Free Halloween Ghost/True Crime Walk

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Last night I ran a free ghost walk in Hull with an idea of covering ghosts, local legends, historical mysteries and true crime.  The initiative was set up after a number of local groups hiked up their prices and started feeding people false histories and made up stories passed on from generation to generation with little historical proof to back them up.

The affair was very low key, with only friends and family, who had inboxed me on Facebook or Twitter, and as such numbers were kept to a minimum, and I was able to control anyone who came along. (Sick of nutters turning up and threatening people)

The idea was to meet at Hull’s Holy Trinity Church a location associated with William Wilberforce, Richard Stephenson Snr, and a great number of plague and cholera victims, at 7 o’clock on Halloween.  As always I turned up early, just in case people turned up early.  I was glad that I did.

As I was stood waiting a gentleman, aged in his late 50’s early 60’s, stumbled out of a local pub and was stood resting against the church wall.  He stood up, brushed himself down, then proceeded to run across the square, drunk as a skunk but rather amusingly doing aeroplane impressions with his arms.  It was all for naught though, as soon as he hit the roadway, which is still covered in sets, he literally went flying!  He hit the floor with a thump and was out cold. 

Being the only (sober) person in the square I made my way over to the man, and started asking if he was ok, he failed to respond.  With that a lady came out from local hairdressers and asked if I needed assistance.  She saw his condition, and called for an ambulance.  As I tried getting a response, I noted that his nose was pouring with blood, and his glasses smashed in bits on the floor.  He mumbled but refused to leave the road.  At this point I had to start diverting traffic, whilst watching his condition, and keeping an eye on anyone arriving for the walk. 

Luckily, two Humberside Police PCSO’s came into the square, and I called them over.  They could not get the man to his feet, but he was mumbling “Leave me alone, go and enjoy your night,” but I still couldn’t leave him.  Within minutes a paramedic arrived and they began treating the man, who I felt happy to leave now.  As I left I walked over to the pre arranged meeting place and met with several people who I had arranged to meet. 

The tour began, and I won’t give out details, but it lasted an hour, took in over 30 locations associated with paranormal activity, murders, witchcraft, and a number of sites associated with “Jack the Ripper” letters, “Jack the Ripper like conduct,” and a number of sites associated with “Jack the Ripper” suspects.  Attendees were informed of the stories, primary sources, and how the myths and legends of the area have developed over the years.  The rain stayed off for the night, and despite the wind and cold, it was a great night with a few laughs and a few coincidences.  At one point I was discussing several witches in the Hull area, when two ladies walked passed wearing full witches attire for Halloween.  On another occasion we were stood outside a pub when the Ghostbusters theme tune by Ray Parker Junior came on.  All in all an eventful night.

September 10th 1888

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September 10th 1888

On September 10th 1888 the National and International Press were in a frenzy over the murders, with the murder of Annie Chapman, featured in, The Aberdeen Weekly Journal, The Belfast News Letter, The Birmingham Daily Post, The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, The North Eastern Daily Gazette, The Daily News, The Dundee Courier and Argus, Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, The Glasgow Herald, The Leeds Mercury, The Liverpool Mercury etc, The Northern Echo, The Pall Mall Gazette, The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, The Morning Post, The Standard, The York Herald, The Western Mail, The Times, The Star, The British Daily Whig, The Daily Telegraph, The Evening News, The Frederick News, The Irish Times, The Montreal Daily Star,

In Australia the affair was featured in the following newspapers on that date, The South Australian Advertiser, The South Australian Register, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Argus, The Daily News (Perth), The Portland Guardian, and The Bendigo Advertiser.

In New Zealand the affair was featured in the following newspapers on that date, The Marlborough Express, the Wangamui Herald, The Star, The Poverty Bay Herald, The Aucland Star, The Ashburton Guardian, The Thames Star, The Daily Telegraph, and The Nelson Evening Mail.

 Here in Hull newspaper reports featuring the affair appeared in, The Hull Daily Mail, The Hull Daily News, The Hull News, and The Eastern Morning News.

September 9th 1888

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September 9th 1888

The main topic in the British press on September 9th 1888 was the murder of Annie Chapman, which in some publications, including The Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, as the fourth murder, being as it followed Emma Elizabeth Smith, Martha Tabram, and Mary Ann Nichols.  The same publication also asked “Why not try bloodhounds?”  A question that would soon be answered….

This past week

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The past week


In the past week I had the opportunity to peruse some old Hull newspapers that covered the years 1889 to 1940.  Among the newspapers were several articles pertaining to Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders.  I was able to collect copies of articles on the likes of Sir Charles Warren, Sir Melville Macnaghten, and several other police officials, who were in service during the “Autumn of Terror.” 

I was also able to obtain copies of newspaper reports on several suspects, from Frederick Bailey Deeming, James and Florence Maybrick, Charles LeGrand, Francis Tumblety, and several other suspects that are rarely discussed despite their candidacy being much stronger than the likes of some who have been mentioned in the past!

I was also able to collect material, including newspaper reports, and material gleaned from primary sources on the likes of Annie Millwood, Ada Wilson, Emma Elizabeth Smith, Martha Tabram, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Susan Ward, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, The Whitehall Mystery, Mary Jane Kelly, Annie Farmer, Rose Mylett, Elizabeth Jackson, Alice McKenzie, the Pinchin Street Torso, and Frances Coles, as well as several other victims who were killed in the vicinity in the months after the initial “Jack the Ripper” scare! 


This Saturday I had the pleasure of lecturing at the Western Library, on Boulevard, off Hessle-road in West Hull.  The library is opposite the former home of one Frederick Richard Chapman, and close to the site of one of the Hull Dispensary’s that he worked at, and the former church where he was a church warden.  The library itself is an historical gem, built in 1895 and being the first in Hull to be erected using public funding.  The library closed in 2011 and reopened only recently after a £800,000 regeneration project and I must say it is a lovely bright place with many of the historical features kept for future generations to admire.  Among the improvements were the erection of extra meeting rooms, a lift, extra shelving, solar roof panels, and a new IT facility.  The original Victorian counter is still present, and many of the walls have been restored. 

The lecture was arranged by The Friends of Hull Library, who asked that I go along and discuss Hull’s Ghostly Myths and Legends.  It was a lovely atmosphere, and I came away with more bookings for future lectures.  I was also pleased that not only was the room packed, but that the crowd had so many stories and questions in the Q+A session I held afterwards. 

All in all it was a great day, and I hope to return to the library very soon.

Heritage Open Days Hull

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this weekend saw the Heritage Open Days across the UK, and closer to home in Hull.  On Saturday I had the pleasure of visiting Hull’s Neptune Inn, a location that was built in the 1700’s but by the 1800’s had been closed and was sold to the Hull Customs.  It was here, in 1863, that Robert D’Onston Stephenson began working as a clerk of the first class to the Hull Customs.  The property is owned by the Trinity House Corporation, who Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s father worked for in his role as Receiver of Corporation Dues and Receiver of Bouyage.  Two roles that were jointly operated by the Trinity House Corporation, the Hull Customs, the Hull Dock Corporation and the Hull Corporation.  It was also through the same roles and employers that Lewis Carroll’s maternal grandfather worked, albeit in the 1700’s.

The massive awe inspiring building retains many of the original features after it was renovated some years ago and stands opposite the bank that was used by Frederick Bailey Deeming prior to him defrauding Messrs Reynoldson’s!  Deeming arrived in Hull in November 1889 and opened up an account at the bank, and traded with them until he closed his account and wrote three cheques for jewellery at Mr. Reynoldson’s jewellery store, where the current Schue branch is on Hull’s Whitefriargate. 

The bank stands on the corner of Whitefriargate and Parliament-street, another location that appears in Hull’s Ripperological history.  Several people were removed to Parliament-street police station between 1888 and 1900 for “Ripper like conduct” and it acted until the central police station during the period. 

Also on Parliament-street stood what was known as Messrs Tenny and Dawber, a solicitors firm that Joseph Dawber was running.  Joseph was Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s cousin, and would later be locked up in Hull Gaol for fraud.  Curiously, the 1891 Census shows that at the same time he was in prison, Frederick Bailey Deeming, under the alias of Harry Lawson, was also an inmate!  Small world!

Leaving Neptune Inn I paid a visit to the Holy Trinity Church, where William Wilberforce was christened.  It was also here that Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s father was also christened!  The church is always a pleasure to walk about, and features the tombs and remembrance plaques of hundreds of former Hull notables including former Mayors, Alderman, and Merchants.  The tower was open, but with my dodgy ticker and the heat I didn’t risk the climb. 

After Holy Trinity Church I visited the Pacific Exchange, which was advertised as being open 10:00 – 15:00 but at 14:00 was already closed.  Regardless I walked along to Hull’s only National Trust property, Maister’s House.  The house has a magnificent staircase and upper balcony, but it was undergoing structural integrity checks, so scaffold bars and boards blocked much of what was previously on show.  Hopefully they will discover the problem and save this unique location.

From Maister’s House I had a quick look around Hull’s Museum Quarter, where a collection of vintage cars were on display.  Leaving the museums I headed for the Georgian Houses but discovered that the tours needed booking despite the official guide stating that no booking was required.  When I enquired about the time I was told the next available tour would be in a hour and half, so I left for other locations. 

Blaydes House was next on the agenda, a beautiful 18th Century property built and owned by the Blaydes family.  It was the Blaydes family who built a ship named “The Bertha,” which would be later renamed “The Bounty” which was known for its infamous mutiny.    

Leaving Blaydes House my next stop was St Mary’s Church, known to many as St Mary the Virgin.  The church dates from the 14th Century, and is packed with historical features that make it a place to visit over and over again.  Once again, for health reasons, I decided against the tower climb. 

Taking in other locations, such as Ye Olde White Hart, White Hart, Sailmakers, and George Hotel, I finished the day at Hull’s Bob Carver’s fish and chips shop.  A piece of Hull’s history in itself.        

September 8th 1888

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September 8th 1888

Today’s newspapers were filled with the news that another horrible murder had taken place in Whitechapel.  The brutal murder of Annie Chapman, found dead a little before 6:00 on the morning of the 8th of September by John Davis.  The newspapers, many of which were still discussing the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, had another murder to discuss.

Annie Chapman RIP (September 1841 – 8 September 1888)

September 7th 1888

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September 7th 1888

The hot topic of the day on September 7th 1888 was the funeral of Mary Ann Nichols, sometimes referred to as Polly, and Nicholls.  Several news reports published that Mary Ann Nichols had been buried at Ilford Cemetery by her father, among them was the Daily News, The Times, The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, The Morning Post, The Standard, and The Western Mail.

September 6th 1888

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September 6th 1888

September 6th 1888 was a typical no news day in the East End, The Star however, had plenty to report on, and their article looked at how the East End was experiencing a murder a day!  It was typical scaremongering reporting, but helped sell copies and keep newspapermen in business.   The report, published that day, likened the Whitechapel murders to the “The Murders in “The Rue Morgue.” 

The Dundee Courier and Argus, also published that day, discussed a suspect that was being watched, named only as “Leather Apron.”

 Mary Ann Nichols is buried at Little Illford Cemetery.


Heritage open days 2012 - Hull

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2012 Heritage Days

It’s that time of the year again and the 2012 Heritage Days in Hull are off to a start with some fascinating lectures, and eye opening tours.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending David Alexander Smith’s lecture at the Hull History Centre on the 1909 murder craze in Hull entitled “Murder in the Slums.”  David, who recently penned Paull – An Illustrated History, presented to the audience three murders from 1909, two of which resulted in the conviction of two men, who under the influence of drink, had murdered two women in what appeared to be crimes of passion.  The two murders that resulted in convictions took place in the slums of Hull, and David presented the audience with contemporary photographs of the crime scenes, taken by the Hull Board of Health Authority.  Maps, then and now photographs, and sketches of the suspects were presented for the perusal of the audience and David was both knowledgeable and well informed not just on the cases, but the social and historical aspects of each case.  All in all it was a fascinating lecture, and I look forward to David’s new release, Forgotten Hull Vol: 3.

Today I had the pleasure of sitting in a lecture by the Hull Daily Mail’s Angus Young.  Angus spoke about Scandals! Rogues, Rascals and Infamy in Hull and East Yorkshire, and touched upon many of the stories featured in his recently released book bearing the same name.  Among the topics were spies, crooked business men, high society scandals, and stories regarding Hull celebrities.  For me the highlight was the topic of the Great Baccarat Scandal at Tranby Croft, but the material on the Gaul was equally fascinating.  Angus also discussed his previous two books, Murders of Hull, and More Murders of Hull, which are fascinating works on local murder cases and their outcomes.  Angus was both knowledgeable and amusing and some of his stories about his life as a reporter were fascinating. 

I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with both David and Angus, and must thank them for signing my books and taking the time out to chat.

Over the weekend a number of other activities and tours are taking place in Hull, including the opening of The Neptune Inn.  Ripperologists will be more used to the name of Hull’s Customs House, the location where Robert D’Onston Stephenson worked as a clerk during the 1860’s. 

September 4th 1888

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September 4th 1888

With no new clues, and no suspects the press of the day were still discussing the murder of Mary Ann Nichols.  Statements from police officers and medical men were published, and telegrams announced activity in the district, but still there was no viable explanation for the murder. 

Some press reports were eager to link every and any crime in London to the case, and on September 4th 1888, the Western Mail, were quiet eager to report that two crimes in London had allegedly been committed on females. 

The first report covered the alleged attack on a woman outside Foresters Music Hall, the second covered the poisoning and robbery of a lady near Clapham Common.   

The press were in a frenzy, and it wouldn’t be long before suspects and victims would start to fill the columns.

The Spooky Isles - Jack the Ripper Week…

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  The Spooky Isles

Continuing on with Jack the Ripper Week is The Spooky Isles, with a fantastic post on The Top Five Jack the Ripper movies.  The post, written by Eric McNaughton, can be viewed here,

Today, hot off the press, is another article on The Spooky Isles, from some fella called Mike Covell.  The article is entitled “Jack the Ripper Scares during the “Autumn of Terror” and can be viewed here,

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