Pelsall Ghost Stories 2020

A Haunted School in Pelsall

It wasn't until I started doing my ghost walks that I was told about this incident by a number of witnesses when I passed the school which I will not name in this article.

When I was told about this haunting I was surprised to hear of how many witnesses there were to the paranormal activity at this school, the events of which occurred in the late 1970's.

 

If you were there and also witnessed events at this school, I hope that this article will stir up memories and perhaps prompt you to share what you witnessed.

 

At the time, it seems that this haunting was common knowledge.  I was surprised to have met so many people on different occasions who had witnessed this ghost or forms of paranormal activity connected with it during their time at this school.

With the passing of time, it seems that the incident leading to the haunting at this school is all but forgotten.

However, it is believed that the tragic death of a pupil which is said to have occurred in the late 1960's or early 1970's caused the haunting.  It was said that a young boy somehow managed to get himself entangled in a roller towel (fabric hand drying equipment) in the boys toilets.  When it was noticed how long the boy was taking to get back to class, on investigation it was discovered that the boy had strangled himself with the roller towel.

 

The tragedy sent shock waves through the school and community.

Then, the figure of a young boy started to be seen by children at the school. The regularity of his appearances caused hysteria to begin with, but was somehow quietly kept within the confines of the school, which is why the story did not come to light until many years after the events.  By then knowledgeable staff and pupils had long since moved on.

With the passing of time, memories of the little boy and the tragic incident have all but faded, however for a certain number memories of the ghostly boy will always be there.

In the late 1970's, the ghostly boy appeared to have attached itself to a little boy who could see him and talk freely with him in class, much to the annoyance of the teacher.  Any doubt that the boy was interacting with a spirit was soon quashed when drawers in the classroom started to open and shut by themselves and objects were being frequently moved by unseen hands, including the class globe which would often turn by itself.  The entire class and teacher witnessed all of these events.  Then the heavy classroom door would open then shut by itself as it appeared that the spirit left the room.

The teacher of the class would often tell the 'chosen' pupil off when the door opened and closed by itself despite the fact that the boy was still sitting in his chair and at his desk which was nowhere near the door.

Pupils in the class could often see things in class moving of their own accord which 40 or so years later has continued to leave a lasting impression.

Then, one day, it was said that the ghost left the school building with the boy and never returned.  From that day on the school never experienced any paranormal activity again.

Mr Starbuck of JCT Commonside, Pelsall

JCT, Walsall Road, Pelsall in 2004 when still in operation  

Photograph copyright A Bates - Pelsall Times

A few weeks ago I received an email from Mr Colin Kinsey who used to work at JCT, Commonside, Pelsall.  Although JCT is now long gone, Colin was keen to share with me a paranormal experience had had whilst working at JCT.

Mr Kinsey wrote:

I used to work at JCT Motors on the common and was once visited by an old man in an old style blue bib overalls and a flat cap with his arms crossed.  It was years before I told anyone, but when I did and I described the man I had seen to an old family friend I was told that the man I had seen was Mr Starbuck who was the first owner of the premises.  The family friend told me that Mr Starbuck 'lived in them overalls' and was probably looking over things because he didn't like banks.

If any readers know of Mr Starbuck or would like to share their paranormal experience at JCT, I would be delighted to hear from you.

The Haunting of Riddings Garage and

Petrol Station

Riddings House prior to its demolition

Photograph courtesy of Mr Andrew Weller, Pelsall History Centre

When Colin contacted me about the haunting of JCT it reminded of an article I wrote some time ago regarding Riddings Petrol Station of Wolverhampton Road, Pelsall which was also haunted by what was believed to be a previous occupant of Riddings House which once occupied the site.

In this case there were numerous witnesses to this 'regular' visitor who liked to have his presence felt.

Since being built in the Victorian era, Riddings House was home to a succession of very wealthy and influential families of Pelsall including Edward Barnett and John Starkey who were major businessmen in Pelsall during the Victorian times.

In the 1950's The Riddings was occupied by the Hare family who had their own coachman and kept foxhound which were used for frequent hunts.  Later on part of the grounds nearest to Wood Lane were used to play tennis.  These grounds were enclosed by a high rock wall which contained about eight courts.

In the 1960's, along with many other significant buildings in Pelsall, Riddings House was demolished to make way for progress and Riddings Garage and Petrol Station was built shortly afterwards.

Shortly after being built, it wasn't long before the staff of Riddings Garage and Petrol Station started to experience paranormal activity.  Although they were never able to pinpoint the cause of the paranormal activity, staff of Riddings Garage and Petrol Station complained of regular and 'unpleasant' paranormal activity.

Staff in the shop part of the petrol station often complained of being aware of an un nerving presence in the shop.  It was not unusual for staff members to be aggressively pushed past by an unseen force which was was said to freak them out because they couldn't see anything there.  Over time, staff got used to this and came to attribute paranormal activity to 'Mr Hicken'.

At the time of my research, I was able to interview a former mechanic at Riddings Garage who was able to shed some considerable light on paranormal activity in the Garage area.  To begin with, he was quick to tell me that although no apparitions were ever seen, as far as he knew, there was a definite ominous presence there.  A whole catalogue of strange things went on suggesting that workers were never alone and under close observation.  There was always something happening in the office and the workshop. 

Whilst working in the garage, lights would frequently go on and off for no reason which was frustrating because it stopped progress of work.  It was also common for things to disappear then turn up where they shouldn't be, which was frustrating for the mechanics as again it would stop progress of work.  It was as if the spirit was purposely trying to make things difficult for them rather than playing a game.  The most un nerving thing was that they always felt someone was there and they were being watched.  Although no one ever saw any apparitions, staff were in no doubt that the garage and shop were haunted.

Staff who worked there firmly believed that their resident ghost may once have lived at Riddings House and may not have been too pleased by what had replaced their once beautiful home and grounds.

It appears that following the demolition of Riddings House, former occupants have been reluctant to leave.

Riddings Garage and Petrol Station was demolished in May 2013 to make way for the building of new properties.

I've not heard yet whether paranormal activity has continued within the walls of the new properties.

Riddings Garage and Petrol Station prior to its demolition in 2013

Photograph copyright A Bates - Pelsall Times

If you would like to share your memories of any of the above or you would like to share your paranormal experience, please get in touch.

A MODERN DRUID‘S PERSPECTIVE ON GHOSTS

 

Animals, Ancestors and all things that go Bump.

 

 

Our story begins...

 

It is December 6th, 2019. I have just moved in to a 200-year-old cottage, it is my partner’s and I’s first home together. We moved here because of the rich heritage it holds but... there were also stories attached to this property... Stories of a child ghost... witches who used to live here and the fact that this home has its share of bumps in the night.

 

A week after moving in, and I am beginning to clean around my newly bought home. I notice the mirror at the top of the stairs is loosely connected to the wall. As a druid, I take notice to the spirits of place. When my partner comes home, I tell him that he needs to fix the mirror better to the wall, or it is just going to be a game for any spirits, knocking it off to our dismay. Within a second of saying that, the mirror falls to the ground with an almighty bang. I sit their smiling... I know the spirits are making themselves known. I hear them and they hear me...

 

My name is Tom and I am a modern Druid. I am a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and a member of the British Druid Order. My magical, spiritual and philosophical training is combined with both orders. I do not speak for all druids in this article and would only like to share my own experiences and views of ghosts. They may be different to yours and to other followers of a nature-based spirituality, and that is ok. Diversity of opinion aids discussion, debate and learning. Something, I imagine, that Socrates and Plato would definitely be into.

 

Ghosts are something that have fascinated the population for more years than we care to remember, but within Druidry, we have an approach that sees them in a different way. Not so much as ghosts... but spirits... ancestors... something we can connect with and respect in our daily ritual. I want to move away from the term spirits and ghosts and begin to use the term ancestors.

Within Druidry, we have three aspects of ancestors. We have ancestors of blood, those who are a part of our family and impact our genetic and cultural development. We also have ancestors of spirit, those wise people that came before us that effect our spiritual and moral development. It is the third ancestors that this article is concerned with, and they are the ancestors of place.

 

Within Druidry, we honour and respect the spirits of place. Those that came before, that built, nurtured and cared for the land we live upon. From the people who built and lived within our houses, to the trees and fauna that were cut down to build that house. They are all ancestors of place.

 

Within my Druidry, I have a specific altar to the ancestors. It is a place where offerings are made, those who are known are remembered and those who are not remembered are still honoured.

 

There is most definitely an ideology of “spiritually bleaching” a home. By this I mean getting rid of every energy and spirit in the place you live. The slightest bump or noise causes people to go into hysterics and ask for a complete cleanse of a home. Now here, we need to look at the difference between dark energies that infect a home and ancestors of place. How do we decern and how do we know when to help a spirit to move on or just cleanse the place and send all energies back to the place of rebirth and renewal?

 

I believe that you will know when a dark energy is in your place. I also believe that ancestors of place may sometimes have had a dark past. We need to remember here that light casts shadows. In that understanding, we can see that although we may be faced with an ancestor of place that can be perceived as dark, we need to remember that they were human, they had a soul and that soul is a part of(in my view) the great mind/god/goddess/ the universe.

 

I have learnt that, in some cases, we need to help our ancestors move on, and there are the relevant practitioners that will be able to do this. But before doing that, I must ask, can we live in harmony with these energies? I believe we can. Here is another question that comes to my mind... As they are the spirits of place in our realm... Are we the spirits of place in their realm? Are they living just as we are, continuing as the immortal soul, in the place that we are living? I do not know the answers to this, and do not profess to know the answers either. But I do feel, there is a need for an understanding that before we get out the sage or are ready to move these spirits on, we must communicate with them, honour them and seek an understanding that they lived here before us.

 

Nothing is owned, and everything is just borrowed in the very blip our life is on this sacred earth. It is from this understanding that I think one day we might be the energetic force that is being called to move on or be removed. Within my druidic practice, I honour and respect those who lived before me and those who will live after (our ancestors of the future).

 

So, at this time of Halloween (called Samhain in Druidry and other earth based spiritualities) do we become scared of and want to remove the stories of spirits and our ancestors of place? Or do we honour and remember then? Do we build a relationship of harmonious living between this realm and theirs?

 

I will leave it for you to decide, and please remember this is just my druidic ponderings from my experiences.

 

My ancestral altar remembers and respects those who have gone before me, and in that a state of balance is renewed.

 

Yes, my little 200-year-old cottage has its fair share of bumps, little hand prints between a double-glazed window and breathing in the bathroom. But that is ok, because I storm down the stairs in the morning, I tap on the window when playing with my cat and sing awfully in the shower.

 

Spirits of place, ancestors who were here before us, ghosts who bump in the night are merely there, living as we are side by side, with us.

They pretty much leave me alone, and we live in harmony together.

 

A story of mine to end...

 

We were driving back to our home late at night. As my partner and I arrived back at the house, we looked toward the front window. On one side of the window was our dog, standing with her paws up on the windowsill looking out at us... on the other side was our cat, standing on the windowsill. In the middle was a young boy, wearing a peaky blinders style hat, waiting, looking out at us. Within that split second of seeing him, he had gone, but the cat remained, rubbing herself up something we could no longer perceive...

 

I have to be honest... If my cat loves something I can’t see... I trust her... As she doesn’t even like me stroking her.

 

Tom is a modern-day druid, tarot reader, psychic and teacher. He has extensive training in the occult and Western mysteries.