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


THERE was an occult renaissance going on in the 1960s throughout the West.

People turned their backs on traditional religions to meddle with witchcraft, séances and the Ouija Board.

Some, of course, turned to drugs such as cannabis and LSD in the hope of transcending everyday consciousness to perhaps facilitate some sort of communion with a suspected cosmic mind.

Others tried meditation to expand their minds.

Wirral was no exception to the occult renaissance movement and had many believers in the long-promised Age of Aquarius.

In August 1967, three ladies in their early 20s named Anna, Karen and Imogen – all university drop-outs – decided they should go and live in a wigwam community of hippies in Wales, but the problem was finding transport.

The trio was originally from Birkenhead but had hitch-hiked to Greasby, where they were shacked up with a 70-year-old hippie named Richard, who cooked for the girls and let them sleep in his huge Emperor size bed (with him in it, of course).

On this thundery August night in 1967, Richard was playing The BeatlesSergeant Pepper album backwards on the record turntable, trying to make sense of the strange "message" the Fab Four had put at the end of the A Day in the Life track.

Imogen, meanwhile, the girl Richard had ordained as a 'genetic witch', was practicing her automatic sketching – and the other two girls were very wary of this talent of Imogen's.

She had sketched a blonde man a month ago without even looking at the paper as she drew him. Then she had told Anna: "This man is besotted with you," and days later a blonde man did indeed start to follow Anna everywhere.

Now Imogen was sketching a dark-haired man in a strange mask. She told Anna: "This man will have his way with you unless you stay in this house.

"If you go on the road he will have you, Anna – you were his lover a long, long time ago. I'm getting the surname Figg." 

Anna swore and countered with: "Burn that drawing! You’re evil! Everything has to be dark with you, never bright." 

"Why have you all got to go to Wales for anyway?" Richard asked, sitting stark naked in a peacock wicker chair. "You have all you could possibly want for fulfilment right here, physically and spiritually." 

"We just want to try something different, Richard," Karen told the old man, "and then we'll be right back here. We could never leave you." 

"But we need transport," Anna added, and she knelt before Richard and he stroked her blonde head and smiled; "And that means you want to borrow the Beetle," he said.

He was referring to his Volkswagen Beetle.

Anna nodded.

The girls set out that night after the thunderstorms had rolled over to Liverpool.

Imogen was the only one of the girls who could drive but her geography was abysmal and Karen had to plot the basic route to Llandeilo (Near Carmarthen) on an old school atlas.

The three girls set out along the Old Greasby Road at 1:30am, and Anna was the first to notice they were being followed - by a figure on horseback. She pointed it out to Karen, who also saw the figure in the moonlight, following the car at a distance of about a hundred yards.

"We should go back," Anna told her friends, "Richard is right; we have everything we need with him." 

"It's probably just someone who digs riding by the light of the moon," reasoned Karen. 

Imogen said: "It's Figg; he wants Anna." 

Karen thought Imogen was joking but she was deadly serious.

Anna became hysterical and yelled: "Turn this car around now! I want to go back to Richard’s place!" 

All of a sudden, that horse broke into a gallop, and Anna could see the sparks produced by the horse’s shoes as it sped along the road.

Anna screamed and Imogen accelerated the car but the horseman easily caught up.

He was all in black except for a pair of light-coloured breeches, and wore a three-pointed tricorn hat – of the type the highwaymen of old often wore.

Anna screamed continually at the sight of the highwayman – and saw he wore the very same type of mask Imogen had drawn in that sinister sketch.

Karen slapped Anna across the face to shut her up.

The great age of the highwaymen stretched about 150 years from the mid-17th Century to early 19th Century, and like the rest of the country, Wirral had its Knights of the High Toby; why, even Dick Turpin visited the peninsula a few times, back in the 1730s.

Imogen felt that the entity following the car was the Mr Figg she had produced with her automatic drawing, and she suddenly had the urge to turn Anna over to him.

She braked the vehicle and despite Karen's pleas for her to drive on and the screaming of Anna, Imogen watched the ghostly highwayman dismount from his black steed in a dramatic leap.

Anna and Karen tried to escape from the vehicle but found their way blocked by the six-foot-tall entity.

The eyes behind his mask burned with a crimson glow as he dragged Anna from the vehicle, forced kisses upon her till she fainted, before carrying her to his horse.

Karen began to strike Imogen, and asked her why she had let the demonic highwayman take Anna away.

"He would have captured her, anyway," said a tearful Imogen, "and he would have killed us to get to her." 

They found the body of Anna the next day in a ditch, lying on her back with her open mouth filled with rainwater and her eyes bulging in terror.

Some said she had a faint silvery phosphorous film all over her body.

The death was deemed to have been natural causes, always a convenient verdict when death comes by supernatural means.

I've been told that the forgotten Highwayman Mr Figg still prowls the night roads between Greasby and Thurstaston ...

*All Tom Slemen’s books and audiobooks are available from Amazon.