Astonishing Legends is no stranger to haunted roads (seriously, check out our Resurrection Mary series) but we haven’t visited many haunted roads outside of America. Tonight on the blog, we’re exploring the history behind the Stocksbridge Bypass (A616), which links Sheffield to Manchester.
The hauntings for this stretch of land didn’t begin with the road. In fact, it seems that the road wasn’t haunted so much as the land it was built on. Several local legends discuss various origins for why the land is haunted or cursed. One of the most popular stories, surprisingly, involves a monk. It is said that the monk had slowly become disillusioned with religion and when he finally passed the church decided to bury him near the future road in an unconsecrated grave. Other stories say that there were mine shafts dotted throughout the area and that these shafts were not clearly marked. Sadly, many children were said to have fallen or gotten lost in these shafts and died, their bodies never recovered.
Now that we have some potential reasonings behind why it might be haunted, let’s discuss some of the experiences travelers have had on the bypass.
The most well-known, and earliest, stories of the haunted bypass takes place in September 1987. While the bypass was being built security guards were hired to protect construction materials and ensure nothing would go awry. Two of these security guards were just going about their business on September 8th. Or so they thought. However, a call received by Peter Owens, the supervisor of these two men, shattered any idea of September 8th being a normal night.
The two men told their story which happened at roughly 12:30am. They had been driving along patrolling the road when they saw the unsettling sight of children playing in the construction zone. While they noticed that the children were wearing out of date clothing, they were more concerned that they were so far away from home and close to dangerous wiring and construction materials.
After watching for a little while they decided to approach and take the children home, but when they walked over to the children they vanished and there were no footprints or signs of children playing.
The next morning after word got out about the story other members of the construction team said they had heard children’s voices during the night, too.
But, that isn’t where the story ends. The following night the same two men were on patrol and this time they encountered something even more haunting. This time they saw a tall, cloaked figure that they described as ‘monk-like’. When they approached this man, just like when they approached the children, he vanished. They called their supervisor once again and called the police station. The officer that answered jokes that it sounded they needed a priest, not a policeman. The two security guards later reached out to the church and demanded an exorcism on the site.
The police decided to visit the site on September 11th. Thinking they saw something, both men rushed out of the car but it turned out to just be a construction sheet flapping in the wind. When they returned to the car, Officer Ellis got a horrible feeling and, turning to look out the side window, saw a dark, clothed torso pressed against the door. It abruptly vanished and reappeared on Officer Beet’s door. They both jumped out of the car but could not find the body. Returning to the car, they found it wouldn’t start. After several attempts, the car finally started and as they were pulling out they heard a huge bang on the side of the car with no explainable cause.
Both officers reported it had been the most terrifying experiences of their lives.
While this may have been the first encounter it would be long for the last. Since the bypass was completed in 1988, experiences have poured in.
For example, on New Year’s Eve, 1997, a couple was driving home on the quiet road when a figure suddenly appeared in front of them. Startled, and not wanting to cause harm to the person, they swerved violently. Luckily, no harm was done to them but when they went out to retrieve the person, there was no one there.
Paul Ford also had to swerve to avoid something unexplainable. When he was 28 he and his wife were driving to Jane’s sister’s home in Stocksbridge. While driving, Paul spotted a figure in the middle of the road. He says, ‘I just slammed the brakes on and swerved to avoid hitting it, and it was only through Jane grabbing the wheel that we managed to stop the car from crashing.,’ said Paul. Jane added: ‘If I hadn’t have been in the car Paul could have been killed or seriously injured and it left both of us badly shaken up. It was a very frightening experience and I think it might explain why there have been so many accidents on that road.’ The pair continued their journey in a state of shock and were visibly shaking when they arrived at their destination.”
To this day, he still will not use the road.
Interestingly enough, this particular road has (statistically) some of the worst accident records in the region. So, is the road truly haunted? Or, has folklore sprung up around since its construction as a way to warn people of the dangerous driving conditions?
Thanks to Dave I for the suggestion!
The Stocksbridge Bypass from Underbank Road by Wendy North. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.