Haunted by the past

IF THERE S something strange in your neighbourhood…you d be well advised to call this man. Less of a ghostbuster, more of a ghost hunter, Damien O Dell lives in Baldock and is somewhat of a paranormal guru. His new book, Ghostly Hertfordshire, takes an i

IF THERE'S something strange in your neighbourhood...you'd be well advised to call this man.

Less of a ghostbuster, more of a ghost hunter, Damien O'Dell lives in Baldock and is somewhat of a paranormal guru.

His new book, Ghostly Hertfordshire, takes an in-depth look at our supernatural neighbours.

This is the second in his series, proceeding Damien's first book Ghostly Bedfordshire, and neither county has let him down when it comes to eerie goings on.

It appears Comet country is alive with spirits and ghouls and Damien has concisely and engagingly written about his spiritual adventures, including the stories he's heard along the way.

Homes, pubs, shops and churches are just some of the buildings said to be haunted and there's at least one in every town and village.

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Damien said: "There's a lot of interesting history and haunted places in the area, both counties are very rich in true ghost stories and I'm hearing more all the time."

One such tale involves the Cock pub in Baldock.

Its landlords' suspicions were first aroused by their dogs.

Normally quiet and well behaved, when they moved into the pub they would bark loudly and excitedly at an upstairs cupboard, in a room that remains cold, whatever the weather outside.

Downstairs in the bar, bottles left at the front of the shelves would, overnight, end up at the back.

Experimentation with dowsing rods unearthed violent reactions within the pub and a psychic has theorised that the place may be haunted by three ghosts.

Letchworth GC is not noted for ghost stories, but its environs have some intriguing tales.

In Willian, the scariest spook to pass through the village is the notorious Phantom Jogger.

Many witnesses are unwilling to discuss their experiences but a jogger has been seen on the lanes through Willian and described as an evil-intentioned ghost with a menacing, smiling face.

In Stevenage Damien found hardly anything written or reported concerning paranormal activity but further investigations led him to some interesting ghoulish tales.

He writes: "Not too many people are aware that the British Aerospace site in Gunnels Wood Road is haunted.

"Prior to its industrialisation, a huge burial mound used to run from north to south almost to the full extent of the site.

"Over a long period of years, numerous reports have been received of Roman soldiers marching about three metres off the ground down the length of the former burial ground."

There are many more equally ghostly stories to be told and even if you're a spook sceptic there's significant background history about our towns and villages included in the books.

Damien's passion for the paranormal has been bubbling for years, "My interest began when I was 12 and I saw my first ghost at the back of our garden in Odell, Bedfordshire.

"Me and my best friend saw a man walking at a slow pace.

"It was a misty shape but I wasn't scared, I was just really curious.

"I wondered if it was a reflection and I tried to work it out in my head so I'm still looking for answers now and that's what drives me on really."

Damien believes there are scientific reasons for ghostly activity that we humans are not yet sophisticated enough to explain and he's not too fussed about sceptics either.

"I'm not out there to convert them, to me sceptics are simply people who've not had anything paranormal happen to them," he said.

"I know what I've seen and I know what I believe.

"Hopefully one day we'll be able to explain more and that's what is so exciting about what we do."

"We", is a group of self-proclaimed ghost hunters called APIS (Anglia Paranormal Investigators' Society).

Their services are available to people whose ghostly room-mates may not be that welcome and Damien is keen for more paranormal groups to form.

If that's too much for you then delve into one of his ghostly books for a different view of the place where you live. But be careful, there may be a frightening story just over the page...and that ghost could be just around the corner...

APIS' next meeting is on June 17 at the Weatherly Centre in Biggleswade and all spirits are welcome.

Email Damien on apisghosthunters@yahoo.co.uk