It’s close to Witching hour on the spookiest night of the calendar, Halloween, so dim the lights and settle back for some of Huddersfield scariest folk tales....
Huddersfield legends can be as dark and brooding as the moorland landscape that surrounds the town and the characters just as strange and frightening as any horror movie icon.
Read on if you dare.
Legend of ‘Black Dick’ Sir Richard Beaumont
If you grew up in Kirkheaton, you may already know that Sir Richard Beaumont (1574-1631) is said to haunt these parts, carrying his severed head under his arm as he goes.
Was his strange nickname the result of dark deeds - he was said to be a highwayman, a gambler and a bad debtor - or because of his black hair and swarthy looks?
The story of his headless ghost may also be the result of confusion as it was actually Robert de Beaumont who lost his head during a feud in around 1341, when John de Eland attacked him in his home at Crosland Hall, Huddersfield.
If you fancy scaring yourself witless, take a late-night visit to ‘Black Dick’s Tower’, just off Liley Lane, between Kirkheaton and Grange Moor. It is said that the folly is haunted by a headless ghost.
The spectre on horseback
Woodsome Hall, a mansion at Almondbury that is now home to a golf club, is the focus of a ghost story that goes back to 1697 when James Rimmington, the Hall’s steward, died.
Soon afterwards his ghost, mounted on a ghostly horse, was seen galloping on Woodsome Lane, creating quite a bit of fear in the neighbourhood. Eventually a party of clergy succeeded in “laying” the ghost, which later changed into a robin.
The story was later recounted to a group of ladies in a room at the golf house when a robin flew in through an open window. Imagine the tumult that followed...
The Friendly and Trades Club ‘poltergeist’
The former Mechanics’ Institute building on Northumberland Street was the scene of “one of the most credible poltergeist manifestations in the town’s history”, according to Kai Roberts, author of Haunted Huddersfield.
The club finally closed in the early 1990s and has since been converted into apartments. But during its final days there were a number of disturbances: caps began to pop off bottles, glasses flew from shelves and one customer had to avoid being struck by beer bottles which flew over the bar. Another was hit by an empty brandy bottle.
At the time, Examiner journalist Stephen Cliffe said he was convinced by the sincerity of witnesses who he described as “pasty and chastened”.
The Society for Psychical Research said: “This sounds like an authentic case of poltergeist haunting.”
The spirit of a Victorian bargeman
Gasworks Street, which links the town centre with the John Smith’s Stadium, is home to The Gas Club whose drinkers have reported seeing a hunched figure known as Old Joe. The story is that he threw himself into the canal when he became too ill to earn a living. Some have reported seeing a spectral figure jumping into the water, yet they heard no splash. According to Kai Roberts, it as a “residual-haunting” - the image of a tragedy which can be detected by those sensitive enough to perceive it.