The man came to a breathless halt beneath the Hanging Ditch Bridge.
The Cathedral was shrouded in mist as the night air grew ever colder and the only sound breaking the silence was the eerie howling of the beast.
The headless dog. The Black Shuck.
There was nowhere left to run…
Now, this may sound like the start of a Hammer Horror classic, but it is actually just one of the many spooky encounters you may experience thanks to Manchester’s rich ghostly heritage, as long as you ‘believe’ that is….
Aside from the Black Shuck, there is the ‘Mummy’ said to haunt the Manchester museum, Reverend Samuel Collier, who supposedly used to prowl the bar area of the former Brannigan’s nightclub on St Peter’s Street, and ‘The White Lady’, Mary Webb, who it is claimed still frequents Wythenshawe Hall.
Indeed, the devil himself is said to have visited the city, when he was summoned to the building that is now Chetham’s Library. According to the fable, the devil placed a cloven hoof onto a table, and the scorched hoof print is still there today.
The good news is, if you fancy trying to get to the bottom of these myths and legends, then the opportunities to become a ghost-hunter are definitely there.
For those who want a more scientifically-robust explanation of the spirit world, Shadow Seekers, a Tameside-based paranormal investigation group, can give you just that.
The group have conducted investigations in local venues such as Hyde Town Hall, Ordsall Hall and Tameside Theatre, as well as travelling abroad to locations such as Bran Castle in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, known as Dracula’s castle.
Susanne Taggart, the group’s Founder and Events Manager, says that attending a Shadow Seekers event will give you the basic skills required to become a paranormal investigator for the night, as well as the chance to use detection equipment such as EMF meters, laser thermometers and voice recorders.
She told MM: “Our aim is to give the public a crash course in paranormal investigating, they are shown how to use the equipment and encouraged to take readings during each section of the investigation.
“We have a medium work with each group to assist them after they have had a chance to pick something up themselves. On investigations it’s the personal stuff like being touched or that feeling of a cold spot right next to you, when everywhere else seems warm.”
For a more theatrical look at Manchester’s world of phantoms and ghouls, you may want to take a trip with the legendary Flecky Bennett, who acts as your tour guide to uncover the unearthly secrets of the city’s oft-forgotten nooks and crannies.
Flecky is the brainchild of professional actor Ian Waring, who launched the ghost walks in 2009 after discovering he had plenty of spooky material to base his passionate performances around.
He told MM: “Flecky Bennett is a character who lives in the haunted underground tunnels of Manchester. He comes up to ground level to take victims around the city centre and tell them the true ghost stories of Manchester.”
As well as chasing apparitions on the surface, Flecky also leads tours deep in the heart of the city’s underground tunnel system, a place where Ian says the most compelling paranormal activity tends to take place.
He said: “We go underneath the Great Northern Warehouse, it’s incredibly haunted down there. A lot of people died down there, soldiers, elderly people, children. They have been used for so many different things that lots of people have passed away in the underground tunnels.
“I’ve been down there with different mediums, and I’ve made contact with a witch, a little girl, and a man called Roberts. The witch says she goes back to the 1500’s.
“We’ve had loads of things captured, including photographs that audience members have taken showing orbs, strange faces, all sorts of stuff.”
Flecky is so persuasive at bringing the haunting stories to life, that he is convinced a ghost has even posed as an audience member on one of his walks!
The corridors of the town hall are said to be patrolled by a Victorian policeman, and Ian thinks it was this spirit who came to run the rule over Flecky.
He explained: “I took this big gentleman around the first part of the tour in the town hall, and then he disappeared. He was stood in the middle of the group, but no-one saw him disappear and there was nowhere he could have gone, it was a big open area.
“The next day I explained to the town hall what had happened and they said he sounded like a police officer who died in the late 1800’s.
“I looked up a photograph of him and it was definitely the man who was on the tour. It was incredibly bizarre, really strange.”
If the ghosts themselves are curious enough to take a tour, surely even as a non-believer it might be worth investigating what is out there?
Ms Taggart feels that the only way to be convinced is to give it a try, as you may well be in for a supernatural surprise.
She said: “I would say go with an open mind and see for yourself.
“We are not here to make you believe, but if you leave at the end of the night thinking, yes, there may be something to it, then we are happy.
“We don’t want to convert people, we leave that to the spirits.”