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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Creepy Carlisle!

Retired hospital engineer John Robson has very good reason to believe that the Great Border City is one of the country’s most haunted cities

He believes it is indeed an exceptionally spooky place, stalked by numerous characters from beyond the grave.

So many hauntings have been reported that 70-year-old John now provides a regular Carlisle ghost tour.

“I’m now putting together all my notes with a view to writing a book,” said John, who believes Carlisle can rival cities like York and Edinburgh for its supply of spectral tales.

John went on to provide two examples of the stories that he tells on the tour.

Perhaps the most famous is the one which has its roots in a grim discovery made at the castle in 1819.

Workmen were demolishing an 8ft-thick wall to create a doorway for the garrison’s captain through to the castle’s ramparts.

As the first heavy stones were pulled away, the labourers were confronted by the sight of two skeletons, the remains of a mother and her child.

Nobody ever discovered why they were there but 23 years later their legacy was to beget yet another tragedy.

“It was 1842,” said John, “and a guard who was at the captain’s door challenged a figure he saw approaching in the middle of the night.

“After three challenges, the guard fixed his bayonet and threatened to charge if the figure didn’t respond.

“There was no response and so the guard charged, and as the bayonet blade touched the figure it disappeared.

“In shock and terror, the guard screamed out. He died shortly after from the shock of it.”

Another of John’s stories is about the headless figure said to haunt Platform 8 at Carlisle’s Citadel rail station.Who was he?

The answer given in John’s account of the background is utterly heartbreaking: the ghost is said to be that of a newly married man, who was taking the train to London with this sweetheart.

Overjoyed by his marriage, the groom leant out of the train window near Carlisle, and loudly proclaimed his happiness to the world – only to be decapitated as the train raced passed an obstruction near the line.

“His headless body is said to have fallen back into his bride’s lap,” added John.

As with most ghost stories, there are many details that remain shrouded in mystery but they are clearly no less spine-chilling for that.

John said: “Carlisle is certainly beginning to look like one of the north’s most haunted cities and there are plenty of good stories to tell.”

His tours last for about one and three-quarter hours and take in several historic areas of the city centre.

The next one is due to start at 7pm on December 19.

Anybody interested in taking part – at a cost of £15 per person and to include a meal afterwards – should call Carlisle Tourist Information Centre on 01228 625600.

John is also keen to hear from anybody who has a fresh Carlisle ghost story to contact him by email on twojrs.robson@btinternet.com

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