The Poltergeists of Old East Leeds


The Poltergeists of Old East Leeds
By Eric Sanderson


The very thought of the supernatural invites ridicule from most but for some, the spectre of an apparition from the dead appearing before the living , or unexplained noises & movement of objects is a credible concept or even a realistic experience.
The spiritual aspects of ghosts & poltergeists (noisy ghosts) derives from ancient religious be-
liefs but the paranormal has continued to be the hunting ground of the charlatans of the dark arts by the
Ouija Board exponents, Ectoplasmic illusionists, Hypnotic Seances , Satanic Rites events & the like.
Although apparently inexplicable events are reported, they almost always have a logical expla- nation such as unusual air currents, underground movement, mechanical vibration , geomagnetic activ- ity etc. Research in anamolistic psychology suggests poltergeist activity is most often explained by illusion, memory lapses, wishful thinking as well as delusion & deception.

I recall a few instances from my youth where those involved truly believed that they had wit- nessed an event that convinced them that an attempt had been made to contact them from the “other side”. It has to be said that those involved had a pronounced religious inclination and/or belief in the power of parapsychology. Rather than ghostly apparitions, most involved the belief in Poltergeists & their ability to create physical disturbance such as loud noises & objects being moved or destroyed.
Here are just a few & I also append my own , admittedly sceptical, opinion as to the probable

A friend whose mother had recently died, took to daily placing fresh flowers in a vase in memory of her mother. She claimed she would frequently hear a loud crash , finding the vase knocked over & the flowers strewn over the floor. Being possessed of a strongly evangelical character, she believed this was a signal from her recently deceased mother , displaying her displeasure at what had been a less than happy end to her life.
This continued for some time causing distress to the daughter, extending to increased religious fervour in order to seek atonement.
My own take was that it was the actions of her elderly , mangey tom cat Leonardo ( Fleonardo would have been a more apt name) who wandered off frequently , coming home battle scarred late at night & jumping onto the mantlepiece over the fireplace for warmth & comfort, knocking over the vase in the process. The cat died shortly afterwards & the vase ceased being knocked over but the friend be- lieved that this was because she had shown sufficient contrition & that her mother was now happy on the other side.
If such phenomena exists, I imagine Fleonardo is having a good old laugh at his owner’s expense.

Another example was a family who lived in one of the Railway Cottages on East Park Parade , next to the bridge crossing the railway.. They would claim that they regularly found ornaments , in par- ticular religious ones, had moved from their original placement . They were a family that practised try- ing to contact ancestors through the activities of seances & mediums & were convinced that these movements were attempts to contact them from the other side.
In all probability, it was the vibration & ground shake caused by the outward bound express trains from Leeds as they hurtled from the railway cutting between East Park Rd & Pontefract Lane.

My final example involved a middle aged widow who, late one evening on returning home, claimed that she had been physically picked up & thrown over a privet hedge into a neighbour’s gar- den, suffering a few scratches & bruises & having difficulty in an accurate recollection of the incident.
She publicly attributed this to the ghost of her recently deceased husband, expressing displea- sure at her post mortem lifestyle.
Given that she was a pretty hefty person & that it would have taken superhuman strength to accomplish what she claimed, the more likely explanation was her frequent visits to the Slip Inn Jug & Bottle out- sales being the culprit, inducing hallucinations of her dead husband & causing her to crash through the hedge in a drunken haze.
It may be cynical & I expect many of us have, on occasion, suffered hallucinations as a consequence of over indulgence of the demon drink & if I believed I had a ghost living on my street, then I would certainly try to stay alive & offer it exactly what it wants.
Nonetheless, there remains, over the years, many examples of unexplained events that defy rational explanation & baffling even experienced researchers. All philosophies are, to some extent, nonsense, but some are greater nonsense than others & although such superstitions are patently absurd, if we we’re to retain an open mind, we mustn’t be frightened by absurdities.

So, if you die in a lift, don’t forget to push the “UP” button.

That’s given us food for thought, Eric. Comments on your own paranormal activities welcome

10 Responses to “The Poltergeists of Old East Leeds”

  1. peterwwood Says:

    Yer, Eric, Most paranormal experiences can be explained away, but I have had a few unexplained ones myself. The latest happened only a few years ago. I was walking in a long narrow meadow in Rothwell not far from Royd’s School. The meadow was about four hundred yards long but only forty yards wide. The boundary on each side of the meadow was a single string of wire and beyond on either side were ploughed fields and nothing else, There was an un-interupted view for miles on either side.
    As I started out I noticed a figure starting out towards me from the other end of the meadow. I walked a hundred yards in and the figure moved a hundred yards towards me. I had two big dogs with me running free so I thought when I’m fifty yards from this figure I’ll put the dogs on a lead as some folks don’t like dogs, So this I did I turned round and put the dogs on the lead and when I turned back around again the figure had gone, disappeared. I could see all the way back the figure had come and beyond and on either side. there was no one anywhere in sight . I even looked to see if it had dropped down a hole. Nothing! What can we make of that?!

  2. Doug Farnill Says:

    Thank you Eric for raising this issue. It makes me realise that I am impervious to evidence. Nothing will convince me that any supernatural forces exist. I refuse to accept any evidence that would support paranormal events. It is a funny state of mind to be in. I believe in natural science, which is empirical. But I dismiss any evidence that conflicts with natural science. How can one who believes in empirical science dismiss the evidence offered by folk who have experienced paranormal events? Peter’s experience of the of the disappearing figure is real, that can’t be denied. I should be open minded, but I am biased. There must be a natural explanation. I once tried water divining on my farm property to locate some drainage pipes. It didn’t work. My neighbour told me that water divining did work, it was just that I lacked the gift. I found the drains with a pick and shovel.

  3. Eric Says:

    Yes Pete, although a declared sceptic, I do admit to having the odd experience which was inexplicable, at least , to me.
    Driving down the M6 in atrocious weather , visibility hampered by spray from other vehicles, I had a sudden & very strong feeling that danger lay ahead. Slowing down to a very low speed, there, looming out of the mist & rain , was a heavy goods vehicle which had jacknifed & was stationary across all three lanes. Had I not slowed down , I believe I would have gone headlong into it.
    On many an occasion, I’ve wondered just what force came about to give me such a premonition

  4. aussiepom Says:

    Years back Brisbane had what they called tea rooms. Three of used to go to one about every 3 months, they made yummy toasted sandwiches and delicious cakes. They also did tea cup readings and tarot cards. It was illegal to tell fortunes so they called it tea and entertainment. We thought it was great as the reader was so serious telling what was in store for us and we tried to keep a straight face. They always told me I was going to hear news from overseas. With my accent!!!! You didn’t need to be Einstein to realise I wasn’t born in Brisbane. Always going to get a nice amount of money. Regular as clock work the pension gets paid into my account every fortnight. And always some man was on the horizon waiting to take all my troubles away. The garbage man calls every Monday morning. We thought it was great fun and I said we aught to set up a tent in my back yard and charge $10 to tell people what they wanted to hear but the others wouldn’t come into it. I wouldn’t have been able to stop laughing anyhow.

  5. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Suppose the most well known spiritual entity of East Leeds, is The Blue Lady of Temple Newsom, supposedly the ghost of Lady Mary Ingram, who wanders the house looking for her Pearl Necklace that was stolen from her by Highwaymen, there’s also the ghost of Phoebe Gray a nursemaid who was murdered on the premises, over the years I have visited the site on those midnight walks with my Father and looked through the windows in the early hours hoping to catch a glimpse of something, and I admit to our seeing a light in one of the corridors, but we were off rather sharpish and concluded that it was the light from the nightwatchman’s torch that we saw. It’s a fascinating subject and I did write a few words about it in the form of a short poem in 2015, it was called “Have we got a Sixth Sense”. That’s a strange encounter you had Pete I’m surprised the dogs didn’t sense something, as a being would have left a sent trail that they would certainly have picked up on, so in my book that counts as a paranormal encounter, and your premonition Eric is uncanny, but fits the pattern of one of those unexplained events which fall outside the realms of logic, I believe like Dough in Natural Scientific Fact, but you have to keep an open mind the Universe is a big place and we have little understanding as yet, as to what really exist out there, lots of theories and conjecture but little real evidence to support them, who knows what may exist in other wavelengths or parallel membranes, it’s a great subject Eric that promotes thought and keeps the grey matter working thank you for sharing it…

  6. Edward Blackwell Says:

    I do recall an event that happened to me as a mid teenager, I’ve always regarded it as an extra terrestrial encounter, but it could also be classified as paranormal, I don’t usually relate this story because although it happened people think I’m making it up and laugh it off, but when it happens to you it’s real. We were living in Wykebeck Street at the time, and I had my own room which we called a box room, because it was so small. I was 17 years old and an apprentice draughtsman, I awoke in the early hours to see a bright light shinning through my bedroom window, it was very intense like the power of the sun, the object from which the light came was shaped like the legs of the Isle of Man and slowly revolved giving a pulsing effect to the light, I called out to my Dad to look out of the window and he came into my room but said he couldn’t see anything, then the light intensified and disappeared into a spec in the night sky that resembled a Star. It disturbed me at the time and Dad said I shouldn’t talk about it because nobody would believe me. but it did occur and I can’t explain it…

  7. Eric Says:

    Doug & Eddie – Thanks for your insightful contribution to the topic. The yarn was intended to be light hearted but it’s obviously triggered a more serious aspect, which is great.
    In a way, I believe most if not all of these incidents do meet the criteria of Empiricism.
    By way of anomalistic research, hypothesis, theory & evidence, credible explanations meet the so called “Scientific Method” of evaluation & thus Empiricism, even though some of the processes may be psychological rather than quantitative.
    In another, different & entirely unrelated context , I came across the Atomic Particle Physics theory of Superposition being used to try & explain the paranormal , but that is more suitable for another forum.
    In my own case, although I hinted at some inexplicable premonition, a more rational explanation is that the cardinal rule of driving at a speed where the braking distance exceeds the range of visibility is dangerous applies. The presence of a heavy goods vehicle jacknifed across the motorway is merely coincidence , & coincidences occur in life all the time.
    I also agree Eddie that in our simplified, reductionist universe, the complexities cannot be readily calculated & maybe the only way they will be is to build mathematical models & computers as complex as the universe itself – very unlikely so we’ll continue to see the universe as we understand it.
    Audrey – yet another witty & sharp insight into the subject. I think you’ve clearly put your finger on the button.
    I suspect many going to séances are already preconditioned
    a) because they desperately wish to make contact across the ether with a loved one, and
    b) They’ve heard from “a friend of a friend” that some amazing things emerge and are therefore already more than half convinced & susceptible to any tidbit that a crafty spiritualist can evince from a willing subject.

  8. peterwwood Says:

    While we’re at it here’s more strange goings on. My last job was working for Wakefield Council and our little section was based in a detached house called Pinda’s Lodge’ It had at one time been the home of the factory manager of a detonator making factory, My office was in the old front bedroom, often I would hear footsteps coming up the stairs and going into other bedrooms, if I knew the person who worked in that bedroom was out I would often go to investigate, invariably there was no one there..
    The toilets were down in the cellar and one night I was the last one in and about to lock up when I heard someone descend the stairs to the cellar. Whose that I thought just as I’m about to lock up so I followed them down the stairs into the cellar to warn them I was locking up and lo and behold nobody there again, If you were first in – on a morning you had to sign in a book and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck bristling as though someone was standing directly behind me. The cleaners, who claimed they had seen a figure climbing the stairs would only work in there in pairs. When I met a guy who had worked in Pinda’s previously he asked me if I’d seen the ghost yet before I’d mentioned it to him!. I intend to go back and visit there again someday to see if the present incumbents are still experiencing ‘The Ghost’..

  9. Eric Says:

    My tale seems to have unintentionally generated more serious comment but I wonder if the experience of seeing or feeling a ghostlike presence is simply because people are preconditioned by awareness of the historical legend. Moreover, would those feelings exist if they were totally unaware of either the myth or the handed down anecdotes of others.
    Recently, whilst reading the lunch menu at an old pub in Stonegate , York, my wife said she’d had an uncomfortable feeling of a presence standing behind her. Part of this pub’s claim to fame is that it boasts of hosting 3 ghosts & my wife had been reading the pub’s publicity a few minutes beforehand. I suspect therefore it was a subconscious imaginary preconditioning fear of the unknown which induced this feeling.
    I’ve heard similar stories of people crossing old battlefields & hearing the wails & cries of the long dead combatants. But in every case that I know of, the people had visited the site precisely because of it’s historical significance & reputation.
    We’ve all seen , or seen photos of weird cloud, mist or light formations which can disappear in a flash.
    So, whilst tales of the paranormal are intriguing, I remain a sceptic simply because the available evidence against supports the empirical basis of scientific proof & little, if any, credible evidence exists for existence of the paranormal.
    Nonetheless, I hope to hear more “tales of the unexpected”.

  10. Eric Says:

    Audrey has a cracking tale involving a séance & a parrot. Given my declared scepticism & that the closest anyone will come to seeing a ghost is on a fairground ride , her tale is hilarious. I hope she shares it with you all

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