9. The Beldray Ghost
Many people talk about the Beldray ghost. But the stories vary. It may be that there was more than one ghost, or one ghost who got about a bit, or maybe ...
I have heard from ladies who worked in Bradley's offices that a ghost was known to haunt the offices, in particular the ladies' lavatory. As a consequence ladies using that facility would never lock the doors in case they need to get out quickly. But two former employees have set down what they know about the apparitions, and here are their stories.
1. George Phillpott's storyI well remember many people at Bradley's. But there was one individual who was NOT on Bradley's payroll, although it seemed he, she or it, was a regular attender. This was Bradley's Ghost.
Now the Company had two excellent bowling greens and two tennis courts. They were on ground situate behind the works and bordered on land beside Peascroft Lane. This sports ground was on two levels, one being some 12 to 14 feet higher than the other. The land between them was planted with various flowering shrubs and bushes and there were two flights of steps connecting the two areas, each with ornamental rails and pillars. On summer nights, the night-shift workers used to take their midnight `snap' overlooking the bowling greens - very pleasant indeed.
Then one night, I think it would be about 1946, the night watchman had a bad shock. Whilst on his rounds he saw someone apparently in white, on one of those flights of steps, but as he approached in the dark to find out what was going on, the 'thing' disappeared, noiselessly, upwards.
Next day, the story was all over the works, (the watchman had had to go home and wouldn't go near that area for quite a while afterwards). The night workers kept a weather eye open during their breaks and after a night or two several of them saw it, after which there were several more sightings. It has to be remembered that the sports grounds were, of course, out of bounds for the work force during the night and, whatever it was that was seen, was in the dark at a distance of up to a hundred yards away.
But you can't keep a thing like that quiet for long and the story spread so much that as soon as it started to get dark, crowds began to gather on the Willenhall Road in the hopes of seeing something. The Express & Star sent a reporter to investigate, but the management were totally dismissive of the whole thing so he mixed with the crowd to see what they could tell him. In answer to a question, somebody told him: "'Taw, e doh 'owl" (No, he doesn't howl). And next evening that was the headline in the Express & Star: "E DOH OWL"!
Obviously, something had to be done about it and eventually four intrepid members of Works Staff decided that they were going to lay the ghost once and for all. Mr. Routley (Galvanising Shop Manager) Mr. Quarterman (Production Engineering Manager) Mr. Lloyd (Steel Buyer) and Mr. Skinner (Finance Department) lay in wait, armed, so we are told ,with a pistol and a bottle of scotch (which in those days was very hard to come by).
Next morning, all was total anticlimax. The ghost had been well and truly laid and had escaped unharmed. It was, in fact, a large white barn owl. He used to stand on one of the pillars on the steps leading down to the bowling greens that made him appear to be disembodied, without legs. Of course, when anyone approached him, there was only one way he was going to go - upwards.
Whether he was ever seen again I don't know, but it was said that there were several of those owls living in the open sided work sheds of the Vinculum Plant on the way into Willenhall.
So, ended the saga of Bradley's Ghost. The management were, it seems, right to be dismissive.
2. Brian Davies' story
People often mention the Beldray ghost. I can confirm that to many people who worked there he was very real; some had seen him and a lot had sensed him. He was said to be the ghost of Hermon Bradley and he lived on the top floor of the building facing Mount Pleasant. But he also wandered around the whole factory.
I remember that, in about 1977, a security officer, patrolling the factory in the middle of the night, saw him emerge out of an old garage. The security officer took off and never came back to work - leaving me, as Personnel Manager, to explain to the Board of Directors that we had no security officer because he had been frightened by a ghost.
I never saw the ghost myself. The building in which he lived was sold off and is now occupied by Wolverhampton City Council's social services department who would, I am sure, be able to deal with his case.