Thursday, 30 April 2009

Manor House Experiences - Part 2.

I've long maintained that, if ghosts do indeed exist and any one, particular place is actually 'haunted', then this place would be the Manor House. I'm not a betting man, but I'd be more than willing to risk parts of my anatomy in a wager that ghostly activity does actually take place in that property...

In my last scribblings on such matters, we covered the topic of potential 'ghost sightings' at this popular site, as experienced during W.M.G.C. investigations. In this section I'd like to run over some of the more varied audible and physical happenings that we have catalogued. For the sake of brevity - this could be an exceptionally long list indeed - I've dispensed with time / date references and any semblance of chronological order, etc.

And so...

One of the most startling incidents to have happened to the group occurred during one of our later investigations. A vigil had just taken place in the upstairs chapel room and attendees had just filtered back down the stairs and into the great hall. After a brief discussion, it was suggested that a certain experiment be conducted in the area just vacated - so some of the group members began the return journey to the room.

One of the peculiar things about this experience was that the 'penny didn't actually drop' until later than would have been expected under such circumstances. While walking through the remarkably small doorway at the bottom of the chapel stairs, the club members had found themselves literally 'squeezing past' an inconveniently placed chair, smack-dab in the doorway itself. One person had edged past the obstruction and a second had just started the task when the 'hang on a minute?!' moment actually struck!!

Where had the chair come from? We had all come down the stairs together not a minute and a half earlier and there had been no chair there at that time!?

On another visit, two group members were standing just inside the door to the ladies toilet - above the main bar - when they heard another group member climbing the stairs just outside (and leading directly to) their position. They identified the member concerned by the sound made during the climb, as he had a habit of emphasising the effort of such matters vocally - i.e. making mock puffing and panting noises, groans, etc.

Wondering why the member hadn't entered the toilet after the climb, but was now seemingly standing stock still and silent outside, they opened the door to find that there was no one there! The member concerned was in a completely different part of the building at that time....

A lot has been said in the past re. 'phantoms of the living', though this is frequently a phenomenon that doesn't sit well with the more 'traditional' - less questioning - ghost enthusiast, of course! Digressing slightly, but such notions call to mind a certain Birmingham publican who had a tendency to frequently see fleeting figures dressed in denim blue garb flitting around her pub at times when she was completely alone. It was interesting to note that the staff costume for the place was blue denim jeans and a similarly coloured t-shirt.... The woman concerned did something of a double take when we suggested it was possibly her staff that she was seeing at such times. 'But the staff aren't on the premises at these times' she stressed to us again. No, we said that we understood that fully, but it was still probably her staff she was seeing!!

More on the Manor House to follow shortly....

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Canal Haunting…..?

A short while ago, a local newspaper report featured an article concerning a series of potential 'ghost sightings' involving a stretch of canal in the Wolverhampton area. Group members visited the site in question following the appearance of the article, this section of the (then) town being an area known well to the W.M.G.C. from a previous (unrelated) investigation of a year or two earlier. (*The latter concerned the ghost of an ‘Airman’ who allegedly haunts at least two buildings in the region).

Regarding affairs in the area concerned, two local residents are said to have separately seen a peculiar figure – wearing a long black coat or cape, with a hood covering it’s head – standing alongside a section of the canal involved. Both witnesses report having been struck by the man’s ‘heavy garb’ (on a warm, Summer morning) and both said that the figure ‘vanished’ upon their having looked away for a split second. The first person to see the figure – a woman out walking her dog near a bridge – claims that it turned to look at her and she could see no features to the face inside the hood…..

Investigations in the general area have revealed that a long distance lorry driver once narrowly missed hitting the figure of an old man who stepped out in front of his vehicle as he crossed the same bridge one morning at 4am. He said that, in the time it took for him to stop, the old man disappeared. Yet another local resident claims to have been driving along a nearby lane when a man in a stovepipe hat ‘glided’ out of a hedge into the path of her car. She was also forced to skid to a halt, only to find that the figure had vanished….

While there is no evidence to suggest that death, human turmoil and tragic events have anything to do with haunting activity, it is quite customary to relate instances of the former when discussing the latter. On this front, it is interesting to note that the section of canal concerned does have a considerable tragedy associated with it. During the late Victorian period, a local 'bobby' is alleged to have been rendered unconscious by ‘assailants unknown’ in the general locality and his body pushed into the canal in the area of the above mentioned sightings…….

Following our first mention of the above case (on our old website), a Miss Sue Smith (*Pseudonym) wrote in to the Club to comment on our coverage of the matter.

Sue told us that she used to live near to the site mentioned and, as a child, played under the bridge where the mysterious figure had been seen. While she says that she couldn't add anything of paranormal relevance to the aforementioned portion of our investigation, she did mention certain details that may tie in with sightings of the ‘phantom airman’ reported in the general area.

Sue’s mom had previously told her that, as she was travelling along the section of road in the local area one day, she looked out of the vehicle window and saw what she described as ‘an old aeroplane’. Peculiarly, the aircraft is described as having ‘disappeared’ quickly – not striking Sue’s mother as actually ‘in flight’, but more like a ‘quick picture’ which was then gone…..

A further snippet of intriguing information hails from the time when houses were built on the site of an old, nearby airfield. Sue’s mother in law moved into one of the new houses and, only the second night after they took up occupancy, she and her husband witnessed a ‘uniformed man’ standing at the entrance to their neighbours house. Somewhat bizarrely, the figure appeared to be standing ‘half in and half out’ of the front door……

An airfield had existed in the region concerned for some years, but, at the advent of WWII, the area was requisitioned and turned into a training facility for the duration of the conflict, with at least two Tiger Moth aeroplanes crashing into nearby playing fields. (Fatalities – if any – unknown). The general area where the ghostly pilot has been witnessed appears to have been the former runways to the airfield.

With the onset of the Summer months, group members are planning a number of outdoor excursions and investigations and the site mentioned above will certainly be finding it's way onto the rota of places covered. More on this matter soon....

Best wishes,

The West Midlands Ghost Club

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Great Barr Hall Experiences(?)

As with offerings of information, 'queries' also frequently come our way and our dealings with the Great Barr area have certainly proven no exception. Within the past couple of weeks we have recieved a clutch of emails and phonecalls enquiring whether our interests in the aforementioned area have ever led to any 'personal experiences' for the W.M.G.C. members themselves.....?

Much emphasis has (over recent years) been put on the former St. Margarets Hospital site and that magnificent pile, Great Barr Hall itself. On this latter subject, we can (somewhat rarely) comment on the sort of potential 'personal experience' alluded to above....

Our first visit to the property was in early 2004 and was carried out by a solitary group member. Needless to say, this was at a time prior to the rejuvenation of the general area, when the hospital site was still extant, but in a most deplorable condition. Back then, access to the Hall itself was via some fallen fencing at the Chapel end of the building. A narrow path of knee-length grass lead alongside the Chapel to the main door of the Hall, which, at that point in time, stood open. On entering the building, the member concerned had noticed that a group of (shall we say) 'non-licenced salvage workers' (ahem!) were stripping the remaining guts out of a hospital building nearby.

After only a matter of a minute or so of his standing in the entrance hall of the property - taking snap-shots and so on - the distinct sound of someone slowly, but surely walking along the overgrown path leading to the main door of the Hall could be heard......; the noise of one or more people deliberately kicking their way through knee-length grass.

A pessimistic, but practical thinker by nature, he had instantly thought of an impending mugging / beating of some description and, in that same thought, reasoned that - if he was going to be set about and possibly maimed - being 'outside' the building would be infinitely more preferrable to remaining incapacitated and undetected 'inside'....!?!? Clearly, his best course of action was to step outside the nearby, main door and meet his would-be-attackers in broad daylight, before they could enter.

Heart in throat, he duly stepped outside.... only to find that the non-too-stealthy noise of approaching people had now, suddenly stopped and there was absolutely no one in sight!?!?

The sceptic / rationalist in him later noted in his diary that there was some loose plastic sheeting / tarpaulin affixed to the Chapel roof and it could well have been this - blowing in the wind - that he had somehow heard and misinterpreted(?) Who knows, eh?

On a later visit to the Hall, two male group members were exploring the inside of the building, with a video camera running. They were not actually intending to commit anything to tape properly - this wasn't intended as a 'structured' recording session, it has to be noted - but they had thought that the camera should possibly be switched on 'just in case'.....

Entering the rear - and exceptionally dilapidated - section of the building, they had to take great care in navigating some of the more dodgy looking sections of the site: holes in the floor, dropping down into the cellar; walls which seemingly began 8 feet in mid-air (with no signs of support); dangerously hanging / positioned masonry, etc.

After returning home, the process of reviewing the tape concerned was carried out. At a point some time after the investigators had entered the rear portion of the Hall, they can be heard discussing the care needed to navigate certain features in this particular section of the property - a certain doorway being mentioned because of dangerous looking masonry above. Immediately after this - as clear as a bell on the recording - a womans voice suddenly cuts in from nowhere and says a single word: "Carmen". Somewhat intriguingly, the word is clearly stretched slightly, with emphasis being put on each syllable: "Carrrr-men". It is also - quite clearly, from the level of sound - close to the video camera.

Needless to say, nothing out of the ordinary was heard at the time that the recording was made and there was no one else inside the property with us to have been accidentally caught on the tape... Over the years, group members have caught the occasional, anomalous voice or sound on recordings, but this one certainly stands out as one of the most perplexing so far. Despite being a very objective group, we have long been at ends to rationally explain this voice away.

Unfortunately, discoveries made by the group regarding the actual ghostlore of the St Margarets site as a whole - interviews with ex-staff members of the Hospital and so on - came much too late to have been of any practical use to the club. One veritable 'gold mine' of related data - specific buildings, etc - was given to us by a particular source, at a time when the finishing touches were being added to the freshly erected residential complex which now dominates the bulk of the area involved.

Ahhh - c'est la vie, eh!!!

Best wishes,

The W.M.G.C.

Friday, 24 April 2009

'Ghost Rider' Requiem?

It would appear that the intriguing story of the Great Barr riders has eventually slid to a halt over the last week or so, with the most recent press appeals resulting in only a handful of further responses carrying very similar data. Needless to say, this story does appear to have been well and truly 'put to bed' a couple or so weeks ago now, with regards to it actually being a 'paranormal related' matter...

Our recent correspondents could add little to the story that we have already gleaned so far; the riders are very much 'of flesh and blood', dress up in period costume and are based at a small-holding in a particular area. A recent visit to this area by a group member and an interview with (independent) witnesses has revealed that the riders concerned do seem to regularly take a particular path up to Barr Beacon from a certain stables. However, it was also mentioned that the men haven't been seen in a while now....?

Hmmmm - could the latter mentioned be a direct result of all of the recent interest in their activities, perhaps? Laugh!!

As frequently occurs in these instances - and something we always look forward to with some gusto - are the 'extra' or 'bonus' details that tend to get passed along at such junctures. 'Everyone has a ghost story to tell' they say and such 'oh, by the way(s)...' and 'while we're on the subject of ghosts...' have greatly been our bread and butter for some two decades! As a result, we have also received further (unrelated) calls concerning a three witness sighting of a 'glowing figure' in the Great Barr area some years ago and a very peculiar and frightening 'physical assault' on a vehicle momentarily parked in a particular spot! The witnesses in this instance saw nothing at all during their experience, despite the car they were in seemingly being violently 'bounced' by something!? Further stories sent in to us concerned two separate, group sightings.... one of (presumed) 'phantom horsemen' on a nearby ancient road and another of a solitary figure in period costume crossing a busy, main road in the region.....

Some of the sites associated with the experiences and stories concerned can be found at our photo-album page:

Best wishes as always,

The West Midlands Ghost Club

Saturday, 18 April 2009

'Manor House' Experiences...

I was having a chat (over a cuppa) with a researcher friend the other night and conversation turned to that rarest of topics: 'instances of potential paranormal activity during investigations'. Inevitably, under such circumstances, the subject of the Manor House in Stone Cross, West Bromwich came up - both of our groups having visited the site numerous times - and, at some length, we began recounting all of the 'experiences' that we had listed for the property.

My friends group - the Black Country Paranormal Society - had begun investigating the Manor House in 2002, while our own club first visited in 2004. Over the subsequent 4 years, the W.M.G.C. paid in excess of 15 more visits to the site and, during one period, carrying out some 12 investigations there in the space of as many months. With regards to potential 'results' during investigations, it has to be stressed that this site far exceeds anything else that we have experienced by far....

Very few people interested in the paranormal these days need any introduction to the Manor House. Thanks to the likes of (shudder!!) 'Most Haunted' the site is now a nationally recognised property of some considerable paranormal repute. (It's just a pity it takes such utter drivel to bring these matters to the fore, really!)

Historically speaking however, the site itself was originally built in the late 13th Century and had been very much presumed 'lost' until being duly 'rediscovered' again during the process of slum clearance in the 1950's. After a remarkable renovation, the property was opened as a public house during the 60's and remained a fairly popular watering hole until the recent recession. Sadly, at the time of writing, the Manor House now stands empty and abandoned and it's future is a matter of some speculation.......

As a result of this recent conversation, I have decided to list some of the more interesting incidents that group members have reported during the course of our visits. I thought that - for wont of a better starting point - I might begin with visual encounters, i.e. potential apparitions, etc.

Our first visit to the property was on May the 31st 2004. During a vigil at 3.50 am in the function room of the site, group member, Steve Chew, suddenly informs the group that he had just seen a tall, thin figure travel - (from his) left to right - past a pair of glass doors directly opposite to where he is sitting.

He described the form as wearing a long cowl or dress, down to feet level - folds of some form of cloth visible - and being a drab, light grey in colour. It appeared to be stooping forward, as if walking against a strong wind, and he had the impression that it had it's hands held in front of it's stomach area, much like when you see monks with their hands 'tucked' into their sleeves. It's movement was described as gliding, with no discernible leg movements. He saw the shape of a head, but wasn't sure whether it was hooded or not.

The fact that Steve mentions that the figure was 'moving fast' when he saw it is of considerable interest, as, just to the right of the glass doors, is a groin high fence and - beyond that - an immediate drop into the moat! Had this figure been a solid person travelling at that speed and in that direction, they would literally be a second or so away from 'flipping' the rail into the murky waters beyond......

On Tuesday the 6th of August 2004, a further investigation was held at the site. At 1.56 am, all of the group members present had entered the panelled room (upstairs section to the function room) for the purpose of a vigil. Darren Simpson had been travelling some distance behind the rest of the group during the move, due to the fact that he had to first retrieve a notebook from the great hall area.

As he entered the doorway to the function room - endeavouring to switch off his torch in the process - he looked up to see a dark, short, shadow-like figure moving left to right in front of him. (He describes it as being a silhouette of someone from the side. Features to the figure were clearly visible). He says that the form was already moving when he saw it, travelling in the direction of the steps leading to the lower function room area. The figure had gone - walked - out of Darrens site behind the wall of the stairwell leading up to 1st floor. Darren thought that a group member had possibly been in the process of exploring the area prior to the beginning of the vigil and called up to the panelled room to check. All of the members were upstairs at the time. He subsequently checked the upper and lower levels of the function room, but there was no one else on site.......

During an investigation on Halloween 2006, the group were taking a break in the great hall (at 5.15 to 5.20 am) and one of the members were busying themselves in collecting used coffee cups from the tables. Frazer Smith was standing in the bar area of the hall and reports having seen a small, child-like figure - some 3.5 to 4 feet high - following the group member, at some speed, down the length of the hall. He sketched what he had seen and revealed a triangular shape, as of a long dress, with a corset-like motif / pattern above it. (Not exactly laced like a corset, but ribbed). He said that he could make out hair on the figure and likened it to the daughters of another group member. Needless to say, the member being followed was oblivious to the entire event, or cleaning up the coffe cups might have been momentarily forgotten, under the circumstances!!

What is of passing interest about the sightings reported by Steve and Darren in particular is the simple fact that - comparably, dealing with the original layout of the property - 'both' occured 'outside' of the confines of the modern / current building!

In Steves case, this fact is obvious, of course. Looking at old, pre-renovation photographs of the property, a door is clearly visible in the angle of the walls created by the passage to the function room and the function room itself. Prior to the moat being excavated, it isn't too much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that a path of some description would have run away from the doorway in the direction that Steve saw the figure travelling(?) Certainly food for thought....

However, in Darrens case, the wall, behind which the figure had left his sight, was originally the 'outside' wall of the property. The section of function room where the figure was seen walking was an extension, added to the building during the 60's / early 70's and the ground concerned was originally part of the gardens to the property....... Again, given access from the nearby (old) doorway, is it presuming too much to see a path leading round to the rear of the property, just in the position where Darrens figure was seen walking?

While it means nothing at all, of course, it seems a little intriguing to consider that two of the ghosts experienced at such an allegedly haunted building would seem to have (technically) appeared 'outside' the property!! Laugh!! Flippancy aside, there are a number of stories attached to the area that speak of a monk-like figure being seen on the huge expanse of lawn to the side of the building itself...... Interestingly, group members only learned of such stories well after the date of Steves experience......

More to follow at a later date.....

Regards to all,


The West Mids Ghost Club

Monday, 13 April 2009

Great Barr Riders..... Again!

And still, the information continues to pour in!

We have just now received an exceptionally detailed missive (edited, below) from Debra Horton concerning the enigmatic horsemen. She says:

"I often see them around lunchtime on my way to work around 1.30pm never coming home at 2.15pm. As there are riding stables close by in Streetly, near to the crematorium, I simply thought they were from there.

I have to say that the first time I saw them they reminded me of Spanish/Mexican riders and had a very confident air about them. There are three riders always in the same positions. The centre rider, a few steps ahead of the other 2, has the larger horse, a chestnut. The gentleman is tall and well built, not fat but muscular - he is attractive and looks the youngest. He wears a 'cowboy' hat with the strings low and I have seen him with the hat at the back of his head over/on his shoulders. It has no fringes and is quite plain, it is a pale tan/amber colour the same as his chaps which appear to sit quite high and wide on his legs. He wears a long leather coat which is also long enough to cover the back end/rump of the horse sadly, I am unable to tell you the colour.

The other riders, the one on his left is older and appears to have grey or lighter hair maybe even a sandy colour and also wears a hat most times. It is hard to describe his features or clothing as he is generally the furthest away from me. He has the smaller horse or is a shorter person as he sits lowest in the saddle, he always reminded me of Lee Van Cleef. I am unable to tell you what colour his horse is as it sits at the back and behind the larger centre chestnut.

The gentleman on the right, closest to me, has a swarthy/weathered skin and is very dark haired which is quite long and shiny, could be greasy even. He generally does not wear his hat but it is on strings slung over his shoulders. I am unable to tell you what colour his hat is and I think his coat is a dark coloured leather and I see him wearing dark, knee high boots. He has often looked my way and seemed surprised or confused at seeing me, maybe even amused, it's hard to say. In the dozens of times I have seen him he has only once tipped his hat to me (touched the brim and nodded) and 2-3 times nodded in my direction. He is aware of me but the others do not acknowledge me. I have even been in a line of cars before and he has still caught my eye by looking directly at me.

I have never been frightened and presumed that they were exercising the horses from the stables in Streetly. They always trek in the same formation, in the same place and at the same time which perhaps is a little odd and I only ever see them during the day, never at night".

A big 'thank you' to Debra - as with our other correspondents - for having taken the time to contact us with their information! We still live in hope of seeing these riders for ourselves and - in subsequently speaking with them - getting to the bottom of this little mystery!

Wish us luck!!

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Ghosts In The Aisles?????

A matter of some interest to the group started a little earlier this year with a 'friend of a friend' story involving a large, popular 'superstore' situated in the Black Country area. It began with a group member being told that 'something strange' had been caught on the buildings security cameras over the New Year period......

Unfortunately, the group will have to appear rather 'miserly' with regards to some of the details related herein - heavily edited for the purpose of security / confidentiality, etc - but we do hope that the remainder will possibly be of passing interest. Anyway.....

In the late hours of New Years Eve (08) / early hours of New Years Day (09) the alarm system at the store in question was triggered twice. A response team was dispatched to the site on both occasions – approx. 4.5 hours apart - but nothing was discovered to account for the tripping of the alarms and the system concerned was re-set on both occasions. On the following day, security officers checked over the CCTV footage for the store and discovered an 'anomaly' present on the recordings corresponding to the entrance area of the store. Initial reports reaching the W.M.G.C. mentions circular, smoke-like effects seen passing in front of the camera and a 'definite' figure on the footage.

In the days that followed, a group member spoke with the general manager of the store and we were asked to visit them and view the footage concerned. During this conversation, it was ascertained that the store had a reputation for ‘strange goings on’ among the staff members and that the ground on which the store stood had once belonged to a local celebrity. This was of particular interest to the group, as we had been aware of an alleged haunting associated with this land for many years.

A visit to the store was arranged for Tuesday 27th of January at 11 am.

On viewing the footage concerned, it was noted that data noted in the initial report was somewhat erroneous.

At 10.20 pm on New Year Eve, a peculiar effect appears on footage obtained by a (foyer based) camera (mounted above / left of foyer to store doors) which is pointing towards the external doors from foyer to car park area. The effect concerned is a vague distortion in the left hand side of the footage. Not identifiable as transient mist / smoke effect – i.e. drifting past camera, etc – but a semi-transparent distortion that gives an impression of moving around slightly in the same portion of the image.

Unfortunately, the image is not of the best quality and actually trying to identify the distortion to any real extent is hindered by the pixellation of the image, which appears especially bad around where the distortion is appearing.

After some minutes of this effect remaining on screen, the doors leading from the foyer into the store itself – automatic, on a PIR sensor - are seen to open and close of their own volition. With the (recording) camera mounted above and to the left of the doors concerned, the action of the doors is clearly seen reflected in the glass of the foyer / car park doors immediately opposite. It is the action of the doors opening and closing that sets off the building alarm system. (The response team are subsequently seen on the footage entering the building, etc).

Viewing the rest of the footage on fast forward, the distortion effect appears again later on in the recording, and the foyer / store doors are seen to open and close again at 2.46 am (New Years Day) – once again resulting in the security team attending the premises.

The general manager tells us that CCTV specialists had been out to look at the camera in the days following and could not explain the effect. No faults were found with the equipment and nothing was found on the camera lens, etc.

At this point in our visit, a member of staff – who has worked at the store (on and off) for thirty years – was interviewed. He said that, many years ago, he had been in the store overnight to supervise a maintenance crew conducting repairs. After the crew had finished, he had let them out of the building (some time around 2 a.m.) and had busied himself with chores to while away the hours until security arrived around 6 a.m. At one point, he had been on an upstairs landing in the store and had seen the figure of an elderly gentleman standing nearby. He could make out a woolly, brown coat and grey trousers – and a large bunch of keys hanging from a ring fastened to his belt. He had called out to the man – thinking it was a workmate who had come in early – but the figure didn’t respond and walked away, out of sight. He had gone to look for the man, but couldn’t find anyone on the premises.

A day or so later, a work colleague bought a book into the store dedicated to local history and, on leafing through the book, the above-mentioned witness saw a photograph of the previous owner of the store site. He identified this as the man he had recently seen… the figure in the photograph wearing a large ring, loaded with keys, attached to his belt.

On a later occasion, he had been working in the store overnight and had felt a chill suddenly come over him. He apparently turned around and saw a mist-like effect travelling along the aisle towards him. He had immediately fled the scene and took refuge in the canteen area. On later returning to the shop floor he had witnessed a number of Kit-Kat chocolate bars seemingly fall off a shelf of their own volition. On describing the mist-effect he had seen, he likened it strongly to the distortion caught on the CCTV footage.

We were told that, over the years, a number of people had experienced different things at the site, another ex-staff member (named) having reported seeing a figure whilst working in the store overnight. An Asian staff member is said to have been working in the foyer at one point recently – serving a customer – when a number of shopping trolleys had apparently moved on their own. The customer is said to have fled the scene.

At this point during our visit, there is a suggestion that the face of a woman has been seen on the CCTV footage by certain staff members, so the tape is duly re-viewed again. No sign of a woman wearing a bonnet is seen – no effect suggesting such an image, etc – and it is discovered that a recording from a second camera covering the foyer area (including the region covered by the first cam) has recently been wiped clean......

Unfortunately - as with most cases, there is no 'tidy' or 'neat' ending to this matter. The W.M.G.C. have requested store management to keep us informed of any further developments - be it anomalies on security footage, or more, first-hand encounters with staff members, etc.

Needless to say, watch this space for further updates..........???


The W.M.G.C.

Great Barr 'Ghost' Follow-up....

In response to last weeks Walsall Advertiser appeal for ghost stories related to Barr Beacon, a substantial letter from a Mr. Alan Petty appeared in this weeks edition. He had written in to say that, during a recent visit to the area, he'd spotted three men riding around dressed as 'cowboys', complete with hats, boots, chaps and ankle-length coats....

Somewhat shaken by his sighting, Mr. Petty wondered whether he had suffered some form of ghost sighting, or perhaps an hallucination.... that was, until he came across fresh mound of horse manure, which evidently pointed towards something more substantial!!

A further sighting of the three riders entering a stable in a nearby lane and watering their horses clinched the matter. He then ponders: "Do the trio of cowboys that I and other people have no doubt seen also have a higwayman costume each that they like to dress up in?"

A most valid question indeed! And we echo Mr. Petty's sentiments in his parting comment: "So, come on you three old boys, own up to this caper and put an end to the 'ghosts of Barr Beacon' mystery".......

Hopefully, more to follow......?


The W.M.G.C.

Ghostly Extra?

The intriguing image above was sent to the W.M.G.C. in January (09) by Mr. John Riley* who lives in the Midlands area. John had been out with his daughter one evening to a popular, country bar / restaurant, when a simple snap-shot taken with a camera phone resulted in this mysterious image.

Over the last 20 years, we have been presented with many different types of photograph, showing many different types of anomalies, but Mr. Rileys picture certainly stands out as one of the most perplexing that we've seen so far.

Had the mist-like effect shown been present in the very front portion of the image - i.e. in front of the subject herself - then it would most likely have been presumed to be a simple by-product of smoke, or perhaps breath, showing up as close proximity contamination. However, as the anomaly is clearly behind the subject, then this cannot really be the case in this particular instance. To illustrate the point: the 'mist' can clearly be seen both above and below the girls arm - the arm cutting across the anomaly - showing it to be situated 'behind' her.

The one suggestion that we have regarding the picture is that it might possibly be some form of 'motion blur' affecting the image - as in an object or a person somehow caught in the process of moving through the image and being mis-interpreted by the camera? Such effects have been produced in the past, though this usually incorporates an object moving at excessive speed.......

Of course, some people who have seen the photograph have suggested that it has been faked in some way? (Such skullduggery being a very common and ever present problem in this paranormally-charged, digital age, needless to mention!!) Having met personally with Mr. Riley, the group obtained a phone to phone transfer of the original image (and all of the associated data) which greatly rules out - or at least curbs - the prospects of a simple fraud. Furthermore, Mr. Riley and his daughter have remained exceptionally unbiased about the nature of the image; both seem most genuine and constant in their testimonies and have clearly stressed to us that they don't particularly believe in ghosts. To them, the anomaly shown is not paranormal!

Having spoken with the proprietor of the property concerned about the image, group members were told that the site was allegedly haunted, but he had never experienced anything at all untoward in his time there. The building itself was constructed in the 18th Century and has served many purposes over the last 200+ years, prior to it's recent development into the popular hostelry that it is today.

Whatever the true nature of this image - plain old camera effect or spooky interloper - it certainly stands as a most intriguing photograph indeed....

We would greatly welcome any comments and input that you might have on the subject?

(*Note - pseudonyms have been used in this account to protect the photographer, etc).

All the best,

The W.M.G.C.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Great Barr Ghost Interest.......

Over the years, a number of stories associated with the Great Barr area have come to the attention of the W.M.G.C.

There is said to be an indellible blood stain on the floorboards of one cottage in the area and, in a lane not far away, the apparition of a darkly dressed man loiters in a dip in the road and 'bothers' passing motorists. Again, not very far distant, the ghost of Lady Scott is reputed to haunt the old Great Barr Park and it is possibly her willowy, white shade that has been spotted floating over the lake there; a form said to be responsible for luring one young man into the murky waters and causing him to suffer a mental breakdown. The shadowy figure of a man stands and stares at passing horse riders near certain farm out-buildings and an equally shadowy female figure crosses the yard of another holding and appears in the grounds of a nearby property...... the list could go on and on.

Vanishing hitch-hikers, a phantom coach, poltergeist activity in a local club house - all of the above and more has been reported over recent years.

Quite recently, however, two further - most intriguing - stories have come to our attention. Both experiences are wholly different in nature, occuring in different parts of the region, but they have served to collectively 'peak' - or, more accurately, 'revitalise' - our interest in the region once again.

In the first instance, a family had just stopped at a set of traffic lights at the bottom of Barr Beacon hill, when - on a grassy area nearby - the mother suddenly noticed 3 men seated on huge, chestnut horses. (She says that the men were not there when they came up to the lights, as she would have surely seen them as they approached). With some incredulity, she saw that the figures were all wearing cloaks, long boots, masks, hats....... and at least one of the men appeared to be carrying a long barrelled, musket-style pistol. She found herself instantly mesmerised by the strange sight, but said nothing to the other occupants of the car and just watched the riders.

At this point, the man nearest the road turned his head and looked straight at her. She says that he had dark, straight, collar-length hair. Interestingly, she noted that the mans piercing eyes clearly seemed to indicate 'confusion' as he stared back at her(?)

The witness says that she then 'came back to reality' and was aware that the car she was in was now progressing through the traffic light junction. She instantly asked her husband if he had seen the 'highwaymen', but when she went to indicate where the figures where - they had gone! On describing what she had just seen, she was met with considerable derision!!

In the second account, a woman and her partner were exploring the area around Barr Beacon (hill) when they entered a particular, fenced field. Suddenly, the woman says that she felt the most overwhelming sense of 'evil' come over her...... as if something 'bad' was approaching. Her boyfriend must have sensed exactly the same thing as, without communicating, both rushed to exit the field via the fence. (She comments that this reaction came as an automatic response). She likened the experience to the sequences in movies, where you see the camera following someone as if it is chasing them and indicated that this was how it felt..... like something was pursuing them. While they saw nothing at all, she says it felt as if she had encountered 'pure evil'. Once out of the field, they both felt perfectly fine. The presence had gone - or had possibly been 'restricted' to the field in question(?) - and they simply carried on up the hill to the monument......

After gaining the permission of the witnesses concerned, an appeal for more information was made in the local press and the resulting article appeared in the Walsall Advertiser and Great Barr Observer for Thursday the 2nd of April.

To say that we were somewhar surprised by the response recieved could be described as something of an understatement! The first phone call came in the day after the article had been published:

"Those 'highwaymen' that you're looking for up on the Beacon...."


"Well, they're not ghosts!!"

The initial caller - a metal-detectorist who frequents the Barr Beacon area - professed to having seen three 'strangely clad' riders a number of times...... and had even spoken to them on one occasion!! In speaking of his first sighting of the men in question, he had to admit that he too had thought them to be something 'not of this world', likening their appearance (at a distance) to 'something out of a period drama'.

Two subsequent calls from other witnesses have also related similar details and sentiments. All winesses have spoken of the riders peculiar attire - one suggesting the possible involvement of an historical re-enactment group, or some such - but all intimated that the horsemen concerned were 'of this world' and not 'otherworldly' in nature!

Whoever - or whatever - these horsemen might be, you can rest assured that Ghost Club members will be making a determined effort to 'bump into them' over the coming weeks.... Watch this space for potential updates!!

But what of our other confidante and her 'sense of evil'?.....

One phone call recently received didn't actually feature the 'peculiar' riders, but came from a gentleman who claimed to have had a most unusual experience some 25 years ago on top of Barr Beacon.

He told us that he and three family members had been returning home from an evening out when the path of their car was blocked by an enormous, black dog. At first the witnesses thought that the animal might have been an escaped calf, it was so large. As they sat and watched, the creature is said to have walked around the front of the car, staring in at the terrified occupants with bright, red eyes. It was clearly 'not afraid of anything' (as our witness puts it) - and the overall experience lasted some 30 or so seconds before the creature eventually disappeared.......

While there is no glaring connection between the black dog encounter and the evil presence, it would appear that both experiences occurred in roughly the same area. Our witness who reported the disturbing feeling spoke of a 'primal feel' to her encounter and, should there be any substance to the myriad black dog sightings that litter British ghostlore, then they must - surely - be construed as potentially 'elemental' in nature? There are rumours of an ancient standing stone having been located on the Beacon itself, so who knows what ancient rites and practices may have taken place here and what 'ripples' such events could have caused over the subsequent centuries......?

Hopefully, our interest and appeals in these quarters will continue to generate reports from this region. Needless to say, we will be sure to keep you appraised, if and when they appear....

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Monday, 6 April 2009

2009 and onward!!!!

It only seems 5 minutes since the idea of actually setting up the W.M.G.C. was voiced, but - here we are - some 20 years later and we're still going strong!! Having got off to a good start in the new year, we are endeavouring - as a celebratory move - to make 2009 our best year so far!! Fingers firmly crossed!!

While the website has - since 1997 - greatly constituted the actual 'voice' of the group, we have, for some while, been toying with the notion of also running a complementary blog as a parallel concern. This would mainly be intended as an on-going, informal, yet informative medium.... to expound more fully on some of the Clubs cases and other matters of interest that are being brought to our attention.

And.... we solemly promise that all details herein will be relevant to the workings of the W.M.G.C. in some way. We are not at all interested in displays of general, token 'copying from other sources' being passed off as our work!!

As with our website - please visit us regularly... leave comments and do let us know what you think of our posts.

Best wishes to all,

The West Midlands Ghost Club