Thursday, 10 April 2014

Odd Things in Lancashire

Odd Things in Lancashire

Lancashire is a county of mixed aspect. There are the great industrial cities of Manchester and Liverpool, both now separated from the county for the purposes of local government. There is the county town of Lancaster, still dominated by its ancient castle, and a scattering of prosperous market towns. This has long been an important county to England. The Queen of England still draws much of her income from the estates she holds as the Duke of Lancaster and the county is the only one that has a seat in the national government, for the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a member of the cabinet.

But it is the landscape that defines the county. Lying between the great natural boundaries of the Mersey to the south, the Pennines to the east and the Cumbrian mountains to the north, Lancashire has long looked out across the wild waters of the Irish Sea to the west and beyond them to the Atlantic. And with over a hundred miles of coastline, the county has a lot of looking to do. Nowhere have the good folk of Lancashire looked out across the waves more often than from Blackpool, playground of the north.

Some of those who have gazed out across the sparkling waters have seen a very odd sight indeed. Somewhere, out among the haze between sea and sky, have been seen the spires of churches. And those who have taken pleasure boats out on to the sea have heard the distant sound of church bells. This is the ghostly lost city of the west. Centuries ago, Lancashire stretched out much further to the west than it does now. Sadly a great flood poured in from the Irish Sea, drowning the land and driving out the inhabitants. The ruins still lie beneath the sea and the bells can be heard in rough weather, while on calm days the phantoms of the lost parishes rise above the waves.

Nor is there any respite at Blackpool for those who turn their eyes inland. In the early hours of the morning, when all is quiet and still, a lone tram will trundle down the Promenade. Its lights are lit, but it never stops to collect passengers nor does its driver slow down for any reason. This is the ghost tram that has been running this route for the past century.

from "The Ghosthunter's Guide to England" by Rupert Matthews

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