Ghost Taverns Of The North East by Darren W Ritson and Michael J Hallowell
Well, anyone that knows me knows that pubs and ghosts are two of my favourite things so luckily this book on Ghost Taverns of the North East handily combines the two.
There are already a few books out on haunted pubs and inns, two of the most well known are The Haunted Pub Guide, by Guy Lyon Playfair and also The Haunted Inns of England by Jack Hallam. This new book by Darren Ritson and Michael Hallowell fits in nicely with them both.
The authors, both from the North East, have grown up hearing the tales of ghostly goings on in various pubs, such as The Albion Inn which Darren’s dad would take him for a drink while trying to catch a photo of the ghost. Michael feels that a pub without a ghost is like a pub with out beer. Very, very wrong!
The book starts off with a look at the history of drinking and a brief history of drinking houses in the North East. Linking back to Norsemen who took communal drinking almost as seriously as we do nowadays. It’s interesting to note the mention of people fined for selling substandard ale and also short measures!
Anyhow, onto the hauntings. The book uses a ‘Good Ghost’ rating which the authors use to show which locations generally have more paranormal activity reported, it’s certainly not a reflection on the pub itself which they are keen to point out. I like how they’ve done this system and I can appreciate it will have taken some doing to agree on the scale. Also, some pubs naturally have more details so these are given an in-depth case study.
The various pubs featured all have their fair share of ghosts, spectral entities, poltergeist activity, strange sounds and unexplained phenomena. Bob’s Trollop’s, a pub in Newcastle has an interesting history, including the burning to death of a young ‘lady of the night’ who was killed there by a client. The pub is reputedly haunted by a former landlady who can be heard coming down the stairs, and other unexplained noises are also heard from the upper floors.
Ghostly Northumbrian pipes can be sometimes heard from Jimmy Allen’s, a pub in Durham City. A modern pub now, it used to be the city gaol-house where Jimmy was kept locked up before his execution in 1810.
A pub in Whitburn, The Jolly Sailor, is one featured in an in-depth case study. A former coaching inn already in existence in the mid-eighteenth century, reports of poltergeist like activity in the pub have been recorded in the pub, one instance distressed a cleaner in the kitchen so much she never returned. The pub also has a witnessed spectre known as the Green Lady although not much is known about her at this point. Other strange instances at the pub featured in the book certainly make this one to visit at some point in the future.
One of the pubs featured in the 1972 book, The Haunted Inns of England, is about The Marine Grotto, near Sunderland. Believed to be one of the most haunted pubs in Britain it has a fantastic history including skeletal remains of smugglers, ale disappearing from a tankard and a ghost seen through a window. In this new book the pub is now called the Marsden Grotto and the authors have gone into more depth about the tales, including their own experiences from performing vigils there which have featured in documentaries.
I give credit to the two authors for producing a well researched and enjoyable book, I certainly will be referring to it next time I’m over in the North East for a pint with friends. The A-Z format works, however, my only criticism of the book is that it would have benefited from an index of the haunted pubs featured along with a map or address to help guide people unfamiliar to the area or their locations.
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Amberley Publishing (12 Mar 2012)
Dimensions: 23 x 16.6 x 1.4 cm