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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Spirit of Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, the chilly air is filled with the magic and mystery of reindeers with glowing red noses, Santa and his amazing chimney act and snowmen that come to life in our back garden when we are sleeping at night..
But what about the other, darker kind of unexplained phenomena that we don't naturally associate with this jolly time of year? One of the most famous and quoted Christmas tales of all time is that of 'A Christmas Carol', where Charles Dickens brought an element of the supernatural to the festivity period through his Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. The book was written in 1843 and, being a true literature lover, (as well as Ghost Whisperer fanatic at the moment!), I decided to indulge in Dicken's interest in the paranormal and tell you Vintage's Twee's very own tale about a Victorian ghost a little too close to home...

Since being a little girl, I have always been fascinated watching my dad carry out his daily profession as a gent's hairdresser and I often still call in to visit him in the barber shop he has occupied for over 20 years based in Heaton Chapel, Stockport.
 However, even now at 27 years old, I cannot walk to the kitchen to make my dad a cup of tea without closing my eyes tight at the sight of the crooked door to the shop's cellar. I can recall my dad's colleague locking my sister and I down there as a joke when we were young, as well as the story of a customer's dog who came out with all his hair stood on end. Tony's Barber Shop is well known in the area for it's terrifying ghost who resides in the cellar and has driven out many past female tenants who occupied the rooms above my dad's shop. The building itself dates back to the 18th century and was occupied in the 1840s by Irish navvies who had been employed to carry out the heavy work during the building of Stockport's railway line. The men were said to be a nuisance to the neighbourhood with their constant drinking & the prostitutes that they brought home. When the work was done and the men left Heaton Chapel, the women and their children remained, some of which residing in the property on Manchester Road that is now my dad's barber shop. The council had to fumigate the property as it was in such a mess and when doing so, they uncovered a host of bones under the floor in the cellar.

Source: Taken from
'Supernatural Stockport' (1991) by M.Mills
Many years later, the house was occupied by a Polish family during the First World War, who experienced many sightings and presences of the ghost connected to the building. They experienced the figure of a man stood at the foot of the bed, invisible hands drawing the quilt off the daughter's father as he lay in bed and the opening and closing of the young girl's vanity box on her dresser. It seems the young sisters who lived in the house were MUCH braver than my sister and I would ever be and followed the man to the cellar, where they watched him descend the stone steps carrying a lantern and disappear through the wall. It has been said that the ghost that haunts the building is that of the man who killed the prostitutes and their babies and buried their bones under the cellar floor.

Now I'm never in there long enough to find out if this is true, but it seems that the ghost has a distaste for women as he seems to haunt all the female tenants of the building yet my dad has never had a problem in the 20 years he has been in there. Perhaps the male dominated environment of the Barber Shop keeps the ghost at bay? Or maybe that padlock dad put on there is working...

So there you have it! Let's hope the Heaton Chapel Phantom doesn't know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and try to teach us some Christmas cheer...or I'm going to have to seek out Melinda Gordon to cross him over!

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