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Thread: "Old Trash" - Phantom Black Dogs around the Formby/Southport area

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    Default "Old Trash" - Phantom Black Dogs around the Formby/Southport area

    I've found a few accounts of phantom black dogs (prevalent in folklore across the British Isles) associated with the coast around Formby. I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who had ever encountered any of these beasts or who knows anything more about them.


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    Senior Member fortinian's Avatar
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    The Black Dog myth is usually assosiated with areas that have had some nordic influence - usually through the Vikings. It has been postulated that the Black Dogs were actually the Vikings themselves as there are Old English references to them as Sea-Wolves and Sea-Dogs, possibly because they wore the pelts of Wolves as battle dress. The idea of these Dogs attacking a terrorising communities fits quite well with the raiding expeditions carried out by the Vikings.

    As you are probably aware Formby has a Viking history so I do not find it suprising that there are traces of this myth found there. I'm sorry I can't give you are more info specific to Formby. Good luck with the search.

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    Senior Member johnreppion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortinian View Post
    The Black Dog myth is usually assosiated with areas that have had some nordic influence - usually through the Vikings. It has been postulated that the Black Dogs were actually the Vikings themselves as there are Old English references to them as Sea-Wolves and Sea-Dogs, possibly because they wore the pelts of Wolves as battle dress. The idea of these Dogs attacking a terrorising communities fits quite well with the raiding expeditions carried out by the Vikings.

    As you are probably aware Formby has a Viking history so I do not find it suprising that there are traces of this myth found there. I'm sorry I can't give you are more info specific to Formby. Good luck with the search.
    Thank you very much fortinian.

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    Thirty-odd years ago, self and motley chums would often spend weekends camping in a secluded wooded area in the 'no man's land' between the nature reserve and the golf course, approached via Freshfield railway station and the Fisherman's Path. Guitars round the fire, a few drinks 'n' smokes, all good clean fun.
    Now, outside the shelter of the trees was an extensive sandy/scrubby area with a steep climb at the end- an old sand dune now well inland- which one had to clamber up in order to make one's way to the beach a quarter mile or so away.
    On one of these trips, a summer night lit by brilliant moonlight, doubtlessly fuelled by cider and Moroccan I decided to do just that, alone, the aim being to have a 'bit of a dip' in the sea.
    I had started the climb up the slope when I heard what sounded for all the world like a steam train, of all things, approaching rapidly from the far side of the dune. I froze in my tracks, the sound getting louder, and almost immediately an enormous black dog appeared on the summit ten feet or so above me, moving at a hell of a lick. And I mean enormous. It may have been the moon playing tricks but I swear it had red eyes. Without a pause it bounded past me down the slope- without paying me the least attention, I'm glad to say. Upon turning round to see where the monster had got to- there was nothing to be seen and even the brute's train-like panting had ceased abruptly.
    I returned to camp with all the speed possible for someone with trousers in that state (not really) and recounted my experience to the others, most of whom, naturally, were greatly amused by the outlandish yarn. One however, a lad from Formby, then recounted the local legend of the black dog and said lots of local folk had claimed to have seen it in the past. That shut them up.
    Now, I'm not what you'd call the 'psychic' type and have never seen or felt anything remotely spooky before or since. In fact, I'd completely forgotten about it until I read the question. But what I've told here is absolutely true. Make of it what you will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by knowhowe View Post
    Thirty-odd years ago, self and motley chums would often spend weekends camping in a secluded wooded area in the 'no man's land' between the nature reserve and the golf course, approached via Freshfield railway station and the Fisherman's Path. Guitars round the fire, a few drinks 'n' smokes, all good clean fun.
    Now, outside the shelter of the trees was an extensive sandy/scrubby area with a steep climb at the end- an old sand dune now well inland- which one had to clamber up in order to make one's way to the beach a quarter mile or so away.
    On one of these trips, a summer night lit by brilliant moonlight, doubtlessly fuelled by cider and Moroccan I decided to do just that, alone, the aim being to have a 'bit of a dip' in the sea.
    I had started the climb up the slope when I heard what sounded for all the world like a steam train, of all things, approaching rapidly from the far side of the dune. I froze in my tracks, the sound getting louder, and almost immediately an enormous black dog appeared on the summit ten feet or so above me, moving at a hell of a lick. And I mean enormous. It may have been the moon playing tricks but I swear it had red eyes. Without a pause it bounded past me down the slope- without paying me the least attention, I'm glad to say. Upon turning round to see where the monster had got to- there was nothing to be seen and even the brute's train-like panting had ceased abruptly.
    I returned to camp with all the speed possible for someone with trousers in that state (not really) and recounted my experience to the others, most of whom, naturally, were greatly amused by the outlandish yarn. One however, a lad from Formby, then recounted the local legend of the black dog and said lots of local folk had claimed to have seen it in the past. That shut them up.
    Now, I'm not what you'd call the 'psychic' type and have never seen or felt anything remotely spooky before or since. In fact, I'd completely forgotten about it until I read the question. But what I've told here is absolutely true. Make of it what you will.
    Now that is the very definition of what I am looking for. Almost too good to be true. Would it be alright if I used your very eloquent account in my book?

    Fantastic stuff, made my night that has.
    Last edited by johnreppion; 03-12-2008 at 02:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by researchwriter View Post
    I've found a few accounts of phantom black dogs (prevalent in folklore across the British Isles) associated with the coast around Formby. I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who had ever encountered any of these beasts or who knows anything more about them.

    Cheers

    I lived in Formby throughout my childhood and teens, in fact from around 1935 `til 1960. I lived close to a road which was and still is called RAVEN MEOLS LANE , this was said to have been the route taken by marauding Viking bands making their way inland from where they had landed on the coast. It is well known that Viking banners usually figured a `Raven`. Also, the word `Meols` actually means `banner`. So, `fortinian` is quite correct about the Viking connection. However, about your `black dogs` and the one that `knowhowe` claims to have seen in the sandhills, it is certainly not for me to speculate on what `knowehowe`may or may not have seen, but the said `black dog` was unheard of or never mentioned in the Formby I grew up in. My Mum was widowed my Dad being lost at sea. Throughout my child hood I loved the sea and its ships, and I used to take every possible opportunity to go off to the shore simply to watch the ships go by. [They were very numerous in those days ]. Throughout many years I spent thousands of hours roaming the sandhills of Formby after school and late into the night completely alone in daylight and darkness. [and weekends of course]. Throughout all those years I never saw or even heard tell of any `black dogs`. Formby folk in those days were really country folk and many of them quite superstitious, yet I never ever heard a single mention of `black dogs`. There was an old hermit called Billy Tasker who lived for very many years in a shack amidst the Formby sand dunes completely isolated and alone. If there had been any `black dogs` around he certainly would have known. I spent many many hours with him and he never made mention of such things. I can only now leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    Regards,
    Ken.

    PS:- I also roamed Freshfield sand dunes and those of Hightown and Hall Road extensively as well as Formby, and knew them all like the back of my hand, day or night. No `black dogs` in those places either !!!
    Last edited by Trampshipman; 07-25-2010 at 05:18 PM. Reason: to add post script.

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    Senior Member merseywail's Avatar
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    Funny this thread is titled "old trash", That's what most of these tail's usually are. Entertaining but totally without evidence or facts, like Tom Slemen's books.
    These things take time, Rome wasn't built in a day you know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by merseywail View Post
    Funny this thread is titled "old trash", That's what most of these tail's usually are. Entertaining but totally without evidence or facts, like Tom Slemen's books.
    I agree with the sentiment but not with what you have said. The 'Black Dog' meme has a long history and has been the subject of academic study, it is a valid cultural artifact.

    Linking it to Formby however is a different matter, and it's this part I agree with you on.

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    These sort of tails do have a long history, but there is little truth in them.
    Like many similar myths they were probably started long ago to frighten the young, to stop them getting lost, or going into dangerous places.
    It is interesting though, how these story's have developed & been added to over time
    These things take time, Rome wasn't built in a day you know.
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    Yes, there's really no Ginny green teeth either. Unless, who's that at No.42?
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    knowhowe, where did your cider come from?

    http://www.indigogroup.co.uk/edge/bdogfl.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trampshipman View Post
    I lived in Formby throughout my childhood and teens, in fact from around 1935 `til 1960. I lived close to a road which was and still is called RAVEN MEOLS LANE , this was said to have been the route taken by marauding Viking bands making their way inland from where they had landed on the coast. It is well known that Viking banners usually figured a `Raven`. Also, the word `Meols` actually means `banner`. So, `fortinian` is quite correct about the Viking connection. However, about your `black dogs` and the one that `knowhowe` claims to have seen in the sandhills, it is certainly not for me to speculate on what `knowehowe`may or may not have seen, but the said `black dog` was unheard of or never mentioned in the Formby I grew up in. My Mum was widowed my Dad being lost at sea. Throughout my child hood I loved the sea and its ships, and I used to take every possible opportunity to go off to the shore simply to watch the ships go by. [They were very numerous in those days ]. Throughout many years I spent thousands of hours roaming the sandhills of Formby after school and late into the night completely alone in daylight and darkness. [and weekends of course]. Throughout all those years I never saw or even heard tell of any `black dogs`. Formby folk in those days were really country folk and many of them quite superstitious, yet I never ever heard a single mention of `black dogs`. There was an old hermit called Billy Tasker who lived for very many years in a shack amidst the Formby sand dunes completely isolated and alone. If there had been any `black dogs` around he certainly would have known. I spent many many hours with him and he never made mention of such things. I can only now leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    Regards,
    Ken.

    PS:- I also roamed Freshfield sand dunes and those of Hightown and Hall Road extensively as well as Formby, and knew them all like the back of my hand, day or night. No `black dogs` in those places either !!!
    Trampshipman, thanks for taking the time to share your own local knowledge on the subject.

    It does seem odd that, having been born and raised in the area, you never encountered any local stories about Old Trash (or Guy Trash/Gytrash as mentioned Charlotte Brontė's Jane Eyre). My original source for the tale came from Peter Underwood's 1984 book This Haunted Isle and I came on Yo Liverpool having drawn a blank when searching for further Formby specific material concerning Black Dogs (which, as Fortinian and Oudeis point out, are a long standing staple of British folklore. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_dog_%28ghost%29).

    knowhowe's experience was shocking but not overtly supernatural, so far as I remember him saying. It wasn't until he read my post that he made any connection any local legend. I found no accounts of the legend in Formby pre-dating Underwood's reference but he is generally considered to be a reliable source in matters of folklore and ghostlore (see http://www.peterunderwood.org.uk/index.htm) so I pretty much took him at his word. Checking the entry I see that he may have got his data from a local newspaper sometime in late October... which might explain a thing or two. From the way you describe you're upbringing, it does seem highly unlikely that you would not have heard of such a legend if there was one in the area. Highly unlikely but, I am willing to believe, not entirely impossible.

    merseywail, when I'm writing on matters of folklore, I always do my very best to back everything I'm saying up with as many footnotes and references as possible. I'm always open and honest about where I get my material from and I'm infinitely more interested in the cultural and historical routes of tales rather than turning them into a twist laden yarn. As a result, I kind of resent being lumped in with anyone else who happens to write on similar subjects without you're having actually read my book or any of my articles. I write fiction for a living, I write about local history and folklore as an entirely separate thing.
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    Researchwriter, I was struck by knowhowe's mention of the red eyes. His sighting coming before his hearing anything of the tale.
    I wonder if the idea of the Black-Dog as portent of death has any meaning for him, how did his pals fair shortly after this visit? He will let us know I'm sure.
    The train noises were odd too, for the tales predate the trains. How the supposed noises were described before trains? Maybe this gives rise to the mention of other beast shapes?

    Good luck with your searches.

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    No offence intended its just my personal opinion on the subject. Am sure there are many who are fascinated by these myths, am just not one of them. There are lots of modern "tail's" that one day am sure will become folk law, crop circles, moon landing hoax, 911 conspiracies, ufo's, etc. I just don't understand why people choose to believe in such things. Perhaps your studies could enlighten us.
    These things take time, Rome wasn't built in a day you know.
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    I don't suppose it's about 'believing' in the actual thing itself but having an understanding of how these tales orginate and and passed on can tell us more about the human condition and its apparent need for a supernatural dimension to life.

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    .. and Spring Heel Jack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lindylou View Post
    .. and Spring Heel Jack.

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    I have the front to post this just because Lancashire is mentioned early on...

    http://www.forteantimes.com/reviews/...of_bungay.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by researchwriter View Post
    Trampshipman, thanks for taking the time to share your own local knowledge on the subject.

    It does seem odd that, having been born and raised in the area, you never encountered any local stories about Old Trash (or Guy Trash/Gytrash as mentioned Charlotte Brontė's Jane Eyre). My original source for the tale came from Peter Underwood's 1984 book This Haunted Isle and I came on Yo Liverpool having drawn a blank when searching for further Formby specific material concerning Black Dogs (which, as Fortinian and Oudeis point out, are a long standing staple of British folklore. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_dog_%28ghost%29).

    knowhowe's experience was shocking but not overtly supernatural, so far as I remember him saying. It wasn't until he read my post that he made any connection any local legend. I found no accounts of the legend in Formby pre-dating Underwood's reference but he is generally considered to be a reliable source in matters of folklore and ghostlore (see http://www.peterunderwood.org.uk/index.htm) so I pretty much took him at his word. Checking the entry I see that he may have got his data from a local newspaper sometime in late October... which might explain a thing or two. From the way you describe you're upbringing, it does seem highly unlikely that you would not have heard of such a legend if there was one in the area. Highly unlikely but, I am willing to believe, not entirely impossible.

    merseywail, when I'm writing on matters of folklore, I always do my very best to back everything I'm saying up with as many footnotes and references as possible. I'm always open and honest about where I get my material from and I'm infinitely more interested in the cultural and historical routes of tales rather than turning them into a twist laden yarn. As a result, I kind of resent being lumped in with anyone else who happens to write on similar subjects without you're having actually read my book or any of my articles. I write fiction for a living, I write about local history and folklore as an entirely separate thing.
    Researchwriter,
    Your acknowledgement of my post is greatly appreciated. Actually I had nothing to tell you really, did I ? So....actually I told you nothing if you see what I mean ? Anyhow, thanks for your courtesy in replying. Good luck in your searches.

    Regards,
    Ken.

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    Hi folks

    Whether the Black Dog really exists or not I don't know but Steve's account is certainly interesting. Of course there is a Meols on the Wirral north shore as well as at Formby. I came across this blog on Wirral Vikings that you might find of interest.

    Chris
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    I posted a reply but was told I hadn`t logged in - I had, actually - why is everything made so difficult on this site?

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    Well, that`s off my chest. I read John Reppion`s book "800 Years of Haunted Liverpool" and it is excellent. One of the photos (Liver Building) is a bit misleading as only the top section of its two towers are visible behind the Post of Liverpool Building. There were a couple of misprints, but I realise I`m nitpicking! The feature on the Old Necropolis/Grant Gardens interested me - more anon.
    Last edited by ThePenkethPedant; 07-30-2010 at 01:16 AM. Reason: mistyped word

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    The Old Necropolis, corner of Everton Road/West Derby Road, opposite the Hippodrome as was, in the mid-50s was a forest of stone monuments. I have often wondered what happened to all the monuments,tablets,gravestones etc when they were removed and the cemetery became a park. I expect that burial records are in the Central Library archives; the author refers to 80,000 nameless bodies still interred beneath the surface.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThePenkethPedant View Post
    The Old Necropolis, corner of Everton Road/West Derby Road, opposite the Hippodrome as was, in the mid-50s was a forest of stone monuments. I have often wondered what happened to all the monuments,tablets,gravestones etc when they were removed and the cemetery became a park. I expect that burial records are in the Central Library archives; the author refers to 80,000 nameless bodies still interred beneath the surface.
    The Necropolis was closed about 1910,and converted to a public park,Grant gardens,which opened a couple of years later!
    Test drilling around that area,recently,re' the proposed Merseytram route,uncovered human remains,so you can only assume that all remains, weren't removed!

    Pic's courtesy of L.R.O.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThePenkethPedant View Post
    I posted a reply but was told I hadn`t logged in - I had, actually - why is everything made so difficult on this site?

    You probably got timed out PP. It happens quite a lot. Have a read of this thread -

    http://www.yoliverpool.com/forum/sho...G-IN...LOG-IN-!!!

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    Thanks -the book states that it was closed in 1895. I don`t think it became a park as early as 1912 - as I said, in the mid-50s it was still a cemetery with all its monuments,albeit maybe closed to further burials. My cheif enquiry is -what happened to the monuments? Nobody seems to know, although I had heard that someone came across some in a Welsh field.....

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    Thank you too, ll - I realised that this was probably the case after I had had my moan -still annoying though!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThePenkethPedant View Post
    Thanks -the book states that it was closed in 1895. I don`t think it became a park as early as 1912 - as I said, in the mid-50s it was still a cemetery with all its monuments,albeit maybe closed to further burials. My cheif enquiry is -what happened to the monuments? Nobody seems to know, although I had heard that someone came across some in a Welsh field.....
    Sorry,but whatever book you've got,it's incorrect!

    p.s. if you look at the park pic' I've posted,it states quite clearly,1913!

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    Right,wsteve -I hadn`t spotted the photo dating; this is all very odd - my recollection of the monuments and gravestones in the mid50s is strong, I wonder if I had a `time-slip`, similar to those reported in Bold Street; maybe I should have a word with Tom Slemen.....

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    Just a follow-up to the above - it seems a bit hasty of the authorities to clear a cemetery in 1912 which was still accepting burials in 1910. I would still like to know what they do with the monuments etc - including those that were in St James` Cemetery.

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