Nostalgia: Spirits haunt former pub

Grey Horse Inn at Whitburn, January 1961.
Grey Horse Inn at Whitburn, January 1961.
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THE new owners of the former Cross House pub at Easington Lane discovered they had a sitting tenant within weeks of starting renovation work – a party-loving ghost.

“Mummy, please don’t be frightened … we have a new friend, and we are not alone,” announced the family’s four-year-old daughter as they settled down to watch TV one night.

Her mother, according to a new book on haunted pubs, scoffed at the idea at first – but was forced to revise her opinion after spotting the ghost of a woman floating in her bedroom.

“Former pub drinkers stated the ghost would flick lights off and on when a party was held,” said Darren Ritson and Michael Hallowell, authors of Ghost Taverns of the North East.

“The locals apparently warned the family against taking over the property, but they were down-to-earth, no-nonsense folk and not easily scared of such talk.”

The experience for the family was, however, made all the stranger – when a comment once made by the child’s great-grandmother came true.

“She warned that one day they would ‘move into a building filled with many beds’. They did – Cross House,” said Darren and Michael, who are paranormal investigators.

“When exploring the old cellar, the family discovered that it was filled with old iron bed frames.

“As to who the ghosts are, or rather were, no one really knows.”

The supernatural secrets of another former pub, The Globe in High Street East, are similarly shrouded in mystery – after the 100-year-old watering hole went up in flames in 1956.

The spirit of a lady, thought to have died in the toilets, was said to haunt the building but, as Darren and Michael discovered, the bar also contained another strange surprise.

“Firefighters had to break down a partition wall in the music room to try to contain the blaze. To their bafflement, they discovered a hidden staircase,” the authors record in the book.

“Where did it lead? For how long had it been sealed up? Alas, we’ll never know. The Globe is no more, and its secrets have died with it.”

Secret tunnels, rather than staircases, can still be found at a former coaching inn at Cleadon – where a new pub was built on the site of a much older tavern during Victorian times.

At least one tunnel runs beneath The Britannia – now known as The Toby Carvery – believed to have been built as an escape route for Catholics during the time of Oliver Cromwell.

“The tunnel leads from the inn to an extremely old house across the road,” states the book. “Other tunnels are said to stretch as far as West Boldon, Hylton Castle and Marsden Bay.”

One of the ghosts thought to haunt the pub is a Catholic soldier, injured while fighting for the Royalists.

The spirit of a Cavalier has also been spotted, enjoying a drink at the bar.

Other tales include a phantom coach and horses, as well as a yarn involving a one-legged sailor who supposedly died on the premises in the 1800s.

“The source of this sailor tale is a bit unreliable, but there is no doubt that one or two real ghosts do indeed walk the floors of this old inn,” said Darren and Michael.

l Ghost Taverns of the North East is published by Amberley Publishing at £12.99.