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In the third instalment of 31 Days of Hallowe’en Tales, sourced from local folklore, we learn about Hugh Dagger, a quiet man with a strange and eerie ability to predict death.

On Friday 18 June 1937 The Fleetwood Chronicle reported a very peculiar article entitled The Ghost-seer of Weeton. The article described the eerie and precise predictions of a local man named Hugh Dagger, specifically those who prophesied the death of two people.

Hugh Dagger himself was a respected, older gentleman of Weeton village, who often drank in the Elizabethan Eagle and Child public house, known today as The Eagle. He was renowned for being a quiet man of very few words, saying little more than ‘aye’ or ‘no’ to those whom he spoke with. Being a father to 14 children, each day Hugh was content to sit in his usual corner of The Eagle and Child, nursing his pint and savouring the peace. In fact, he was doing just this when he first saw something that would shock the entire village.

Earlier that day, Hugh had been chatting monosyllabically at the bar with an acquaintance, a farmer named Tom Walsh. They talked about the weather, Tom doing most of the talking, Hugh giving his usual scant, one-word answers. However, as Tom finished his pint and got up to leave, Hugh’s face suddenly contorted into a terrible rictus of fear. When the landlord Jim Valentine asked him what was wrong, Hugh told him he had seen a grey apparition come in and “snatch half of o’ Tom Walsh’s yed away”. He swore to the landlord that poor Tom Walsh would be dead by this time tomorrow, and sure enough, he was, to the very minute Hugh predicted.

This was not the only time Hugh would predict death. At the Lytham Agricultural Show, Hugh was horrified to see a skeleton surrounded by white mist following a medlar farmer all around the grounds. Where the farmer went, the skeleton hovered after him. Of course, Hugh was the only person who could see this eerie spectacle and seemingly the only one who understood the portent. Three days later, the medlar farmer was dead.

When The Fleetwood Chronicle interviewed Hugh back in 1937, they asked him if anything strange like the two apparitions had ever happened to him before. To this, he replied, “No, although I do talk to my wife at 4 o’clock every morning, and she died nine years ago”.

Read our previous Hallowe’en Tales
Day 1 – The Curse of Carleton Crematorium.
Day 2 – The Witch Ducking Stools of Poulton-Le-Fylde.

Take a look at Zowie Swan’s debut novel, Chingle Hall here.

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  • Zowie Swan is a local writer of fiction and folklaw. Her debut novel, Chingle Hall, is out now with Safety Pin Publishing. She's also bassist for Blackpool band Dischord.

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