The BlackCountry as with most areas in Britain has a host of ghostly tales and legends especially as Dudley is home to the famous Dudley Castle.
We have listed a few here but if you know of any or recall being told some as a child feel free to add them here.
Have you experienced anything paranormal yourself?
Drop your stories and experiences in this setcion and share them with others...you'll be surprised how many others have the same tale to tell....you are not alone.
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The Starting Gate Public House
The Starting Gate undoubtedly stands as one of Walsall’s most haunted sites and details concerning the buildings considerable paranormal history have languished in the Ghost Club’s files for a number of years now.
In mid-June, 2002, a Club representative contacted the (then) licensee – Mr. Steven Grigg – in an endeavour to learn whether ghostly happenings did indeed still go on at the site.
Mr. Grigg told us that he only moved into the premises in October, 2001, but – during those brief 9 months – he claimed to have experienced a plethora of potential paranormal occurrences.
Steve instantly invited the Ghost Club to conduct an investigation at his pub – with the strict understanding that we did nothing to harm his resident ghost(s)! – and a visit date was set for the following week.
News of our impending activities at The Starting Gate subsequently aroused the interest of a number of newspapers, including the ‘Express and Star’, the ‘Walsall Chronicle’, the ‘Walsall Observer’, the ‘AdNews’ and ‘The Sun’.
Paranormal activity at this site has long been associated with the ghost of a former landlady, Mrs. Ethel Freeman, who is believed to have committed suicide in the cellar of the building during the late 40’s / early 1950’s.
Former licensee’s, Clive and Norma Stevenson, twice called in the Vicar of Walsall for advice on their resident ghost. The Prebendary John Jackson said that the Stevensons seemed ‘certain of a presence’ in the building.
“They called me in and I spent a considerable time with them on two occasions.” he said. “Unfortunately, I did not have enough first hand evidence to ask the Bishop’s permission to carry out an exorcism. Had they called me back a third time, I would have consulted the Bishop…”
During their time at the Starting Gate, Mrs. Stevenson told of hearing knocking and tapping noises on the floor of the building and a friend of the family felt someone place a cold hand on his shoulder as he slept on the sofa one night. On another occasion, an acquaintance of Mr. Stevenson had to go up to the pub stockroom and someone or something is said to have touched him on the back…….
Since news of the ‘W.M.G.C.’s’ interest in the site featured in the local press, Mr. Grigg was inundated with information regarding both the history of the pub and it’s ghost. Although the story could not be validated, one source apparently revealed that the aforementioned licensee’s eventually gave up their tenancy due to Mrs. Stevenson suffering a nervous breakdown, supposedly brought on by the ghostly activity at the site.
One subsequent landlord, Barry Vincent, was alone in the pub one day when he witnessed a glass ‘fly’ from a shelf and land 10 feet away, on the other side of the bar. As he stood there astonished, the lager taps suddenly turned themselves on!
Margot Vincent, Barry’s wife, noticed that sizeable lumps of cheese had mysteriously disappeared on 2 occasions. One particular chunk had been missing for two whole weeks before she discovered it’s remnants in a fridge freezer which she had carefully defrosted only two days previously!
On three occasions, Mrs Vincent claimed to have seen a white, shimmering figure flitting through the pub cellar. During each of these sightings, she had supposedly detected the distinct, sweet smell of a particular perfume said to have been popular in the 1960’s. Mr Vincent also seemed to think that the cellar was the most haunted part of the building. Although he believed that their ghost was not malevolent, he did report having to leave the cellar at times feeling ‘somewhat uncomfortable’.
Steve Grigg moved into the pub in October 2001 and, not long after taking over the tenancy, he began hearing the distinct sound of footsteps when he was supposed to be completely alone in the building. This was especially noticeable when he happened to be situated in the bar area and, at such times, he says that he could actually follow the progress of the steps across the (empty) floor above.
On Christmas Day 2001, Steve tell us that he got out of bed at 11 a.m. and immediately went downstairs to ready the pub for opening at midday. He had given his staff two days off over Christmas and, as a result, was having to run the pub by himself.
At 3 p.m., he closed for the afternoon and decided to go upstairs in order to change into a fresh shirt. He had not been upstairs since he first came down at 11.00 a.m. that morning, but, upon entering his bedroom, Steve found that his bed had been made for him and his clothes tidied up and sorted! He readily admits that this ‘really freaked him out’, as he knew no one else had been upstairs at all that day….
This also happened again at the end of January, but at this time Steve says that there were now other people living on the premises. (Though no one admits to having tidied up!!)
On one occasion, Steve’s ex-girlfriend found that she couldn’t get into their bedroom and had to call on Steve to force the door open. It took some time and effort to gain access to the room and, once inside, they discovered that the quilt and sheets from the freshly made bed had somehow been mysteriously piled against the inside of the closed door.
Of all the uncanny happenings Steve has had to contend with during his short tenancy, there is only one experience that can be said to actually frighten him to any great extent. The occurrence concerned is likened to ‘something invisible passing through you’ and is a phenomenon that Steve has encountered some five or six times in the space of eight months! “It’s not just cold” he says, “It really hurts and stops you dead in your tracks……One second you are standing in normal room temperature – and then suddenly ‘it’ hits you!”.
During one such encounter, Steve happened to be standing directly in front of the cellars digital thermometer and watched it’s readout plunge from fourteen degrees - down to three – and then straight back up again! During another, he almost fell down the pubs (somewhat treacherous) cellar steps………..!
Strangely, these encounters would seem to be restricted to the cellar area and one small section of the bar, just opposite the cellar door. Steve’s last experience with this particular phenomenon was just over a week before the date of the first W. M. Ghost Club visit.
A number of people claim to have heard someone calling their name and - when they have gone to investigate - they often find that no one has actually called to them. This has happened so many times, Steve has even gone as far as to have an intercom installed between the bar and his cellar office!
Inv. One: Fri. 21st – Sat. 22nd June 2002.
Investigators Present: Nick Duffy, Darren Simpson, Roger Simpson and Len Jackson.
During our visit to ‘The Starting Gate’, a number of video and audio recording sessions were conducted in different locations around the premises. Following our vigil, all of the recordings were thoroughly checked over and nothing of a potentially paranormal nature was detected.
The only peculiar incident to occur during the visit was when group member, Len Jackson, encountered inexplicable ‘feedback’ from his micro cassette recorder during an early morning interview session with Steve Grigg.
Appendix To Inv. One
As often occurs following our investigations, we subsequently learned that alleged activity at the site in question apparently intensified since our visit. In the days immediately following the vigil, inexplicable noises were heard around the building; the lights on the pubs main stairwell switched on and off 6 times in one night and a hose pipe in the cellar was unravelled and a quantity of water sprayed around the room.
Following our initial visit to the Starting Gate, landlord Steve Grigg was literally inundated with information on the history of the pub from members of the public. One letter even came from Turkey, sent by an ex-landlady who had experienced considerable paranormal activity at the pub during her tenancy. (Margot Vincent – as mentioned during the initial section of this diatribe). News of the case was even found to be doing the rounds of U.S. paranormal related web sites into late 2003.
Press coverage regarding our initial visit also inspired members of the public to call us with information. One elderly gentleman rang the group with intriguing data on the alleged murder of a barmaid during WWII and Mr. Chas Mason of Brownhills kindly offered his considerable knowledge of ‘Ethel’ (the suicide landlady) and priceless insight into pre-1980’s ghostly activity at the pub.
Alleged ghostly activity continued in the interim between visits, with one of the most spectacular occurrences happening just after our 1st investigation.
Apparently, around 8 pints of beer mysteriously poured onto the bar floor one day when a pump appeared to turn itself on in front of a room full of customers. What puzzled Steve so much was the fact that the pump concerned wasn’t actually connected to any beer barrels at that time!
The incident clearly left staff feeling jumpy about entering the cellar and stock now has to be stored in the pub kitchens.
A system of smoke alarms, situated throughout the building, kept going off by themselves. For some reason, the alarm in the cellar always seems to be the first to trip, despite the fact that there is no obvious cause.
On one occasion, the power to the stereo behind the bar switched off and on again, and the C.D. running at the time had simply carried on playing. Steve pointed out that this should have been quite impossible, as, under such circumstances, the C.D. resets itself and doesn’t play until the relevant button is manually pressed.
Steve believes he saw the figure of a young woman with blonde, bobbed hair, wearing a knitted suit, standing at his bedroom door on one occasion. (Described as very 60’s in appearance). A female member of staff also reports having seen a woman with long hair and wearing what appeared to be a ball gown on one of the upper floors of the building.
Just after Christmas (2002), a novelty Santa figure – who had been hanging from a top floor window of the building for the duration of the festive season - was found lying on the 2nd floor landing. No one on site could account for it having been moved.
One of the bar girls at the pub recently complained to Steve that a barrel of mild needed changing. Knowing that the barrel concerned shouldn’t have run dry so quickly, Steve checked it out and found that the pump tap had been switched off in the cellar.
Late 2002, Steve allowed a number of (so called) ‘psychics’ to spend a few hours sitting in the pub cellar. Unfortunately, one of the group concerned was believed to have been working in conjunction with the W.M.G.C. – which they most certainly were not! - otherwise such an event would not have been allowed to take place.
Despite psychic powers and the use of a divining pendulum, the group concerned apparently came up with very little. They did however claim to have detected ‘something’ in one of the corners of the office section of the cellar and at another site under the cooler unit…….
Inv. Two – Monday 10th to Tuesday 11th February 2003
Investigators present: Darren Simpson, Len Jackson, Vivienne Harrison, Mary Thornton and Nick Duffy.
Video recording and manned vigil sessions were staged throughout the early hours of Saturday morning from approx. 2.00 a.m. til 6.00 a.m.
Temperature readings in the cellar area fluctuated between .5 and .3 of a degree – at the site of a smoke alarm near the stairs - and went from 16.2 to 14.00 degrees between 2.00 a.m. and 3.30 a.m.; back up to 16.0 degrees at 5.00 a.m. and back down to 14.0 degrees by 5.40 a.m.
Nothing of a potentially paranormal nature was detected by anyone present during the night.
Upon checking through the video footage taken at the site, it was discovered that – around 2.18 a.m. – the lighting in the pub cellar switched off and on quickly. A click can be hear on the recording, as of the light switch itself being manually manipulated.
At first it was argued that someone within the building could have possibly been responsible for this action, as the switch to the light is situated at the top of the cellar steps – easily accessible to someone standing in the passage leading to the main stairway to the building. Nick Duffy was seated at the bar, overlooking the cellar door, for the whole of the recording session concerned, though, practically speaking, it would probably still be possible for someone to covertly slip their arm around the doorframe and manipulate the light switch if careful enough. (*Such an event – i.e. hoaxing an effect – would be exceptionally unlikely, both from a practical viewpoint and from a simple trust in anyone on site at that point. However, if we are to be truly open minded about the event, all avenue's have, by necessity, to be debated).
However, at the end of the recording session concerned, the clear sound of the cellar door being opened by the investigators responsible for the recording apparatus can be heard. This proves that the cellar door was shut at the time of the aforementioned event and, given the noise created by the spring loaded door, it is hard to consider that someone could have easily opened it in complete silence to perpetrate a hoax event.
Nothing else of a potentially paranormal nature was found on any of the other recordings taken that night.
Inv. Three - Friday 2nd to Saturday 3rd of May 2003
Investigators present: Nick Duffy, Len Jackson, Darren Simpson, Frazer Smith, Matthew Hudson, Vivienne Harrison, Mary Thornton.
Video recording and manned vigil sessions were conducted throughout the duration of our stay.
Temperature readings fluctuated within 1.5 degrees in the cellar area and within a degree on an upstairs (1st floor) landing.
During a vigil in one of the 1st floor bedrooms, both Frazer Smith and Matt Hudson reported seeing a green light – about the size of a finger tip – moving around one wall of the room. This was not seen by Nick Duffy.
Nothing of a potentially paranormal nature was detected on any of the video / audio recordings made during the stay.
Subsequent to our third investigation at the Starting Gate, an increase in the W.M.G.C. case load led to a significant decrease in the amount of time that we were able to dedicate to any one site. As a result, no further arrangements were made regarding overnight visits to the pub. Group members did endeavour to keep in sporadic touch with Steve Grigg and activity at the pub was reported to have continued unabated.
At the time of writing this footnote, it has recently been discovered that the site is now under new management. Coincidentally, a fresh haunting has (only this week) been reported to us from premises some mere 20 yards distant from The Starting Gate…..
I was standing outside of that pub on Friday .Just waiting for someone , not waiting for a drink
Ive known for a long time about the paranormal activity there because its been well publicised and known about locally. I didnt realise though just how much had gone on there.Is it known if there is still disturbance at the pub ??
A dog wags its tail with its heart" - Martin Buxbaum
Ooooh - not the best place to stand Zaffira!! It have to admit that it was one of the roughest places that I've ever had the misfortune to visit!! One of our members walked into the place one evening and tapped a couple of burly skinheads (with a staffie on a bit of rope) on the back, saying 'Excuse me Gents - is the landlord about?' Of course, they turned round...... and they were both women!!
We were asked by subsequent landlords if we would go into the pub and investigate for them, but a couple of other (biased) groups had been in in the meantime - so we declined the offer, to be honest.
Is he absolutely certain that no-one crept upstairs and played a practical joke - bearing in mind the history of the pub ?
A fascinating article though Nick. I wish I lived nearer, I'd love a look around.
"Two men looked out from behind prison bars: one saw the gutter, the other saw the stars "
Nick...you never fail to impress me, and years ago back in the early 90's I used to drink at this specific pub in Walsall which was located in a side street (left off bradford Street near the town centre) and I did experience something of which I didn't quite understand...and at the time I was unaware of any spritual activity and I wasn't really a firm believer of supernatural activity at the time.
I simply popped to the toilet, but instead of using the normal basins, I used the actual 'cubical' toilet instead, and I left the door half open, and within seconds, the door slowly shut. At the time (and I remember very well) I thought that someone else may have been in the actual toilet and that they had known someone was in the cubical and had shut the door for obvious reasons....but no one else was in the toilet and having re-opened the door, I found that there was no way the door could have shut by itself because wherever you opened the door, it stayed in the exact position and it had always baffled me as to why the cubical door shut by itslef. I remember it well as this had always kinda baffled me and I could never (from that day to this) understand why the door had shut by itself.
Some toilets have doors that simply do shut by themselves due to either being incorrectly fitted, or there is a slight 'slant' of which doors shut naturally due to the way they are positioned...but this door was perfectly even, and no matter what position you left it open, it would stay that way as I had used the same cubical many times before.
It is as though someone 'slowly' shut the door....very weird considering every other time I never closed the door and nothing ever happened.
Hi Darlogirl - there could indeed have been a very real, flesh-and-blood trickster at play here, to be completely honest, but I can only relate what Steve told me and so on. This is, to a great extent, why I take so much interest in the actual relating of the 'ghost stories' themselves; we only have witness testimony to go on, of course, and witness testimony - human recollection - being what it is, well, we can only really record, as impartially as possible, what is being told to us, etc. This is why I don't like the paranormal field as a whole, because, to most groups / people involved in such things, 'ghost stories' are regarded as 'hard fact' on which to build their respective investigative endeavours / opinions....... and this is so wrong from so many different angles.
Hi SusySwan! Can I ask if you were made aware of the alleged haunting associated with the site during your tenancy of the pub?
Thank you Andy - I always aim to please!!
I know the toilet door routine well, to be honest Andy. I'm the sort of pillock who ends up standing outside cubicles in public lavatories (and yes' I do get 'those' sorts of looks at times!! ) because I don't know whether they are occupied or not, as the doors invariably swing shut of their own accord!!! Of course, if I do pluck up courage to try a door, it will be the one that is occupied and the occupant has neglected to bolt the blummin thing after entering!!!! (all of the other cubicles will be empty, of course!! )
Do you know, I've been sitting here trying to recall where the Starting Gate loos are situated and what they looked like!!?? I think you had to cross a narrow passage, off the bar, to get to them? Oh - the sorts of things you end up thinking about on the BCG Forum at 7.47 in the a.m.!!!!!!!
Nick....I get the same strange looks whenever I need to go to the toilet in ASDA Darlaston...
Both cubicals are closed (or look closed)...and I wait...and wait...and wait...only to find they are both empty!
Back to the original subject....I think there was a passage way to the toilets at the starting gate....not totally sure though as it was around 1990-91 so it has been a few years ago. All I know it was a bit of a walk from the bar to spend a penny...but what I do remember is that after the door mysteriously closed...it didn't take half as long to get back to the bar as it did to get to the toilet!
Asda is Murder!!! The right hand toilet door is always closed completely - I presume someone is invariably in there - so I always end up giving the slightly ajar left door a tentative tap!!
Yes - I think it was a passage that ran behind the bar and the toilets were next to the kitchen. I'm sure I had a digital camera at that point in time, so there should be a disk somewhere with some pics on it???
We where never made aware of any ghosts when we were there. when you go out of the bar there is a long passage to the toilets and the kitchen. we had a huge rat when we first when't in . and a fair few fights. but we also had some good customer.s .
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