The Gorbals Vampire

Just a hop skip and a jump away from the main streets of Glasgow is a place known at The Gorbals. The Gorbals has been a part of Glasgow for centuries and originally began as a fashionable village which soon took off in popularity. However, it soon became known as one of the poorest parts of Glasgow and was often overcrowded, dingy, and even a bit scary. Although police showing up to the Gorbals isn’t exactly event in September 1954 stands out and started off a fear for the Gorbals Vampire.

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On September 23rd, 1954 police were called to the Southern Necropolis, one of the graveyards in the Gorbals. Alex Deeprose, a police constable, was the first to arrive on the scene. And he was in for quite a shock. Seemingly inexplicably, hundreds of children were running all around the graveyard. The kids, though, were armed - they had crosses, crucifixes, axes, and even knives. The children ranged in ages from 14 all the way to toddlers. But why were they running around a graveyard with weapons in the middle of the night?

Deeprose, in a bit of a panic, didn’t know how to corral the unruly horde. He finally got a hold of some of the children and asked them what they were doing. They replied simply that they were hunting the Gorbals Vampire, a 7-foot tall creature with iron teeth sharp enough to eviscerate other children. They believed that this creature was behind the murders of two other children that had recently died in the graveyard.  

More police arrived on the scene but they were unable to calm the children as they continued to hunt for the monster that had taken their friends. Finally, it began to rain and a local headmaster told the children to scram (apparently, headmasters are more frightening than police officers) and the children disbanded.

However, the children returned in full force the next night...and in varying numbers for the rest of the week. At this time, the police had been called multiple times and the legend of the Gorbals Vampire was beginning to spread amongst the residents of the Gorbals.

Parents began to worry about the creature that was stalking and killing children in the dead of night and rumors continued to spread on the playground.

A student at the time, Kenny Hughes, when interviewed years later said, “The children’s terror ‘built up and built up until it basically became mass hysteria.”

And, perhaps, this strange tale of the vampire with iron teeth and children swarming the graveyard was just that...a strange tale. While the children vampire hunting in the graveyard at night, illuminated by the fire of the nearby steelworks, was very real...the tale of the vampire may just have been a tall tale. According to investigations by the police at the time and later legend-hunters, no children were reported missing or found dead in the area during the time. 

According to the Scotsman, the children may have updated the town’s local boogeyman into something more easily hunted, “Myths of iron-toothed monsters have haunted Glasgow for some time. According to Tam Smith, parents sometimes warned their badly behaved offspring that the ‘Iron Man’ – a local ogre – would get them.”

Vampires appearing as villains in comics around this time were also blamed for the updated iron-tooth monster. Not to mention that vampires, unlike nondescript iron-toothed monsters, have very specific things that can kill them. Which, may have made the hunt for them even easier and more attractive to the child horde that would descend upon the Necropolis. 

Thank you Kristy R for contributing this topic suggestion for #Blogstonishing 2019!

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. It was posted by Robert Kelley.