When something walked through a wall

A spooky corridor.
A spooky corridor.

I promised you some more scary stories from these parts, so with Halloween just a witch’s breath away, here goes.

Back in the day, The Long Bank, in Shields, was supposedly haunted by Jack The Hammer.

This noisy phantom, said to be a wandering tinker who died alone in a house in the area, is credited with hammering on the gable ends of houses shortly before a storm broke.

In Holborn, the Old Hall (which dated back to the 17th century) was reputed to have been haunted by not just one, but two ghosts – a woman dressed in white and a soldier.

“Strange noises were often heard from a locked room to which no key existed,” reports an old Gazette book.

“And on one of the grand mantlepieces in the house were finger marks in blood which could not be erased.”

In East Holborn, there was The Red Lady, who is associated with the old Hop Pole Inn.

Dressed in vivid scarlet, she is said to have chanted songs (accompanied by flickering lights and clanking chains).

It is said that she could be seen looking over the river “beckoning sea captains ashore”.

Thanks again go to South Tyneside paranormal expert Andrew Ross, who recalled the tale of the ghost at the Turks Head pub, in South Shields. According to legend, the ghost is a Roman centurion who had been stationed at the old Roman fort.

Thanks also go to South Shields’ history expert Janet Wylie, who remembers the day she and her friends went “ghost-hunting” in Charlotte Terrace.

“There were reputed to be ghosts in a particular house in Charlotte Terrace (which has since been demolished),” explains Janet.

“I must have been about 10 years old at the time. My mother had read in the Gazette that a family had reported seeing ghosts in their home in Charlotte Terrace.

“As a result, a gang of us kids went up one dark night from the Lawe Top and stood outside the house.

“We were all terrified and very spooked. This would have been around about 1964. The thrill of being frightened was always a draw. I can remember us going to St Stephen’s churchyard and scaring each other half to death.

“I was a right scaredy-cat and would hang on to my older sister, much to her annoyance.”

My next tale may not have happened in Shields, but it did involve me, so I’m going to share it with you.

It goes back to when I was just a junior reporter (so it was quite a while ago!).

On the night in question, I had been to a local council meeting which finished sometime after 9pm.

Back to the dark and deserted office I trudged, to write up my stories.

But despite the foreboding appearance of the old four-storey building, which was a warren of narrow corridors, linking one office to another (complete with a suitably creaky staircase), I was comforted by the thought that one of our photographers would inevitably join me later in the evening.

So up to the second floor I climbed, where my typewriter (no computers in those days) was waiting.

Sure enough, before long I heard someone moving about in the floor overhead (which was where the photographers’ studio and dark rooms were situated).

Happily, I continued hammering on the keyboard (I was no touch typist).

However, after a little while I started to become somewhat perturbed by the thumping footsteps coming from above.

Not only were they constant, they were becoming heavier and heavier – back and forth, back and forth – from one corner of the room to the other.

Curious, I looked out of the office window to where the photographers always parked their cars to see who was the culprit, only there was no car there.

Now that was a worry, they never walked anywhere. Nevertheless, there must be a perfectly rational explanation, so I walked along to the stairs that led to the floor above, expecting to see the lights blazing – only all was black ... very black!

Now I know I should have investigated, but instead I put on my coat and legged it.

The next day, convinced that my mind had merely been playing tricks on me, I went up to the photographers’ studio and set about retracing the route of the mysterious footsteps, only I couldn’t.

For as I attempted to walk diagonally from corner to corner (just as the footsteps had done), I found my way blocked by a solid wall – through which the person the night before had apparently navigated with ease.

Today the office is no more, but what of the phantom footstep-maker?

Well, your guess is as good as mine!