WELCOME to Haunted Wirral, a feature series written by world famous psychic researcher, Tom Slemen for the Globe.

In this latest tale, Tom explores the time when Spring-Heeled Jack visited Birkenhead...

One windy night about 10pm in the October of 1887, three sisters – all in their twenties - were sitting in the drawing room of their Oxton home, engaged in embroidery and small talk, when they heard screams from the hallway.

A young terror-stricken maidservant burst into the room, minus her hat, with her roughed-up hair hanging over her scratched face and her uniform in disarray.

Speechless with panic, the maid dashed across the room and hid behind the drapes as the sisters stared at the open doorway in dread.

The tall figure of a very strange man appeared in the doorframe.

He wore a bullet-shaped helmet, a long ankle-length opera cape and his eyes burned with an orange glow.

One of the sisters fainted, while another one joined the quivering maid behind the curtains, and the remaining lady screamed for help.

The intruder was Spring-Heeled Jack, a terrifying figure who had been seen all over the country and recently he had been terrorising the north-west of England.

He had superhuman powers that enabled him to jump clean over rooftops in a single bound, and could blind people by spitting blue fire in their face.

Some said he was the Devil himself, others thought he was a demon on the loose from Hell.

A police whistle screamed in the street outside, and Jack reacted by grunting something, then sweeping every ornament off the mantelpiece with a claw-like hand.

He toppled a grandfather clock, then lurched towards the young women with an evil grin.

The brave lady standing in his way clubbed him with a solid silver candlestick, but unhurt, he threw her aside before tearing down the drapes to reveal the trembling lady and maid cowering there.

The “Leaping Terror” – another of his monikers in the press - opened the window, and jumped into the night, sailing like some giant bird to the roof of a lodge with his cloak trailing him in the moonlight.

Policemen with baton sticks raced after him, but he evaded the long arm of the law again, leaping away in incredible 25-foot bounds as his maniacal laughter echoed across Oxton.

From there, Spring-Heeled Jack headed south, through Cheshire, following the curvature of the Mersey shore, until he reached Runcorn, where he caused a stir among the townsfolk, singing from the rooftops one evening during a full moon.

A child was snatched on that occasion some said, and had to be rescued from a chimney stack.

Liverpool, our Celtic melting pot of superstition, was visited next by the Victorian bogeyman, who, if the consistent descriptions are to be believed - was a cross between Batman and the Joker.

He went on a trek of terror across the country, and most books on folklore state that by 1904 the gravity-defying devil had vanished into obscurity – but I have found many reports of Jumping Jack – some of them occurring in the 1970s, and they include appearances in Wirral.

Here’s just one of them.

His silhouette was glimpsed against the rooftop skyline of Birkenhead in January 1971, and Tony, a policeman I once interviewed on a radio programme, told me how he had dismissed the reports as some ghost story that had got out of hand – till he saw Jack with his own eyes one foggy night near the main lodge of Birkenhead Park.

The January fog was that thick, Tony could not see beyond twelve feet, and at 11.15pm he heard a woman screaming on Park Road North.

Tony ran to the woman’s aid and it transpired she was a prostitute named Betty who said she had been attacked by a man in a cloak with ‘a face like the Devil.’ He had tried to force her to the ground, and Betty had punched him.

The weirdly attired assailant clawed at her face and neck – and Betty did indeed have deep scratch-marks on her face, neck and bosom.

Then came the unbelievable part: Betty said the man had jumped high into the air as she screamed – and did not come down again out of the fog.

‘Get off the streets,’ Tony advised the streetwalker, and then he heard hysterical laughter near the arched entrance to the park.

Betty ran off in terror but Tony went to the source of the laughter – and there was a man, exactly like the attacker Betty had described, only he was surrounded by a scarlet aura of light.

His face looked very sinister, he stood there in a long cloak with his clawed hands crossed on his chest.

His eyes glowed orange, and his ears were enormous and pointed.

Unsure what to do, Tony said, ‘What are you playing at?’ And immediately the figure flew upwards and was lost in the fog for a moment – and then the policeman saw the silhouetted figure of the cloaked man land on top of the 125-foot-high entrance lodge of the park.

He shouted something, shrieked with laughter, then again leaped upwards – and did not come down again.

Tony eventually told an older colleague about the encounter, and this policeman said, ‘What you’ve described sounds like Spring-Heeled Jack. My father used to talk about him.

Don’t tell anyone you’ve seen him or they’ll be carting you away, son.’

Tony mentioned the weird rumours circulating in Claughton about the Devil jumping up to windows and looking in at people, but still he was advised to say nothing about the incident at Birkenhead Park.

Over the forthcoming weeks Tom will tell you more tales of the mysterious and the uncanny in the Globe.

Haunted Liverpool 28 is another dazzling collection of supernatural fact by Tom Slemen, England’s greatest writer on the paranormal.