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Eerie lighting gives rise to menace as the gate opens

Haunted Times: A Local Trail

Off the beaten track of the renowned paranormal sites such as Bolling Hall, East Bowling, our everyday surroundings provide the backdrop to many a paranormal experience.

Starting in the centre of Bradford, a spectre known as 'Chains Charlie', apparently a prisoner in the cells in City Hall, appears carrying his head under his arm.

It is well known that Sir Henry Irving, the first actor to receive a knighthood, died on the main staircase of the Midland Hotel in 1905. Some people claim to have seen Sir Henry who was managed by Bram Stoker, author of 'Dracula'.

Bradford Playhouse in Chapel Street, Bradford, is thought to have a number of ghosts given the various ghostly reports. Tina Watkin, leader of the Bradford Writers' Circle and presenter of Scribe Slot and Afternoon Stretch on BCB Radio, told us about her own eerie experiences. At the Playhouse, the figure of a man sitting in the row behind tapped her on the shoulder before vanishing. Tina then recalled a strange story about a toy car. When her son was little, he picked up a toy car that someone threw out of the window of a real car. When it was turned over the car played a tune. Tina later gave the car to her mother. After her mother's death, the car was kept next to her computer in the attic of her Denholme residence. One day, Tina heard a strange noise coming from the attic, it was music but not the same tune as the toy car normally played until she realised it was playing the tune backwards!

In the village of Denholme, near Bradford, many villagers will not venture onto the scrub land off Station Road near the former site of Denholme station after dark. For no apparent reason, a feeling of inexplicable terror has been felt by many people going there after sunset.

One of the flats down Carperley Crescent, Denholme, is haunted by an old woman who was abondened by her relatives after a family rift and was left to die alone in her flat. Her body was not found for a number of days. The woman's vengeful spirit was well known to locals in the late 1990s and reports suggest many inexplicable happenings together with a number of orbs seen flying around in the evening. Accounts by former residents and neighbours describe people being shaken by an unseen hand as well as the woman appearing in her former bedroom at night, chuntering and spitting. Lights blowing constantly and the failure of various new electrical goods have also been attributed to this woman.

The Royal public house in Denholme is also reputedly haunted according to locals who told the story of a white mist was seen floating around the rear bar's fireplace and when a local said she didn't believe in ghosts, a glass suddenly jumped in the air and smashed of its own accord.

A headless policeman rides across the fields towards St. Paul's Church, Denholme Gate and a ghostly Roman Legion tramps down the site of the old Roman road, now Old Road.

West of Denholme and what is reputed to be the ghost of Emily Bronte has been seen in a pub in Haworth's Main Street. A ghostly woman wearing a long white dress also thought to be Emily Bronte has been seen walking near the Bronte Falls area of Haworth. These sightings date back some time. The Haworth area is also home to a snow ghost, the ghost of a woman draped in long clothes seen only when it has snowed, her appearance being accompanied by the sound of a galloping horse.

The railway through Denholme was only opened around 1884, but closed to passengers after World War II in the late 1940s. Queensbury railway station, also known as the 'Queensbury Triangle' ran to Bradford, Halifax and to Keighley via Denholme. Queensbury station is famous for the Queensbury tunnel stretching almost 2.3 kilometres. In 1992, the tunnel gate was still open and although dripping with water it was possible to enter the tunnel by walking along a railway cutting, either side of which was a steep, tree-topped embankment. A ghostly train has been seen entering the tunnel by a number of people. On walking down the cutting to the tunnel mouth it actually gave the strong impression of being chased by a train to the extent of feeling the urge to keep looking behind. Some reports have suggested that the area also be haunted by a lady in white.

Not far from Queensbury and visible from Halifax railway station car park is Halifax Parish Church with its distinctive blue clock face. This site was haunted by a headless ghost that used to appear when anyone tried to wind up the clock.

Back towards Bradford and the ghost of a miner has been seen in the St Mary's Crescent area of Wyke. There was mining in the area during the 19th century. In the part of Wyke, a procession of ghostly monks can be seen on only one summer's day each year.

Sightings of a spectral being in Manchester Road and also in Bierley were reported in the 19th and early part of the 20th century. An apparition bearing resemblance to the modern day Ghostface character from the Scream films would jump out and frighten women.

A corridor in Hanson School, Swain House, Bradford, is haunted by the ghost of a former caretaker. He was seen on a number of occasions in the 1970s.

In 1982, a number of people out walking dogs in the evening reported seeing figures in white robes walking in the Dawson Wood area linking Thackley and Esholt.

During the 1980s in nearby Shipley, there were several reports of an Owlet vampire. In all reported cases, a tall, thin man dressed in black with a chalk white face and reddened lips appeared as if from nowhere, near Windhill Cemetery. This character would appear out of the blue, sporting a pair of long fang-like teeth and grinning menacingly at victims, he would seemingly float just above the ground before vanishing into thin air.

The former Pricking Mill and Pricking Locks site in Valley Road, Shipley, is haunted by strange swirling energies which leave a feeling of foreboding and great unease in some people.

There are reports of a ghostly woman who appears from the bushes and runs across a person's path before disappearing in to the murky waters of Chellow Dean, a former reservoir near Pearson Lane, Bradford. It is believed to be the spirit of a former nursing sister who became depressed after being rejected by her lover and so took an overdose before throwing herself in Chellow Dean's lower reservoir.

The bell tower at the former Allerton Middle School in Garforth Stret, Bradford, was haunted by a headless ghost, seen throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

And finally, concluding our journey in Allerton, a tale about a ghost called Rebecca was rife in the area during the early 1990s. Some stories claimed that if a person went to the old viaduct in Thornton and said Rebecca three times she would appear. Other legends claimed Rebecca haunted Allerton Lane, a steep hill connecting Allerton Road with School Green, Thornton. There is some folklore evidence to suggest that a girl called Rebecca would journey up Allerton Lane, to meet her fiancé who lived in nearby Clayton. For reasons unknown, her fiancé tired of her and apparently murdered her at the spot of the dip in the road running over the beck, near the end of what is now Bracewell Avenue. Many people who have walked down Allerton Lane claim to have seen a hooded woman in a long brown dress who is purported to be Rebecca.