Spectral spectacle drew big crowds in Jarrow

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MUCH is made of social media’s tendency to seize on something – a comment, a story – and suddenly be all over it, chipping in its own half-penn’orth.

In a way, it’s the 21st century equivalent of what was, in previous eras, the public’s love of a spectacle.

In the 19th century, it was a recognised phenomenon that anything out of the ordinary – even an accident – would draw large crowds to spectate.

The ghost stories I’ve mentioned from time to time were of that ilk.

I’ve just come across another, when, in 1891, for two or three hours at a time over several nights, huge crowds blocked Western Road in Jarrow after reports that the spectre of a young woman had been seen gliding about the upstairs of a house.

But what amused me is that, like Facebook, Twitter etc today, everyone had to have their say, a lot of the upset being attributed to the behaviour of these crowds, “for their comments were neither helpful nor wise, and not infrequently were rude”.

In the end the police had to be called in before things settled down.