Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Haunting of the Blue Ball Inn...

The following article, written by a W.M.G.C. member, appeared in the Bugle newspaper in November 2007.

They say that every pub has its ghosts…. but, if the stories are to be believed, it would seem that the Blue Ball Inn - which used to stand on the outskirts of Oldbury - had certainly experienced more that it’s fair share of activity over the years…….

When the Foster family took over the pub in 1966, they were warned that the property already had a considerable ‘spooky’ reputation. Little notice was taken of such rumours until their daughter Glynis, a science student at Keele University, was working in the bar one night and happened to notice the face of a very old man staring at her through the glass panel of a door. This incident occurred at 10.30 pm, when the pub had already been emptied of most of its patrons and locked up for the night.

Presuming it to be a customer who had arrived just too late to catch ‘last orders’, the girl went out to tell the man that they were now closed. However, upon opening the door, she discovered that he had mysteriously vanished from sight. Puzzled, she returned to her glass washing duties – only to look up moments later and find the old man staring at her through the glass pane once again!

Her mother Alice was then called into the bar and she too saw the face. Endeavouring to discover whether the effect might be some form of ‘optical illusion’, the pair carried out a number of experiments to ascertain whether the peculiar vision might well have been created by some form of environmental factor. Various lights were subsequently switched on and off, bottles moved around and so on, but – no matter what they did – the eerie face remained. Two customers, still present in another part of the building, were duly called. One of the men went to investigate, but, as with the landlord daughter, found no sign of anyone outside the building. Upon re-entering the pub – there was the face, still staring through the window! This experience supposedly proved too much for the customer and he instantly fled the building and sped off into the night…..!

In all, the face is said to have appeared at the window for some four nights in total and was seen by no less than nine people. All signed statements, agreeing that the features they’d seen were those of an old man with a beard; a small enough detail, but one that has cropped up in descriptions of the resident ghost over the space of some decades and numerous, frequently unrelated witnesses.

According to research conducted on the area by Foster family members, a coaching inn had once stood on the site, dating back at least 200 years. Local legend seemingly has a number of worthy contenders for the identity of the Blue Ball ghost. Among them is one William Parker, a servant of the Turton family of Brades Hall. It is said that he was making his way home one night after a visit to the Inn, when he was crushed to death by a collapsing chimney! Other suggestions include an old regular who was murdered in the pub during the Victorian era, or possibly another customer who had died of natural causes and ‘subsequently’ returned to visit his favourite watering hole! Whoever the ghost might have been, he was invariably described as a ‘friendly’ soul…

During the 1970’s and into the 80’s, the Fosters continued to experience peculiar happenings at the pub. The bearded figure, wearing a tweed jacket and muffler, was spotted around the property; lights were seen swinging and switching on and off of their own volition and the telephone tampered with.

One of the more startling incidents once again involved their daughter. While she was readying herself for bed one night, she happened to notice that her pet dog was cowering in the corner of her bedroom and seemingly watching something. Upon turning to see what was disturbing the animal, she says that she found herself confronted by a ‘fairly large, blue apparition’….. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, her immediate reaction was to dive into bed and hide, shivering with fear, under the covers. The encounter came to an end when her mother called to her, enquiring what she was doing walking around on the landing? In fact, no one had been on the landing during this period; though reports of ‘inexplicable footsteps’ were certainly not an uncommon feature of the Blue Ball haunting…..

After the aforementioned incident, a cold, unnerving atmosphere remained in Glynis’ bedroom, eventually forcing her to move to another part of the property. The family dog also refused to ever enter the room again. Some reports outlining the Fosters experiences claim that the family were so perturbed by the ghostly happenings that they were forced to stop using the entire first floor of the property.

Sadly, the Blue Ball Inn has long since shared the same fate as many other Black Country hostelries and fallen to the might of the bulldozer….. A recent visit to the area in which the pub formerly stood reveals that a commercial premises – which sells garden sheds - now stands on the site.

But what of the ghost now, we wonder?


West Midlands Ghost Club

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