Local writer and author Stephen Wade (pictured) spends a lot of time researching books and the archives of old newspapers to document some of the weird and wonderful tales to come out of Lincolnshire.
Wade was at Waterstones on the High Street this weekend promoting his latest book, The A-Z of Curious Lincolnshire, exploring the dark depths of the county’s unexplained tales and unlikely claims to fame.
Wade admits that most of his inspiration comes from talking to the people of Lincoln, who have some intriguing tales to tell. He said: “Just sitting here today I have heard enough stories to write a whole new book.”
Here is a sneak peek for The Lincolnite of Wade’s top 5 curious tales:
The Black Dog
The image of the Black Dog has haunted our nightmares for centuries; in his book Wade demonstrates that Lincolnshire itself is a notorious hot spot for the famous canine spectre. He dates one of the earliest sightings back to 1577 and explains that most experiences seem to gravitate towards Brigg and Fens area. One witness describes the animal as “the size of a small horse, its eyes yellow and its breath stinky like tallow.”
Grantham Disaster Mystery
In 1906, a train bound for Grantham Station mysteriously derailed. The engine went hurtling past the station at full speed headlong into disaster, sending its carriages smashing into the embankment ahead. According to Wade, there is extensive speculation surrounding what happened that night, however, although the eerie weather may have played its part, the mystery of why or how the train met its fate remains, to this day, unsolved.
The Phantom Hiker
On the long lonely road from Kirton to Scunthorpe, many people have reported phantom figures stalking the stretch of road. One reoccurring report is that of a young woman who apparently flags down drivers asking for a lift to Kirton. Wade explains “many have helped her and asked her to take a seat in the back of their car, only to find that after the car has started up and moved off, the hiker has vanished”.
The Long Drop Man
Among Lincolnshire’s unusual claims to fame, Wade tells the morbid tale of William Marwood, the public executioner from Horncastle, who revolutionised the hangman’s noose. Marwood offered convicts a sure swift death instead of being slowly suffocated and strangled. He developed a technique which involved measuring the subject’s height and weight and adjusting the length of the rope accordingly to ensure that the neck broke on dropping. As horrendous as this sounds it helped make hanging a more efficient and humane means of execution.
The Greestone Stairs
According to many, the epicentre of paranormal activity in Lincolnshire is at the Greestone Stairs in Lincoln. Running alongside the Usher Gallery, the infamous stairs also sit next to a University of Lincoln Building that was once a hospital. Wade demonstrates that “local folk will tell you of a hand that darts out to grasp your ankles as you innocently stroll down the stairs” Other reports of a clerical figure and a harrowed young woman are have also been linked to this unsettling spot.