Vikings in Huyton

In November 1965, gales lashed the British Isles, leaving a trail of death and destruction across the nation, and Liverpool, being a port, was blasted from the direction of the Irish Sea.
Vans were overturned on the dock road, and the Canadian Pacific liner, the Empress of England was stormbound at the Gladstone Dock up in Bootle.
All the ferry services were suspended, including, of course, the Isle of Man ferry, because winds of 117 mph were recorded, and all flights out of Speke Airport were cancelled after a plane was blown off the runway.
A whirlwind was witnessed on Lime Street, and it brought down scaffolding, injuring five people, and a plasterer at work on a building on Lime Street was left clinging to a ledge, forty feet in the air, for 10 minutes, until a ladder was brought to him.
A woman with an umbrella was actually picked up by the whirlwind on Church Street, and deposited on the awning roof of C&A.
A meteorological expert from Liverpool University – a professor who studied the world's weather systems – witnessed the woman flying into the air like Mary Poppins, and he said he had never seen anything like it in his life.
There was talk in the papers about the freak weather being the result of someone – possibly the Russians - testing out an H Bomb up by the north pole, because for a fortnight before the hurricanes of 1965, people in Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and other northern towns, had reported seeing a strange green glow in the northern skies at night.
There were even reports in the local press of people in Kensington, Everton, Aintree and Formby being able to read a newspaper by the light of this green glow, and an expert told the press that the glow was not the Northern Lights. So what was it?
When the glow was at its most fierce, something very strange happened in Huyton that has never been explained.
That week in November 1965, a policeman named Steve was on his beat up in Huyton, at around 11pm.
He passed Hambleton Hall on St David’s Road on the borders of Page Moss and Knotty Ash, and being a Saturday night, Hambleton Hall was crawling with teenagers, because it was a venue where groups such as The Beatles, The Searchers and other had played.
I think it later became a Probation Office. Anyway, there was a scream, and this policeman, Steve saw a black man run away from a group of girls. One of the girls said the black man was known only by his nickname, which was Ego, and he had tried to rob her purse.
The teenaged girl also claimed that Ego had “tried it on with her” - so the policeman ran off after him.
Ego ran south, crossing Liverpool Road, down Woolfall Crescent and on to Twig Lane, where Steve, the copper, almost caught up with him at one point, but Ego suddenly outdistanced him and bolted down Rupert Road.
The diligent constable kept up the pursuit, and finally, on Archway Road, by the railway bridge, Ego stopped, exhausted, and leaned against a wall, expecting to be arrested. Steve was also exhausted, and as he came towards Ego, he panted, “Come on lad.”
Ego said: “Officer, I have never been in trouble with the law in my life. That girl asked me for a light, then started screaming.”
The policeman said: “You can tell me all this at the station.”
   All of a sudden, both men noticed a green glow in the sky which lit up the railway bridge, and what they both then witnessed was incredible.
In the green glowing cloud that formed in front of them was the black silhouette of what was obviously a Viking longship, and it came gliding along through the air as crackling bolts of electricity came off it.
The ship was sailing through the road and pavement, and gradually, the shadow lit up in colour so that the two men could see the huge square sail, and about twenty men sitting on the deck, pushing and pulling the long oars.
Ego backed away, because he was the closest to this strange apparition, and all he could say was, “Jesus Christ.”
Seconds later, the Viking ship slowly faded away into nothingness, and the green cloud vanished as well. There was a strong smell of ozone in the air.
Anyway, Ego was taken into custody, and subsequently found to be completely innocent. The girl who had made the accusations was known to a detective at the station as something of an attention seeker who had made similar false claims in the past.
Steve happened to mention the phantom Viking ship to a colleague, and he told someone, and Steve was hauled before his superior, who told him he should go and see a doctor.
When Steve insisted he was telling the truth, and that he had even seen the 20 or so Viking oarsmen on the ship, he was told he would be dismissed on medical grounds unless he stopped mentioning the ridiculous incident.
A detective quizzed the black lad Ego a few days later, and asked him to give an account of that Saturday night when he was chased to Archway Road, and the lad said: “Did the officer tell you about the ship we saw?” And then he gave a blow by blow account of the Viking ship that matched Steve’s story in every detail. The detective still dismissed the whole incident as an optical illusion.
Forty-five years later, Steve contacted me, told me what he and Ego had seen, and I researched the incident.
I discovered that in 1828, navvies working for the  railway engineer George Stephenson, were making excavations for the foundations of the railway bridge on what is now Archway Road, they discovered the remains of a Viking ship.
Archaeologists were baffled as to how a ship, over a thousands years old from Scandinavia, could be found about fifteen feet underground in the middle of Huyton.
The clue was the River Alt, which ran close to the site of the railway. It’s now known that the River Alt was much wider thousands of years ago and a huge lake existed in Huyton, where the Hag Plantation now exists.
Sand has also been found beneath Huyton, proving it was once a landing place for ships in ancient times.
I have also had many other reports about the ghostly Viking ship being seen on Archway Road over the years (one report as recent as June 2012), which seems to indicate that inanimate objects can also have ghosts.

• Haunted Liverpool 26 is out now on Amazon.


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