An Experience in Northfield, Birmingham
The following is an account of a strange experience (sent via e-mail) that happened to Roy Brown in the Northfield area of Birmingham during the early 1960s. We would be interested in hearing from anyone who knows anything about ‘Mrs Kelly’.
Back in the early 1960s I was a young police officer working from Cotteridge Police Station near King’s Norton, Birmingham. I became very friendly with an older colleague who lived in a group of police houses near Northfield on the edge of the area we covered. I don’t know if you know the area, but if you go from Cotteridge along Middleton Hall Road and Bunbury Road you eventually meet up with Bristol Road at Northfield. Just before the end the road makes a right swing and becomes Church Road – and this is where my friend lived.
Opposite his home was a row of very old cottages; some lived in, and other in various stages of dilapidation. They are not there now, having been knocked down to make way for a road extension. The whole area is of late Victorian houses surrounded by a large number of trees, and can appear quite ghostly in moonlight, especially when there is a light breeze. Many people would not walk along that road at night – it just had that sort of feeling to it.
One night, around three o’clock, I was on night duty pedal cycle patrol. Yes, we actually rode pedal cycles back in those days to patrol the larger areas. It was a moonless night, as I remember, and I had passed down that road on many previous occasions. My mind was in neutral reaching the end of a long night with not a lot happening. As I passed the row of cottages on the right-hand-side I was aware of a light in one of the windows – not an electric light but a sort of flickering. I thought at first that it was a reflection from nearby streetlights but there were none in the immediate vicinity, so I decided to investigate.
As I approached the cottage concerned I was aware that the light was caused by a candle flickering in the dark of the interior. I looked closer and saw an old woman, her hair tied up in a bun, rocking to and fro in a rocking chair. It was this rocking which was causing the flickering, as the woman kept passing in front of the candle. As I peered through the window her head turned and she looked straight at me. I waved, received no acknowledgement, remounted my bike and rode on.
Towards the end of my tour of duty I met my friend and asked about the old lady in the rocking chair who lived opposite him. “Oh,” he replied, almost casually, “you’ve met Mrs. Kelly.”
I remarked that three a.m. was a rather late hour to be up and about – or early, depending on your viewpoint. My friend smiled and said, “She’s often around at that time. She died about ten years ago, you know.”
At first I thought he was having a little fun at my expense, but there was something about him that convinced me he was not joking. For a start, he didn’t seek to spread the word. When I quizzed him further he told me that he often sees her and she sometimes disappears if spoken to. On other occasions she can be seen outside her front door, he said. So far as he knew, I was the only person to have a recent sighting.
Still not entirely convinced, I finished my tour, by which time it was daylight. I decided to take another ride up to the cottages. What I saw when I got back there made my skin creep. The cottage was there, right where I described it, but the windows were boarded up! Had I seen a ghost?
I like to think so, but try as I might I never saw that cottage again other than in its boarded up state.