The charming village of Woodchester lies astride the A46 where that main road runs through a narrow valley with sides exceptionally steep for Gloucestershire. Down the eastern slope runs a narrow lane which meets the main highway at a crossroads. It is down this slope that the terrifying Flame Coach makes its journey. Leaping into vision, the coach and four begins its journey as it comes lumbering at speed over the crest of the hill. Flames pour from its windows while dense clouds of smoke and glowing sparks trail in its wake. The coachman is hauling on the reins in a desperate attempt to pull the clearly terrified horses to a halt, but nothing stops them. Down the hill plunges this startling apparition, the coach swaying alarmingly and seeming on the point of tipping over. Then it reaches the village and vanishes, just as suddenly as if an electric light were switched off.
There are other phantom coaches in Gloucestershire to which neither story nor famous name is attached. One drives through Saddlewood, a second gallops across Rodborough Common and a third drives up to Kingswood House at Wotton under Edge. The apparently similar phantom carriages of Wickwar and Frocester Hill have not been seen recently, but the apparition at Coleford made a spectacular entrance in the 1990s. It came from nowhere on the Bream Road, materialising right in front of a motorist driving down the lane. He slammed on his brakes and lost control of his vehicle, which slid off the road. Fortunately the man was shaken up, not injured, but it was clearly a narrow escape.
This is an extract from Haunted Gloucestershire by Rupert Matthews.