Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Murders and Ghosts of Olde Weston with Weston Walks

We met under the granite arch on Weston's sea front on an evening well suited to tales of mysterious deaths and long-forgotten murders. The wind was high and so was the tide as it lashed over the sea wall, the spray from it wetting our faces just enough to taste our seaside town, the grey sky accentuating its many colours of brown and grey.

Those of us on tonight's tour of Weston's murky past had our own local ghost stories to tell - mine of a woman who used to visit me in South Road while I tried to sleep, a woman who nobody had told me about, although they all knew. Mike, our guide, invited conversation as we pushed along the front to Knightstone Island.

And so the stories begin. Tales of dead brides in baths, Jack the Ripper suspects, sororicide, butchered butchers, love turned sour, policemen who perished. Accounts of bigamists, cads, thugs, the mentality unstable, the infuriating and the innocents. The perpetrators hung, transported, locked up, acquitted and disappeared.

Mike is a natural story teller, who elicits sympathy for some of his subjects and mistrust of others. He puts the points across and asks tricky questions, "Do you think she killed him?" He describes vividly the characters and the setting (many of the stories are, understandably, from the Victorian era, Weston being a town of little over 100 people at the turn of the Nineteenth Century).

The Weston Walks' Murders and Ghosts tour takes the party up to higher ground, so be prepared to hill-walk a little. I know this town very well but walking around the Shubbery and the areas above Grove Park with a knowledgeable and entertaining guide made me see my home in a different light. I communicated with the topography of Weston and with people I shall never know.

Future visits to some of these crime scenes will get me thinking of Weston's long departed over and again. And I will always wonder whether that stolen cheese was really worth it? But that's a story that Mike should tell you ...

Murders and Ghosts of Olde Weston takes place at 7:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday evening and cost £4 for adults and £3 for children. Booking is essential. Weston Walks also does daily Seaside Strolls, where history and entertainment combine. For more details, see

Written by Becky Condron

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