The Haunted Bypass- By Jason Day
FATE / MAY-JUNE 2009
In 1987 work began on a new section of road across the top of the Peak District in Yorkshire, England. The A616 passed through the town of Stocksbridge until road planners got to work on a new bypass to alleviate the traffic congestion. While the new road may have relieved the flow of traffic through the steel town, it would appear to have disturbed something that might have been best left alone. It all began one night when two security guards, patrolling the area where construction equipment was kept, saw something unusual: a group of children playing beneath an electricity pylon. As the guards got out of their vehicle and approached the pylon, they saw that the children were dressed in old-fashioned clothing and had their hands linked with each other in a circle. The youngsters appeared to be playing ring-around-the-rosy. As the guards approached them, the children suddenly vanished. The men were startled, to say the least. As Peter Owens, the security company manager, explained: “They were security men who had been in the industry a long time. They knew the job; they had worked night shifts for a number of years and were not the type of people you would expect to be scared.” The men were to witness an even more disturbing event later in their shift. Monk on Bridge In the early hours of the morning, the guards pulled their vehicle into an area of the bypass that would later become known as Pearoyd Bridge. As their Range Rover came to a halt, one of them spotted a hooded figure on a section of the bridge just in front of them. The guard got out of the vehicle to take a closer look while his colleague drove onto the bridge. As the headlights fixed onto the figure, the beams shone right through it. The guards watched aghast as the apparition disappeared into thin air. The men made a hasty retreat to their cabin on the construction site and called their employer. Owens came to the site immediately and described what he saw when he entered the cabin that night: “They [the security guards] were physically shaking and their complexion was very white and pallid. One of the guards was actually crying.” The men described what had happened that night, and later in the morning they went straight to the local police station.
The officer on duty that day, Police Constable Dick Ellis, knew them. Ellis said: “It was obvious they had seen or heard something.They were both spooked and basically I said to them that it was not a police matter and there was nothing I could do about it. Perhaps jokingly I said to them that maybe they needed the church more than they needed the police.” The security guards took Ellis at his word and headed for Stocksbridge church. There they sought refuge and refused to leave. Thirty minutes later the police were contacted and Ellis was ordered by his superiors to go to the church and get the men out. Ellis was also told to investigate what the men had seen that night and get to the bottom of the matter.
After dealing with the security guards at the church, Ellis and his colleague Special Constable John Beet headed to the bypass themselves to investigate. They arrived at the site in the evening and sat in their car. They turned off the engine, the lights, and the police radio, and waited to see what would occur. Ellis recounted: “We sat looking at the bridge and after awhile I was convinced I could see something moving about on the bridge. Not wanting to spook myself or John I kind of looked at John.” Beet asked Ellis what was up and Ellis told Beet that he thought he had seen something on the bridge, which was still under construction. Beet then told Ellis that he should go and have a closer look. Ellis got out of the police car and headed for the ladder perched in front of it. Ellis continued he bridge and there were a lot of things scattered around on top of the bridge.”
Nothing But Plastic?
Among the material on the bridge Ellis found a sheet of polyethylene waving in the breeze. He called to Beet and told him about his discovery. Beet said, “Well, once we’d thought that we had found out what it was, and what was actually on the bridge, we decided to give it another ten or fifteen minutes and then forget it and go on with our normal patrol.” Ellis secured the plastic sheet with a rock and returned to the police car. The two officers then sat and waited. It didn’t take long for things to take a turn for the worse. Ellis explained: “I suddenly got this feeling, you can’t explain it, there’s the saying that somebody’s walked over your grave, which turns you cold, and then I became aware that somebody now had appeared directly on my right-hand side and was virtually leaning and pressing himself against the car.” Ellis quickly cast his head to the right and saw the upper section of someone’s torso at the car window. Almost instantly the figure disappeared. The figure then appeared at the window on Beet’s side of the car before disappearing again a split second later. The officers were shaken by their experience but Ellis had the presence of mind to get out and investigate. “When I got out of my side of the car there was nothing about at all. I even hit the deck and looked under the vehicle because nobody could have run away from us, there were bankings on both sides, and nobody ran backwards or forwards.” Ellis inspected the mud around the car, but the only tracks he could find were those of the car tires and Beet’s and his own footprints. Ellis returned to the car and got in. Beet continued the story: “We went to start the car and at first the car wouldn’t start and we began to panic a little.” The car eventually started and the policemen drove away. As Ellis radioed his colleagues at the station a huge bang came from the back of the car. Beet equated it to the sound of somebody hitting the back of the car with a baseball bat. Beet stopped the car and the two men got out. They stood in front of the car with their backs to the vehicle and Ellis radioed for assistance. As he did so they heard another bang from the back of the car.This time they did not stay around to investigate. The officers jumped back into their car and raced back to the police station. Ellis concluded:“There are things on this job that frighten me, and it wasn’t the kind of fear that you get from violence offered towards you or anything like that. It was more a kind of dread feeling or knowing that something’s happening that you have no control over.
Guards Not Over It
The security guards who first reported seeing the apparition never got over what they had witnessed that night at the bypass, as Peter Owens explained:“One of them left after three days and the other one stayed roughly two or three months. Neither of the two guards would set foot on that site again, not even in daylight.” Sightings of apparitions continued during the construction of the bypass. One day Graham Brooke was out jogging with his son Nigel. Graham was training for a marathon along the soon-to-be-completed bypass. As father and son jogged along Graham noticed what he thought was a man walking in the middle of the road. Nigel also noticed the man, but as they got closer to him Nigel could see that the man appeared to have no facial features apart from nose and eye sockets. The pair also noticed a smell that they described as “fusty,”“rotting,”and “not a human-type smell.” Something else didn’t seem quite right about the man,Graham realized:“I could see that he wasn’t walking on the road, he was like walking in the road. From below the knee you couldn’t see anything.” Then, as is the case with many a paranormal episode, as Graham and Nigel recognized that they had seen a ghost, the apparition disappeared. Another witness to the ghostly figure during the construction of the bypass was a haulage driver. The incident occurred at the very spot where the security guards and the two policemen had their encounter with the phantom monk. The driver had parked his truck on the site one evening and was taking the ropes off the near side of his trailer when he suddenly felt deathly cold. The driver thought this was an odd occurrence as it was a warm evening. As he continued his work, he began to smell a musty odor. He glanced up and watched the figure of a monk glide through the headlights of his truck and disappear among the other trailers on the site.
Sightings of the monk and other paranormal phenomena continued to be reported in the area, and some hoped these would dissipate with the completion of Pearoyd Bridge and the bypass itself in 1989. However, this was not to be. A local bus driver called Neville was walking his dog along the bypass when he suddenly became immensely cold. As he walked along a lane to enter a field the back of his neck began to crawl and his hair felt like it was standing on end. A heavy feeling of oppression came over Neville and he saw what he could only describe as a monk in the field, racing around at a great pace: “One minute he was in the corner of the field, and then the next minute he was off near the entrance to the field.” As the bypass began to experience heavier volumes of traffic, so the sightings of the ghostly monk by passing motorists became more regular. David Simpson and his wife Judi were traveling home from Judi’s parents’ house one day and were crossing Pearoyd Bridge when something caught Judi’s attention: a gray apparition that looked like a man who was running, but he was not running on the ground. Judi said the man also seemed to have no facial features. When Judi pointed the figure out to her husband, he also saw it. David observed that the figure seemed to be hovering with its arms flying all over the place. Judi then saw the figure move quickly up the embankment towards their car. The figure hit the side of the car and then disappeared. Judi slammed on the brakes in total shock, but the man was nowhere to be seen. David Simpson said: “I could think of no other explanation to what we saw; in my mind I think what we saw had to have been a ghost.” Another driver who had an experience on the Stocksbridge bypass also thinks she may have an answer as to who the mysterious apparition might be. Psychic medium Lucinda June was driving along the bypass when her car became icy cold. With the extreme change in temperature also came a smell that Judi equated to the odor of “musty books.” Then a darkness appeared to her left. As she explained: “I felt very frightened. I picked up the spirit of a monk who had been there 500 years previously.” Why does the spirit of a long-dead monk haunt the Stocksbridge bypass? There are records of two monasteries close to the bypass dating back to the 12th century, and there were also monastery farms in the local area. Local historian Trevor Lodge recounted a story that may shed even more light onto the identity of the monk who is believed to haunt the road and the surrounding area: “One of these monks became disillusioned with the rather harsh, autocratic way of life of the order. He came here to Underbank Hall, worked the rest of his natural life here as a groundsman or whatever and subsequently when he died he was buried in unhallowed ground.” There is a local belief that the bypass may have been built over the monk’s grave and this is what is causing the paranormal phenomena.
There is also a theory to explain the ghostly children observed by the security guards. Lodge says:“Children were used in the valley’s coal mines in the late 18th century. The rumor suggests that there was a mining catastrophe.” Skeptics believe that the large deposits of iron ore, overhead power lines, and big electrical substations near steel smelters in the area could affect electromagnetic fields. Such a large electrical influx into the temporal lobes can induce an anomalous experience or a “paranormal episode,” according to scientific tests. The sightings continue to this day. Descriptions vary and experiences differ, but nevertheless, the reputation of the Stocksbridge bypass as a haunted location, perhaps like the spirit of the ghost refuses to be laid to rest.
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