Edgeley Tales

Telling Edgeley Tales

I'm pleased to publish a couple of contributions by Al Fairhurst whose shares his memories of growing up in Edgeley in the Sixties and Seventies. Al is currently in the process of a semi-autobiographical project which includes the central character's childhood memories of growing up in Stockport. Al gives us a taster in his account "Edgeley Remembered" We're hoping to serialise his story in the coming months.

But first, prompted by my brother's "Devils in the Walls", here's Al's spooky tale, entitled:

An Edgeley Ghost Story

In response to your article about Ghostly Occurrences, I enclose an account of an experience that happened to a friend and myself back in the winter of 1974.

Ouija BoardMy friend was aged thirteen at the time and was living on Vienna Road in Edgeley, Stockport and I was living in Marple. Every week or so I'd go and visit my friend and one of the very short-lived crazes of the day – undoubtedly influenced by the release of such horror films as The Exorcist – was the infamous Waddington's Ouija board; a device (marketed towards children I may add!), which allowed you to contact the spirit world (so the literature supplied would have you believe). I still have my Ouija board in a trunk in the cellar and for reasons you are about to discover, have not used it these past forty years.

My friend and I decided to test out the mysterious board one wet and dreary night and set up a séance in a dark room down stairs, lit only by a single night light candle. After the perfunctory 'Is there anybody there?' nonsense, the pointer began to move almost immediately in slowly widening circles. I looked up at my friend with a suspicious grin and he likewise reciprocated, right up to the moment where we both decided to take our fingers off the pointer at exactly the same time - the pointer however, for at least three to five astonishing seconds, carried on moving in a slow shuddering circle on its own!

As you can imagine, for two young lads who saw the whole thing as a bit of a joke, our bemused scepticism suddenly turned to a feeling of genuine horror.

It took us several days and several cautious attempts to regain the courage to resume the séance again, but when we did and when we again made contact, a bizarre series of events were to unfurl which, to this day, I can't begin to, nor really want to understand.

Ouija Board

We held séances over a period of the following four weeks and most of the contacts we made were nonsensical gibberish, however, over a few weeks, we managed to establish that a story was slowly forming. The spirit we had contacted had once been a soldier during the First World War where he was apparently fatally wounded. He was originally from Edgeley and at one point claimed to have lived in the house we were holding the séance in. By this time, also, we had complete faith in the fact that neither of us was manipulating the pointer or 'building a story' in any way. Somehow, we both knew that what was happening was way beyond explanation.

We were also supplied with a man's name; a one Reynold Gordon, which we didn't see as unusual when taking into account the period he was supposed to have lived. Just before the end of the last séance, something very peculiar happened. The session had once more descended into a string of unintelligible sentences and so we decided to call it a night. By now we had become so used to the pointer moving beneath our fingers that we became blasé, but when it started to slowly vibrate it made both of us look up at each other with a start.

This was something new! It had never happened before and it was very unnerving, but nowhere near as unnerving as what occurred next! A strange breeze momentarily blew across the room and just for that one second I could smell summer meadow flowers followed by a faint odour of something cloying and unpleasantly sweet - It was the odour of decay, the smell of death.

By the light of the candle I saw my friend's expression turn to one of genuine terror. I followed his gaze and there on the wall was the shadow of a man stood leaning on what we both described later as a rifle.

tommy The shadow was perfectly clear and I can still see it today, leaning on his rifle; tin helmet on head; the outline of his heavy tunic clearly visible; the twisted silhouette of a blackened tree, coils of barbed wire around its base; strange intermittent flashes of cold grey light as if shells were landing in a ghostly distance on the wall.

The logical side of my brain switched to automatic, immediately seeking some form of explanation. The television! Yes, that was it. The TV had somehow switched itself on and was throwing flickering images across the opposite wall, but in the same instant, I knew that this could not possibly explain what was happening. I shot a glance to the right just to be certain, the TV lay dormant in a shadowy corner of the room, its dull screen faintly mirroring what was really unfolding on the wall across the room. I was breathing heavily and I remember the sharp metallic taste of blood in my mouth. I remember mentally having to pull my gaze from the lifeless TV in the corner and back to the wall, via the image of my terrified friend, who was visibly trembling and emitting a string of strange stifled cries, making the scene that much more dreadful and surreal.

Then it happened! The shape seemed to straighten and walk very slowly toward us, growing larger and larger until the shadow seemed to tower over us. By now, neither of us dared to breathe, but I remember with absolute clarity a feeling of terrible anger, not mine but someone else's. It belonged to the apparition whose shape now filled the entire room. It was an unspeakable anger, full of betrayal and deceit.

It was a feeling so black and so full of dread that it has remained with me to this day.

The whole incident was timeless. Even now, neither of us can equate seconds or minutes to the event and contrary to most other ghostly encounters, I remember it being incredibly hot, I remember sweat dripping off my nose, maybe this was due to the fact that we were both genuinely terrified.

There's a macabre twist to the events of that night thirty years ago. My friend and I decided to do a little research and try and discover if the person we had contacted left a trace on local council or regional military records. We drew a blank on all counts and decided to end any further dabbling into the spirit world from there on in, but the strange and terrifying happenings of that month remained with us and it was not until some eight years later whilst serving in the army, that I made a simple yet crucial discovery.

"The man was a solider," I said to my pal.

"So what! We already knew that." Came his puzzled reply.

I then produced a photocopy of a document I'd discovered through Regimental Dispatches listing a number of local men killed in action during the battle of the Somme in the fiercely hot July of 1916.  The hairs on the back of my neck started to rise. The room that night was unbearably hot - was there a link?

His eyes widened as, three quarters of the way down the list was a name: Reynolds-Gordon-Corporal, arranged in typically military fashion in reverse order!

The man's name was Gordon Reynolds! An infantry soldier killed on the muddy fields of Northern France some sixty years prior to our first clumsy involvements in matters, which were best left alone.

The final part of the transcript was perhaps the most disturbing part of all. Corporal Reynolds body was never officially recognised back at grave's registration in the echelon and was subsequently classified as Missing in Action presumed dead. somme

On September 8th 1961 - the day I was born - a body was discovered during an excavation by Belgian university students. The remains were identified as those of a one Corporal Gordon Reynolds.

During an official autopsy, the cause of death had been two gun-shot wounds to the upper back resulting in massive trauma and eventually death. The type of weapon used was later discovered to be a .455mm Webley revolver of the type used by British officers in the field during WWI.

Reynolds had been shot by an officer in his own company and then quickly buried in order to hide the officer's terrible mistake. The autopsy also revealed that it was likely that Reynolds may not have been dead when the earth was piled on top of him and that he may have been buried alive!

I seldom returned to the house on Vienna Road in Edgeley but as far as I'm told, nothing more was ever seen of the tormented ghost of Corporal Gordon Reynolds.

But on cold winters nights as I sit alone by a fire listening to the hissing and popping of the flames, just for a hideous moment I'm reminded of that fateful evening back in 1974 and our encounter with a poor lost and angry soul left behind on the bloody fields of battle.

© 2014 Al Fairhurst


Previous page|Next page

The content of this site is subject to copyright

If you wish to use any of the images, please contact me, Janet Nicholson.

Copyright © Janet A Nicholson 2011 © John A Nicholson 2011