Given that strange noises made by trickling water, distant tunnelling, and other mining operations were habitually heard by miners working in darkness and often alone, it is scarcely surprising that England has numerous haunted mines. One of these was at Whitehaven. The anonymous author of The Unseen World (1847) reports a story told by a miner on his sick bed to his local clergyman about a mine overseer who had been dismissed from his post and replaced by an overseer from Northumberland:

He lived, however, in apparent friendship with him; but, one day, they were both destroyed together by the fire-damp. It was believed in the mine that, preferring revenge to life, the ex-overseer had taken his successor, less acquainted than himself with the localities of the mine, into a place where he knew the fire-damp to exist, and that without a safety-lamp; and had thus contrived his destruction. But ever after that time, in the place where the two men perished, their voices might be heard high in dispute, the Northumbrian burr being distinctly audible, and so also the well-known pronunciation of the treacherous murderer.

William Henderson, retelling this tale in 1866, compares it with one communicated by the Revd Sabine Baring-Gould, who wrote:

I know a man who is haunted by two spectres. He has shaking fits, during which his eyes wander about the room; then he sees the ghosts. He was a miner, and is said to have half-cut through the rope when some men against whom he bore a grudge were going down the pit; the rope broke, and they were dashed to pieces. Their ghosts haunt him night and day, and he can never remain long in one house, or endure to be alone night or day.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008