source(s): ‘Coach driver’s ghostly collision’, by Sally Yonish, Kentish Express (a Kent Messenger group newspaper), 13 January 2000, p.3.

 

A38 Willand to Taunton Road

Location: A38, nr. Wellington (Somerset)  

Date/Time: various (1958 (3 a.m.)/1970).     MAP

An account that has been reproduced more than once involves the A38 between Willand and Taunton, in Somerset. More than one motorist has described encounters with a rather bedraggled figure of a middle-aged man in a long grey overcoat.

Mrs Kathy Swithenbank, of Taunton, in 1970, swerved to avoid the man, who was standing in the middle of the road, holding a torch. She had had no time to brake on seeing him, and he was no longer visible behind when she completed the manoeuvre.

The publication of her account prompted others to volunteer their experiences. One lorry driver thought he had run into someone, but when he got out to check the figure vanished, while a motorcyclist is said to have broken a leg as a result of swerving to avoid a similar figure, some four miles to the west of Mrs Swithenbank's encounter.

Blackbird Inn, A38 (Somerset)The most interesting - and disturbing - account involved former long-distance lorry driver, Harold Unsworth, who claimed a series of encounters with a seemingly well-educated grey-haired man in 1958. On three occasions, each at around 3 a.m. and in foul weather, he had given a man a lift from the Blackbird Inn along the A38 to Beam Bridge, by the Holcombe Rogus crossroads. The man was saturated; his curly grey hair fell almost to his grey or cream-coloured mackintosh, and each time he had been carrying a torch. During the journey, the man morbidly described the accidents which had taken place along the road in the past. The driver was more than relieved to discharge his passenger at his destination.

Although disturbed by the experience, Mr Unsworth had no reason to suspect his passenger to be in any way ghostly - not until the November, that is. On this occasion, instead of the meeting ending with the man simply alighting at the usual bridge destination, he asked Mr Unsworth if he would wait while he collected some cases and then drop him off at another point further down the A38. Unsworth agreed, but after a wait of twenty minutes in which the man failed to reappear, he continued on his way. However, some three miles down the road, by Morgan's Transport café, he saw a figure in his headlights waving a torch. At first he thought it to be a motorist in trouble, but he quickly realized, and to his astonishment, that it was the man in grey, who was shaking a fist at him.

Unsworth realized there was no way the man could have got there so quickly. No other vehicle had passed him which may have given the man a lift. He tried to drive past him, but the figure leapt in front of his lorry. In spite of the fact that the man must have been hit, there was no sense of impact. The lorry was braked to a halt as quickly as possible, jack-knifing a little in the process. He jumped from the cab and ran back to see what had happened, only to see the man standing in the road again, shaking his fist and cursing at having been left behind. Then, as he watched, the figure turned his back on him and vanished instantly. Mr Unsworth, his hair suddenly standing on end, ran back to the lorry and drove off as fast as he could.

The same character has been seen some 8 to 10 miles further up the A38, at Taunton. One evening in 1973, A Mrs Tayor of Taunton encountered a middle-aged man standing in the middle of New Road. He wore a long grey overcoat, and his head was bowed as if looking at something on the ground. Mrs Taylor had to swerve to avoid him, but on getting out of the car to scold him, he was not there.

In December 1991, a woman driving to Taunton on the A38 rounded a bend near the village of Rumwell to see a man in a grey raincoat flashing a torch at her from the middle of the road. She had to swerve to avoid him, ending up in a ditch. 'Fuming', she got out to give the man a piece of her mind, but the road was completely clear. 

Source(s): From Goss, Ibid., pp.82-86; Andrew Green, Our Haunted Kingdom (Fontana, 1974), p.254; Terence Whitaker, England's Ghostly Heritage (Robert Hale, London, 1989), pp.131-133; Exeter Express & Echo ('Western Ways by Dexon': 'The Night a Ghost Hitched a Lift'), 12 August 1970, p.6; Andrew Green, Ghosts of Today (Kaye and Ward, London, 1980), p.140; The Unexplained: Strange Encounters (Parragon, 2000), p.304.

 

Witton 

Location: Moor Lane, Witton, Birmingham (W. Midlands)

Date/Time: Tuesday 2 January 1996.  12.50 a.m.     MAP

Birmingham plumber David Bingham, 30, reported to police that he had hit a pedestrian with his van as he drove past the Birmingham City Cemetery, in Moor Lane. The incident had taken place at around 12.50 a.m. while he was out on 24-hour call. The figure - a man - had appeared in front of the vehicle. Stopping immediately after the collision, Mr Bingham found no trace of an injured person, blood, or damage to his van. 'Badly shaken', he reported the incident to Queens Road Police Station. Officers investigated but found no sign of an accident. A police spokeswoman said: "This isn't the first time that ghost sightings have been made in the area.

"This gentleman is convinced that he has seen a ghost and is really quite upset.

"He was as white as a ghost himself and really shaking."

Mr Bingham himself, who spent the day following the incident recovering from it, said: "I didn't believe in ghosts but this has really made me think again.

"I'll never forget the man's eyes staring at me before I hit him.

"There was definitely someone there. The only explanation is it was a ghost."

Source(s): 'Plumber spooked in ghostly run-in', Evening Mail (Birmingham), 2 January 1996, fp; 'Phantom crash will haunt me', Evening Mail (Birmingham), 3 January 1996, p.14; 'All shook up after spooky encounter', The Birmingham Post, 3 January 1996, p.5; 'I hit a ghost claims driver', The Sun, 3 January 1996, p.11; 'And finally...', Kent Today (Maidstone & district), 3 January 1996, fp.

Moor Lane also features in another - earlier - account. At an undisclosed date, Mr Arthur Spencer was driving along Moor Lane at 7 p.m. when, at a bend in the road near Lucas Sports Ground and a canal bridge, he saw an airman walking slowly across the road toward the cemetery, before which he vanished. Two years previously, two factory workers returning home along the canal towpath saw near the bridge the figure of ‘a young, handsome man ‘about 27’ with fair, wavy hair and dressed in RAF uniform, walk across the water and vanish. (Italics - mine). 

Source(s): Green, Andrew, Ghosts of Today (Kaye and Ward, London, 1980), pp.167-168.

 

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