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During the course of researching the recent articles on haunted roads, I came across the tale of the Stocksbridge Bypass and its claim to be Britain’s most haunted road. I’d encountered the tale again but thought it was interesting enough to warrant an article in its own right.
The Stocksbridge Bypass is a part of the road called the A616 that connects Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire with the M1 motorway at Junction 30 then again from Junction 35A through to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. The section known as the Stocksbridge Bypass is where the road crosses the B6088 before reaching Barnsley and is within the Sheffield area. The bypass was opened in May 1988 to connect the M1 with the Woodhead Pass and the A616. The bridge around which many of the stories are based is called the Pea Royd Bridge but is known locally as Ghost Bridge.
The original story
The most well-known account of the hauntings of the area comes from September 1987. Two security guards were employed by the McAlpine construction company during the building of the bypass and on the night of the 8th, their supervisor received a frantic called from them. Peter Owens arrived at the site to find two big, tough guys in a state of hysteria.
The men told a story that started the night before, around 12:30 am when they had been driving along Pearoyd Lane close to the steelworks at Stocksbridge. They were shocked to see children playing on the construction site they were tasked with guarding, close to the electricity pylon and far from any houses. They decided to investigate and parked the car, pausing to watch the kids skipping and playing. They did notice that the children were wearing strangely out of date clothing.
As they approached the children, suddenly they were nowhere to be seen. They reached the spot where they had been playing and were further shocked to see no footprints in the muddy ground on the spot.
The following morning, they talked to other workers on the site and were told that others had hear children’s voices during the night while they were resting in the caravans provided for them.
The next night
The following night, the 8th, the two men were once again on patrol when this time they encountered something definitely scarier. As they were approaching the Pearoyd Lane site, they saw a tall, dark figure that they described as a ‘monk’ who then promptly vanished when the headlights reached him.
It was this that caused them to ring their supervisor and he was so concerned about their state and their story that he called the local police station, Deepcar. The officer on duty, PC Ellis, said they sounded like they needed a priest rather than a policeman.
Later in the day, the same officer received a phone call from a priest named Stuart Brindley. He was asking for help with two security guards who were in his church, demanding that he exorcise the Pearoyd Lane site. They were highly distressed and he was very concerned about them.
Two officers, PC Ellis and Special Constable John Beet were sent to the site and visited it on the 11th September. Both were naturally sceptical about the stories and thought it was almost amusing. They parked the car and waited, expecting nothing would happen. However, a short time later, movement caught their eye on the bridge. Ellis got out of the car and ran towards the bridge only to find a piece of tarpaulin flapping in the wind.
Returning to the car, they decided to give it a little longer before leaving for the night. At that point, Ellis expressed a strange sensation like ‘someone walking over his grave’. He glanced to the side of the vehicle only to see a dark, clothed torso pressed against the door with a white v-shaped piece of material running down its chest. No sooner had Ellis seen it than the apparition vanished, only to appear at Beet’s side of the car. Ellis jumped out of the car and investigated, to find nothing so got back in the car and started the engine – but the car wouldn’t start.
On the third attempt, the car started and the pair drove to the construction area, radioing in their location. There was then a loud bang on the car as if it had been hit by a blunt object but there was no cause in sight. Ellis climbed out again and there was another bang so he returned to the car and the pair hurriedly left the site.
Both men reported what they had encountered and said that they had never experienced fear as intense as during the encounter with the entity.
Why the haunting?
Many believe that cause of the haunting isn’t the road or the bridge itself but rather the land on which it is built. Stories vary but one tells of a monk who had become disillusioned with his religion and was buried in the area in an unconscreated grave and that it is his spirit that the men and others have seen. Another story says there were mine shafts in the area and the children are the spirits of those who fell down them and died, their bodies never recovered.
In 1997, a couple made a report that they were driving along the road on New Year’s Eve and had to swerve to avoid a figure that appeared in the middle of the road in front of them. Statistics show that the road does have a higher than average number of accidents on it and there are a few accounts of a figure on the road or children appearing. Within 10 years of the bypass opening, 14 people had died in accidents and hundreds more injured, with a local MP labelling it a ‘accident blackspot’.
Nor are children and the monk the only ones to haunt the area. A black dog has been reported to run onto the road from surrounding fields while a woman in white has been seen along with one of the weirdest of sightings – fairies dancing around in the moonlight. Some believe that the road may have crossed one of their ‘fairy hills’ and this is the reason for the accidents. You can also see several first-hand accounts on Dr David Clark’s website – https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/urban-legendary/road-ghosts/
The Stocksbridge Bypass definitely has the credentials to be a contender for the most haunted road in Britain. Have you ever travelled the road and seen something? I’d love to hear your story if you have!