Celebrate the seasonal spirit in New Brighton with The Ghosts of Christmas Past
3 months ago
Merseyside tour guide Tony Franks-Buckley is helping people celebrate the spirit of the festive season with a spooky walking tour of New Brighton.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past takes a special journey around the streets of the area, revisiting tales, legends, and famous folklore about haunting figures on foggy nights, amid fascinating stories of Christmases gone by.
“It’s a trip back in time,” says Tony, “looking at what this time of year was like in Victorian times, how they used to celebrate Christmas and how they prepared for the big day, along with how traditions have changed over time.
“It was very much a family time back then, not so commercial as we see it today, when adults all took time off work and spent time together.”
And he adds: “The Victorian era was a time when people started to venture into spirituality and the world of ghosts … although many of the stories we’ll look at are those from the smugglers who concocted them to keep people away from the coastline in order to move their contraband!”
Tony, 42, is a former civil servant who, during the recession, quit his job to go back to university. For the last 12 years he has been leading people around the New Brighton and Wallasey area and bringing back to life a previously hidden past.
He organises four daytime walks and two evening walks each week through his company, Wallasey – Days Gone By.
“I was an avid reader when I was younger and I loved stories and finding out about what the past was like,” he explains. “Now I’m lucky because I enjoy talking about it and doing what I’m doing.
“As a historian I have written nine books on local history and it’s so interesting. There is a massive and rich area of history in New Brighton and Wallasey, and it’s where I’m from, so I enjoy letting people know what that rich history is. Much of it has been hidden away and not celebrated, so it’s my job to make sure that it is.”
The Ghosts of Christmas Past Walk will look at the ‘haunted’ smugglers’ coastline and cave area ‘where ghostly whispers have been heard’, and where the customs man’s shadowy figure has been spotted carrying his lamp.
Guests will visit the site of a ghastly murder and the old police station ‘still guarded by a spirit who doesn’t like people on the premises’, and learn all about the legend of the Seymour Street spook and the Lighthouse Ghoul.
And they will hear how people in the Victorian age celebrated Christmas in the area: “It was completely different to how it is now, there were no Christmas lights, it was hard times and there was a lot of poverty,” adds Tony, who shows photos of different parts of New Brighton so people can see how it was ‘then’ compared with ‘now’.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past walk finishes in the town’s Victorian Quarter where, Tony smiles, people might want to warm themselves with a nice hot chocolate: “Or perhaps a mulled wine if they want to stay in the festive mood!”