This is Geof James, I am seventy years of age, and I live in Queensland Australia.
The following narrative is sincere and truthful. I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to make the following story up. All I can say is that it happened.
When this occurrence happened, I would have been about three-and-a-half years of age, and I have never forgotten it. This would have been in 1951 / 52.
My understanding is that this particular house came as a ‘job package’ with my father’s employment. I still can recall some parts of the house and its general interior layout.
At this time, my parents and my sister (younger than myself), were living at 36 Canal Street, Derby. I was four years of age when we moved to Willington.
I was never brought up with “bogey-man” tales or other happenings to cause some fear or to obtain obedience from me. Therefore, I cannot say that such imaginings were put into my head, for me to invoke an “event” later.
Despite my young age, I can recall this particular evening and event. The house was somewhat large, and it had a semi-spiral staircase, with a red-colored stair-carpet on the treads and risers. At the top of this stair case was a landing, which led to the bedrooms and bathroom.
For whatever reason, I always used to ask my mother to leave the curtains open, and occasionally the window to be partly open. It was one of these “sash” type of windows that opened/closed vertically.
On the adjacent wall to the window was the door to the landing. This door was in the area of the foot of the bed and to the right of the bed. The side of the bed was across from this wall, with the bed-head on the wall behind me.
There was a small table close to the head of the bed, where I always had a tumbler of water, as often I would awaken overnight and have a drink of water…..which continues to this day.
When in bed, and before the forthcoming event happened, I sometimes would hear, what I thought to be a voice of someone, who was speaking very softly…….something like a loud whisper. The way this voice spoke, it sounded to me as if this person was looking for someone, but in a more inquiring fashion.
Sometimes I never heard this “voice”, but it always came back; even if eventually.
There was just the one word spoke, but it was repeated. This sounded to my ears to be, “Jack? Jack?” These two words would stop for a short while and then the same two words were softly repeated. This may happen three or four times and then stop; as if the person had gone away.
I had no idea as to which gender this “voice” belonged. All of this caused me no issues whatsoever, and it certainly never frightened me. It was just there, from time-to-time, after I went to bed.
The incident which I am about to relate, I can well recall. My mother put me to bed, and as per usual, the curtains were left open and the window slightly “cracked” open.
I never heard the soft-spoken words of inquiry, and so I must have fallen asleep. Later I awoke, to what sounded like two cats fighting outside (we had no pets….but there were a couple of cats that came into the small garden); and during all this screeching and wailing from these cats, there was the sound of what appeared to me as being of empty tin-cans rolling falling onto a paved surface, and then rolling along this surface.
I imagined that the cats had run into such cans, and toppled these over. All of this certainly caused me no concerns. I had a drink of water and I must have gone back to sleep.
I was awoken by a lady laughing. She was in front of the bed-side table, and between the edge of my bed and the wall (where the door was located, which in turn was adjacent to the window, at the foot of my bed).
The lady was a nondescript color, being a dark-grey. However, I could see some patterns and frills on her dress. This was “bell-shaped”, front and back, but more so at the back; and something that would be seen in the late 1700s to early 1800s.
Her hair was pulled backward and in the fashion of “bun” at the back of her head. She appeared to have long-sleeves on her dress, that had a lace or other frill material close to her wrists. There seemed to be something like a “frill” or a lace collar to her dress. This lady had a bracelet on her right wrist.
However, the most significant detail of this particular lady, to me, was that she was laughing, but more so, by the way, that she actually laughed. Her laughing was very loud, and it could be best described as being in the form of what is sometimes referred to as ‘hysterical laughter’.
She had both her hands over her face and partly on her forehead, whilst she endlessly laughed. Throughout this laughing, she was “rocking” forward-and-back up again, from waist-level.
I do not recall if I was frightened, but even at my tender age at the time, I thought that something was amiss. I left my bed, and went into my parent’s bedroom, awoke them and told them that there was a lady laughing in my room.
And that is my story of the lady at 36, Canal Street, Derby. Nothing frightening, but I would love to know if something ever went awry in the history of this house, long before we occupied it.
Very many years later (I must have been around seventeen or eighteen at the time), I learned that this house had originally been built by a person that arrived in Derby from, what is now, Belgium.
My understanding is that this person was associated with, or was, a founding member of the soft-drink manufacturer; “Burrows and Sturgess”, of Derby. (That would require investigative authentication, which I have never performed).
This newly learned piece of news (at that time), made me prick my ears up, as it made me think (or I should say at least consider), was the “voice” that I sometimes heard when in my bedroom, which caused me no alarm or other concern not be saying “Jack? Jack,?”, but in fact, could it have been“Jacques?” “Jacques?”; or even being the shortened form of Jacqueline in the French / Belgique dialect?
(I have wondered whether the ‘person’ voicing “Jack” / “Jacques”, was actually looking for a“Jack” somewhere in the house, so calling out softly to get a response from “Jack”, to locate that person’s whereabouts).
Very many years later, I learned that my parents often heard “talking” elsewhere in the house, and persons moving about in the house, as well as furniture being shuffled about. However, there was never any evidence on inspection/investigation of any furniture that had been moved.
There were neighbors (I never knew them of course), who always had visitors and they made some noises. However these people left, and I was informed that the noises and inaudible “talking” within the house persisted on.
(My mother was somewhat concerned and rather uneasy at times about this house. Apparently, my father was not so inclined. This attitude of my father may have been related to the fact that during World War II, he served in the R.A.F. as aircrew in bombers, which could be a physically and psychological terrifying experience in itself. Consequently, he had little to no fears of “noises or “voices” emanating from elsewhere in the house. In later life, I cannot recall ever seeing or believing my father to be a fearful type of person).
I recall when in this house, and whether it was pre or post my experience of “the lady”, my aunt (my mother’s sister) visited us from Scotland. The only thing that I can recall was that my aunt, my younger sister and myself were in the lounge-room one night, with “Radio Luxembourg” playing loudly.
My parents had attended some function at Nottingham, and my aunt was “babysitting” my sister and myself. My aunt appeared to be rather distressed as I recall.
My parents returned home, and I can recall my father being the first to enter into the lounge-room. Both my parents were very surprised that my sister and I were still up-and-about, and also the radio playing loudly.The radio’s volume was reduced, and my aunt, who was now in tears, was speaking to both my parents and all on the far side of the room. I never heard one word of this conversation.
I was told, again many years later, that my aunt was very frightened on this evening, as she heard talking outside the lounge-room, along with other noises also (the above-mentioned neighbors had since left).
Therefore to ‘drown out’ these noises and voices, she had greatly increased the radio’s volume, and furthermore, she would not venture outside this room to put my sister and myself to bed.
I tried a number times, after learning of this incident, to get my aunt to tell me her experience of that evening. She adamantly refused to talk about it, and sadly, I never found out directly from the person concerned, what actually occurred. (Apparently, my aunt was always very frightened and alarmed about this house, after her first visit, before that mentioned episode).
We eventually left Derby and moved to the village of Willington, where my father originated. We lived at Willington until September 1962, when we moved to Stafford with my father’s employment.
Many years later, the subject of “36, Canal Street” came into the conversation with one of my father’s friends. My father went on to say to this friend, that the person who moved into the vacated house at 36 Canal Street, Derby when we left for Willington; once pulled my father to one side and asked him if the house was haunted?
Apparently, my father would neither confirm or deny this. This person then told my father that he and his wife had heard all manner of noises within that house, with people talking but “their” conversations were imperceptible.
On one occasion, late one night when he returned home from work, a lady had passed this man on the stairs. This lady said something to him, but he was very tired and unsure of what she had voiced; and didn’t realize this “passing on the stairs”, until he was on the landing.
Furthermore and most interestingly, he told my father that his daughter, who was about six years of age, was very frightened in the house, and that she had heard someone calling out, “Jack”. Furthermore, this little girl had seen a lady laughing very loudly, in her bedroom.
Submitted by Geoff James
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