Here are three stories based on real-life reports of ghosts in Barrow. Names and some of the details have been changed but the accounts are real!
Just close your eyes and put your head under the pillow
“She’s here again!”
I was wide awake. It was dark, so I could feel, more than see, her standing in the corner of the bedroom. “For goodness sake, just put your head under the covers and go to sleep” was the only response from my husband who turned over and went back to snoring.
This was the second time I had seen this woman at the bottom of the bed during the night but I had also seen her downstairs standing in what had been the pantry until we converted it to become part of the kitchen. She didn’t do, or say, anything but just stood there … looking at me.
It was really unnerving.
Then I began to hear the faint sounds of a piano being played in the front room, or rather, someone practising playing the piano – rather badly. I heard it from upstairs, but as soon as I reached the door of the room, it stopped. Then my husband heard it too. The thing is, we didn’t have a piano … and neither did our neighbours.
That was even more unnerving.
I tried to explain it away by shadows and distant radios echoing between the railway line and the houses. Then one day, we were busy in the garden when my husband suddenly stood stock still and turned pale. He was looking behind me. “This woman,” he said. “Does she wear a fawn-coloured cardigan wrapped around her chest?” I turned slowly to face the way he was looking. She was standing, silent, just looking at us. Then she smiled, turned and disappeared. I reached for my husband’s hand – it was as cold and shaking as mine.
We got used to the distant sounds of piano practice – which never seemed to get better but we never saw the lady again.
We found out that Warner Street, where we lived, was known by the locals as “Piano Street”. When it was built, the new houses were bought by aspiring families and that aspiration included buying pianos and taking lessons. It was said that you could walk down the street on a summer evening, when all the windows were open and hear, in so many of the front rooms, the sounds of people practising playing the piano – rather badly.
Our Brand-new House is Built on an Old Farm Cottage
New houses on new estates don’t have ghosts. It’s not possible. Except, it is and they do. We contacted a medium to visit us to see if he could explain the ‘presences’ all the family had experienced. My husband and I didn’t say anything as we invited him.
“Hmm, pipe smoke,” he said as he walked into our living room.
“I smoke cigarettes but only outside,” I said.
“No, this is definitely old-fashioned pipe tobacco … coming from the old man who sits in his chair, there, in the corner.” Without any hints from us, he had identified the smell and the sight we often experienced when we were in that room. Nobody had lived in the house before us. “He was a farm-hand,” he told us. “He was born, lived, worked and died right here, where your house is now. He’s happy enough. He means you no harm,” the medium told us. We agreed, we had felt no animosity from his presence. We were kind of getting used to it. He didn’t bother us and so we wouldn’t bother him.
The same could not be said for the presence we often felt on the stairs and sometimes in the bedrooms. This was chill, unhappy and unsettling.
“Young lad,” the medium murmured. “More of a teenager. You’ve brought him with you,” he turned to both of us, but looked directly at me. “He won’t hurt you. He needs you. You bring him comfort. He might be a bit jealous of your two boys … may irritate them a bit, like a jealous brother could, but he’s not spiteful.”
We hadn’t told him that one of the boys had felt his duvet being pulled off him one night in bed. Or that both of them sometimes found their toys tucked away in a drawer or the bathroom cabinet. Or that I had felt a similar presence at different times in my life.
I’d had a cousin, when I was growing up. He was a bit ‘of a lad’. He didn’t really fit in with the rest of the family, but I always liked him. I put up with his silliness but I know that he was unhappy although we never talked about it. We could even, sometimes, have fun together. Of all the cousins, we were closest in age and got along the best. Nobody in the family realised how unhappy he was. Until, one day he was found dead. It was unclear what had happened. It could have been an accident or it could have been deliberate. He was fourteen at the time and I missed his silliness.
Knowing that he wouldn’t hurt my boys or anyone else in the family, I decided that if I gave him comfort, I would continue to put up with his silliness.
Daphne … loved her house so much
We loved our new house. We had been waiting for something to come up in Barrow so we could move here with our growing family and we were pleased to find one in one of the, then, new estates in the centre of the village.
Sally, my wife, noticed it first. A rather clinical, disinfectant smell; the sort of thing you smell as you walk along a hospital corridor. But we just put it down to cleaning agents used by the previous occupant. Then one evening, Sally was out with friends and I was at home with the children, who were tucked up in bed. A strong, disinfectant smell wafted around the room and then I heard gentle footsteps on the stairs. One of the kids was awake and had got out of bed – but what were they messing around with? Bleach could hurt them. I sighed and left my TV viewing to go and sort it out. Upstairs, all three children were sound asleep in their beds. The smell evaporated. Strange, but a gust of air could have blown an existing smell into the room and it was a new house to me, so I hadn’t got used to the ‘normal’ sounds and creaks as the timbers settled in for the night.
A few weeks later, I was working at home alone. Sally was at work and the children at school. There was that smell again … and footsteps on the stairs. I left my ‘office’ and stood at the top of the stairs. Nothing but a hospital disinfectant smell and a strange ‘feeling’ of someone watching me. I shook myself and went back to work deciding that we needed to buy some room deodorisers.
I forgot about it until Sally brought it up at breakfast one morning. Exactly the same experience and uncomfortable feeling of something there. “Oh, that’s Daphne,” said our younger son, casually. “She used to live here. If you say hello to her, she disappears.”
What? We started to talk to our neighbours.
Daphne had moved into the house when it first was built. She brought up her children here. “Daphne loved it here. They were such a happy family,” a neighbour told us. Sadly, her husband died from a heart attack shortly before Daphne was diagnosed with cancer. “She absolutely wouldn’t go into hospital,” we were told. “She insisted she wanted to die in her own home where she had such lovely, happy memories.” Her children arranged a hospital bed and nursing care … which included, of course, lots of disinfectant and hospital-grade antibacterial wipes.
We got used to Daphne wandering among us. The children weren’t at all concerned. To be acknowledged with a “Hello Daphne” was all she needed to go back to whatever happy place she was at.