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Spine-tingling tales of spooks: Walsall author set to release third volume of ghostly stories

By Heather Large | Walsall | Features | Published:

At this time of year it’s hard to beat a good ghost story. They’re eerie but we can’t get enough of them.

Old-fashioned ghost stories have captured the imagination for centuries and you don’t need to look far to find a mystery that cannot be explained.

And author Annita Bates, from Pelsall, knows more than most about things that go bump in the night as she’s about to publish her third collection of experiences of ghostly phenomenons.

After appealing for people to get in touch about what they had witnessed or heard, she was inundated with tales and she’s brought them together in her new book called Ghosts around Pelsall and Further Afield.

“I’ve always been fascinated by ghost stories,” she tells Weekend.

“When I asked for people’s stories I was astonished by how many there were and how much paranormal activity there has been – I think Pelsall must be the most haunted village in the country,” adds mother of two Annita.

She says her life-long interest in phantoms was sparked at a young age by her own experiences of the unexplained.

After moving into a new house, Annita who was just a baby at the time, struggled to sleep at night.

“As a devout Catholic, my mum had the house blessed. For the first nine months I didn’t sleep a wink – it drove my mum and dad mad.

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“When I was older I talked about seeing a ghostly girl but my mum and dad thought it must be an imaginary friend.

“Then when my brother was born, I went to the hospital to see him with my dad and when we got home and opened the door we heard a little girl singing a the top of her voice.

“That must have been the ghostly girl I had been talking about, it wasn’t an imaginary friend,” says Annita.

There was further paranormal evidence when a photo taken outside the front of the house later revealed a unexpected surprise.

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“There was an image in one of the windows and when you turned it upside down there was a girl in a Victorian school dress.

“I think because of what I saw when I was young, it opened the door for me and I’ve been receptive to that kind of thing ever since,” says Annita.

The keen historian previously published a local history magazine called Pelsall Times and after publishing her first history book called Pelsall Times Past & Present in 2011, she moved on to the supernatural.

“A lot of people would send me ghost stories and it seemed a shame not to do anything with them so I published Ghosts Around Pelsall,” explains Annita.

The stories in the book, which spanned more than 70 years, were told in good faith and were written as told.

It sold out almost immediately and led to annual ghost walks around Pelsall led by Annita and her friend Lyn Brookes in aid of the Wolverhampton & District M S Therapy Centre, which also attracted a huge following.

Due to popular demand Annita followed it up with Ghosts Around Pelsall 2 in 2013, which also flew off the shelves.

Over the past few years she’s continued to collect stories, not just from Pelsall but also from surrounding communities, including Brownhills and Rushall, and she decided it was time for another book.

Ghosts Around Pelsall and Further Afield will be published on Halloween and Annita will hold a launch event at Pelsall Community Centre from 6pm until 8pm.

She has collected around 30 tales for the book including a haunted house on Old Town Lane, Pelsall, a ghost seen at Pelsall Hall Sanatorium in the 1920s and a phantom monk spotted on Pelsall Common.

There are also details of a paranormal investigation carried out at The Swan in Brownhills where there have been plenty of spooky goings-on after hours.

“There landlords were in the cellar and they knew the pub was closed but they could hear people walking in the bar area above them. The television has switched itself on and doors have opened and there has been no one there,” says Annita.

Another story comes from nearby Sutton Coldfield where a man reported a strange occurrence while driving home from work.

He recalled seeing a grey-haired man walking out in front of traffic on London Road. “The driver in front of him swerved to avoid this man but he had disappeared, he wasn’t there,” explains Annita. Over the years she has also heard many reports of spooky happenings above the shops in the centre of the village

“A lot of them are Victorian buildings and there was one man living in one of the flats who told me that he was lying in bed and suddenly felt like someone was sitting on his bed.

“He looked but couldn’t see anything. He was lying there and he suddenly felt pressure on his body and he thinks something was hovering above him.

“He didn’t like it and he didn’t stay there after that,” says Annita.

She has been delighted to receive so many reports of paranormal activity and believes there will always be an appetite for ghost stories.

“I think people are fascinated by them and find them really interesting. Some people find them scary and some people like to try to dispel ghost stories because they think they can’t be true.

“But these stories are very compelling and why would people lie about it? I’m definitely a believer,” says Annita.

Her book, priced £6.50, will be available to buy at Thursday’s launch event and from Kind Thoughts in Pelsall High Street. For more information see www.pelsalltimes.co.uk

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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