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31 Days of Hallowe’en Tales: Day 26 – The Spirits of Skippool Creek

A fascinating history of international trade, shifty smugglers and witches resides on the silty banks of Skippool Creek. We find out more on the 26th day of Halloween Tales.

Today Skippool Creek is favoured by dog-walkers and families wishing to stroll beside the Wyre Estuary and enjoy the peace and quiet. However, clues to its intriguing history lie all around it, in the mud-choked graveyard of rotting ships and rickety wooden jetties. Some of these decayed vessels date as far back as 1835, recalling a once illustrious life on the open sea.

Believed to be blending of the Old Norse word skip, which means ship, and the Old English pull/pol, for a slow-moving stream, Skippool has been recorded on historical maps over the years as Skippon, Skiffe-Pool and Skip Pool.

An offshoot of the Main Dyke, which feeds water into the River Wyre, the creek has shrunk over the years, swallowed by silt. These historic docks were once home to a bustling international port dealing with trade all over the world. They dealt in timber from North America, flax from the Baltic and tallow from Russia. Although there are no overt records, it is also highly probable that those involved with the most despicable trade on earth, that of subjugated, stolen and enslaved peoples, would have certainly moved through here too.

Skippool Creek along with Wardleys Creek, just across the water at Hambleton, would have been chaotic, unruly and sometimes dangerous places to be. Ruthless prospectors, shifty smugglers and naval press gangs all operated in the area. It was rife with cockfights, alehouses, counterfeit spirits and prostitution.

God blesse me from all witches, I am afrayd of my wife.

There was a bone mill called Silcocks that operated out of Skippool for many years. Animal bones were ground down and mixed with exotic bird guano from Africa to form fertiliser. This building was referred to as the haunted bone mill by 1917, due to a legend that was connected to it. The haunting concerned a worker who hung himself inside the mill and it was said that his ghost haunted the grounds.

Finally, there is mention of a local witch from Skippool Creek which can be found in the Lancashire archives.

“The Information of Dorothie Shawe, wife of Thomas Shawe of Skippoole in the countie of Lancaster Joyner, Taken at Layrbrecke before Richard Burgh esquire one of his majesties Justices of peace within the sayd Countie, the xiith day of December in the third yeare of the Raigne of our most gracious soveraigne lord King Charles, by the grace of God King of greate britaine France and Ireland defender of the faith etc 1627.

“The sayd Dorothie informeth upon her oath that William Wilkinson alias Johnson of Skippoole in the sayd Countie Wright, upon the day before the taking of this her examinacion, called her Witch and Demdyke, and sayd ‘Though arte a witche and Demdyke, God blesse me from all witches, I am afrayd of my wife, children, and goods, and thou shall knowe yt’ and craved the peace of good behaviour against him.”

Read our previous Hallowe’en Tales

Day 1 – The Curse of Carleton Crematorium.
Day 2 – The Witch Ducking Stools of Poulton-Le-Fylde.
Day 3 – The Ghost-Seer of Weeton.
Day 4 – Smuggling, Drowned Nuns and Fallen Acrobats at Raikes Hall

Day 5 – The Hauntings at the Old Coach House
Day 6 – Old Scrat
Day 7 – A Goblin Funeral at Extwistle Hall
Day 8 – The Ghost of Lady Macbeth
Day 9 – The Mermaid & The Sea Serpent of Marton Mere
Day 10 – The Banshee of Poulton
Day 11 – The Possession of the Lancashire Seven
Day 12 – Lady Fleetwood of old Ross Hall
Day 13 – Tales of Boggart House Farm
Day 14 – Miss Bamber of Marton and her Charms
Day 15 – A Severed Head at Mowbreck Hall
Day 16 – Burnley’s Satanic Pigs and the Clogging of Owd Nick
Day 17 – Three Pilling Boggarts
Day 18 – Hall i’ th’Wood
Day 19 – The Skull House, Appley Bridge
Day 20 – The Boggart of Clegg Hall
Day 21 – The Haunted Hall on the Hill
Day 22 – The Wraiths of Wycoller

Day 23 – The Shipwrecks and Hauntings of Bispham Village
Day 24 – All Hallows Church and the Zodiac Portal
Day 25 – The Drowned Villages of the Fylde Coast

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

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
  • 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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