Supernatural Staffordshire: the phantom Victorian schoolboy spotted on a railway line

Each week our supernatural expert reveals haunting tales from across the county.

More and more people are contacting me to talk about their own supernatural experiences – Id like to think the tide has turned and discussing the paranormal is less taboo than it used to be.

I would encourage everyone to do a simple experiment. Ask just five friends, in private, if they believe in the paranormal and have they had a paranormal experience.

Thirty-four per cent of the UK population believe in ghosts – that’s a huge 10 per cent more than believe in god.

So why is there still a stigma about people who openly profess to believe? Perhaps it’s to do with peer pressure, society and the media among other factors.

Just recently I was having a drink with a friend and the topic of the paranormal came up.

He doesn’t believe, categorically. However, we ended up chatting for a number of hours over various “what ifs” and found some surprising common ground once the initial barriers of conventional understanding had dropped.

“I would rather a mind opened by wonder, than one closed by belief,” is possibly my favourite saying, because it’s true.

Believe in it or not, the paranormal is a fascinating subject.

The diversity of experiences and depths of emotion it put us through run the full spectrum – from enlightening to absolute terror.

In 1989 Gareth was 19 and living at Barlaston.

Growing up he would spend lots of time walking around this beautiful area, surrounded by open fields and picturesque streams.

“It was an amazing time in my life” Gareth, now 47, said. “Me and my friend would go for long walks, all around Cocknage and Barlaston.

“We would roam through the fields, around the large lake at Barlaston and sit on Barlaston train platform before they fenced it all off – it was a magical time.”

One evening in July Gareth and one of his friends made their way down to Wedgwood Lake and then past the cricket club, finally coming to the white train crossing building and to there destination of the railway station.

“We used to get some sweets and drinks and sit talking about crazy things that you think about at that age, ghosts and UFOs were a big favourite of ours. We had some amazing conversations,” Gareth recalled.

Darkness had begun to fall, the station platform was still, not even the slightest breeze was blowing as some litter and a few leaves sat motionless on the black and white painted wooden platform. A rabbit ran across the empty tracks in the distance.

“That’s when we saw him, a small boy about 10-years-old who ran across the track right in front of our eyes.” Gareth told me.

“He came out of nowhere. One second he was running across the track, the next he had gone. But for the short amount of time we could see him he looked solid – like a real boy.”

Gareth described the boy as wearing old-fashioned Victorian clothing including a flat cap.

“We both saw him as clear as day and when he disappeared we both nearly jumped out of our skin,” he said.

Both boys got up immediately and ran from the station back towards Wedgwood Lake.

“I’ve seen my friend from that night recently at a reunion and he still remembers it just as I did, although he has never mentioned it to anyone as he thinks people will mock him”

Many more people will experience ghosts and other paranormal events tonight just as Gareth did that night back in 1989.

The Enfield Poltergeist

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Due to SKY Living HD Showing there take on the Enfield poltergeist we thought we would add a story and some truth to the matter.

In 1977 a family who lived in a council house in Enfield, UK, began a terrifying ordeal when a Poltergeist took over their lives. The phenomena experienced included knocking on the walls, furniture moving, fires igniting and a child levitating.

The family consisted of divorcee Margaret Hodgson and her four children: Margaret aged 12, Janet 11, Johnny 10 and Billy 7. The paranormal activity started one night, when the two girls were in bed, a chest of drawers started shuffling forwards, towards them. Their Mother went upstairs to see what the commotion was, the girls were told to get back into bed and stop messing about. With that, the chest of drawers suddenly lurched forwards. The Mother pushed it back in place only for the chest to immediately move forwards again!

Utterly desperate, Peggy called in the Society for Psychical Research, who sent two members, Guy Lyon Playfair,
the Cambridge-educated author of several books about psychic phenomena, and businessman Maurice Grosse to investigate.

Guy’s first experience with the Enfield Poltergeist was when a marble appeared from thin air and dropped at his feet on the floor. Over a period of 14 months he visited the house almost 120 times, with the ghost being quiet sometimes and on other visits it would be very active.

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There are the accusations that the Hodgson family were making an elaborate hoax, and Playfair and Grosse were simply dismissed as gullible.

Janet admitted in a TV interview during the 1980 that she and her siblings had tried to fake some happenings, ‘about two per cent’ because they felt pressured when so many visitors came to the house expecting to see something.

284 Green street is still standing and no subsequent tenants reported any unusual happenings so we may never really know the truth.