RICHARD Bramall – spookologist, paranormal investigator, hunter of ghosts – says if he could explain the phenomena featured in his new book he’d be a rich man.
“As it is,” he muses, “I’m still working in the environmental health department of Rotherham Borough Council.”
His investigative partner Joe Collins, for the record, is still nine-to-fiveing as a roofer.
But this intrepid duo are nothing if not determined to keep probing the paranormal – albeit in their spare time.
The pair, collectively known as Rotherham Paranormal, have just released their second book, Haunted Barnsley.
And they reckon their research reveals the South Yorkshire town is a seething, screaming, Sunnydale-like saucer of spirits and spectres.
“We couldn’t believe how many stories we uncovered once people started talking,” says 41-year-old Richard of Wentworth Drive, Rawmarsh. “I’m not saying we didn’t come across stories which actually had a rational explanation – I’ve been to investigations where ghostly noises turn out to be pipes cooling – but some of these defy that. I don’t think they can be explained.”
Like the miners who stalked Lundhill Colliery more than a century after an explosion killed 200, perhaps? Or the ghoulish lady forever walking the railway line at Carlton? Or – add your own jokes here – the single lost soul seen at Oakwell football ground?
All are included in the tome.
As are tales of terror at The Low Valley Arms, in Darfield, The Ship Inn, in Elsecar, Charisma nightclub in Hoyland and The Room bar in the town centre.
Indeed, there are so many pubs featured, the book might easily be called – as opposed to the Good Beer Guide – the Bad Spirits Guide.
In Barnsley, it seems your average spook likes the sociability of a boozer. A sceptic might even say the publicity does publicans good...?
“I think there is some of that,” admits Joe, a 34-year-old father-of-one of Doncaster Road, Mexborough. “But pubs tend to be old buildings where lots of people have been. There’s something called residual haunting. Life has played out there down the decades and that has created almost like a spiritual recording which people sometimes see or hear.”
Either way, for sceptics and supernaturalists alike, with Halloween fast-approaching the pair insist the book – their second after Haunted Rotherham was published last year – is a trick and treat of a read.
Haunted Barnsley, published by The History Press, is in book shops now priced £9.99.
RUMOURS are rife that Barnsley FC’s ground is home to a lost fan.
Staff say a sole loan gentleman in old clothing can sometimes be seen in the West Stand. Which might be normal on a match day but this is when the ground is supposed to be closed to the public.
Screams of children
BARNSLEY Picture House, in Eldon Street, experienced a tragedy in 1908 when 16 children were crushed to death trying to escape a fire.
To this day staff who worked there say their screams could often be heard echoing down the corridor where they perished.
A weeping woman
WORKERS at the Barnsley Chronicle newspaper have said they sometimes see a woman weeping in the Church Street offices.
This, it turns out, is not the news editor on deadline but an ethereal figure – perhaps surviving from when the site of the building was a morgue.