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Jolly Sailor, Whitburn


The following article by Mike Ollier entitled ‘Haunted pub's 'resident ghosts' appeared on the BBC Wear website on 26 October 2009. ‘Walk into the Jolly Sailor in Whitburn and you'll receive a warm welcome from mine host, the ever-smiling Vic Hanson.

An ancient coaching inn on the northern edge of Sunderland, the pub has been at the centre of village life for over 300 years.

But this is no normal pub, oh no. It's haunted. Extremely haunted.

Legend has it that there is a Green Lady walking the passages.

A lovelorn girl who had been dumped by a visiting coachman, she pined herself away and haunts the upstairs of the pub in her fine green dress, bought to impress her would-be suitor.

There is also a Grey Lady resident in the pub though not much is known about her.

Although, it seems the Grey Lady might be an old lady as, catering manager, Sue Hanson explains: "I was cleaning upstairs when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a grey figure going into one of the bedrooms.

"It looked like a pall of smoke moving about and seemed to be an old lady."

There is also a further rumoured ghost of a Pink Lady. 

A team from the Phenomenon Paranormal organisation held a midnight investigation into the pub's ghostly goings on.

They reported a plethora of paranormal activity including a nurse called Rachael and the spirit of a man who apparently died of unnatural causes in the pub.

A further sighting was of the spectre of a World War I soldier apparently called Thomas Yewitson.

The landlord's brother Charlie has a tale to tell about an evening spent in the pub.

He says he and a few friends were in the back-room (called the cabin) one night when the room suddenly went cold and the door slammed shut.

Nothing out of the ordinary there, you might say.

But the door has a hydraulic spring on it which Geoff Capes couldn't have pushed shut.

Charlie swears he hadn't had too much to drink that evening!

Vic himself, who has had two separate stints as live-in landlord, maintains the only spirits are in the optics behind the bar and he has not encountered any of the many ghosts reputed to have made the Jolly Sailor their home.

"However, they are as welcome as all customers to the pub" he says.

This haunting was mentioned in an article promoting the release of ‘Ghost Taverns of the North East’ by Mike Hallowell and Darren Ritson, by Sarah Stoner which appeared in the Shields Gazette on 22 April 2012

The Jolly Sailor in Whitburn’s East Street has been welcoming drinkers since the 18th century – as well as a handful of ghosts.

“There are cracking yarns attached to this former coaching inn which would do justice to any book of ghost stories,” said Darren and Michael.

One tale involves a landlady in the 1990s who, after running out of Southern Comfort, volunteered to fetch another bottle from the upstairs bar for a customer.

She whispered ‘Southern Comfort, Southern Comfort’ as she walked. Suddenly, without warning, a bottle of Southern Comfort leaped from the shelf into her arms,” states the book.

In the 1980s, a ghost was blamed for jinxing the then-landlords – bringing a run of bad luck which included accidents, injuries and a devastating fire.

A cleaner employed in 1998 claimed a batch of glasses she had just cleaned were stowed away neatly behind the bar when she nipped to the toilet – despite no one else being there.

Just a few years ago, a team of painters and decorators reported a door clashing loudly in the breeze as they were working at the pub. When checked, the door was locked shut.

Other peculiar tales include rumours of a tunnel from the pub to the Marsden Grotto, as well as a resident ghost known as the Green Lady.

“If the Green Lady is responsible for paranormal activity at the Jolly Sailor, then she is doing it as anonymously as possible,” states the book. “Ghosts can be shy, too, one supposes.”


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