From a rhyme that will raise the dead, to photos of monster rats, urban legends come in many forms.
Some have been with us for generations, stories passed down from parents to children, other arrive by email or in a Facebook post. These days, myths can spread faster than ever before because of social media and the internet.
Whatever their origins, however, they are all designed to scare the living daylights out of us. Here are 10 of the most chilling from northern Lincolnshire.
1 The Black Lady of Bradley Woods
“Black Lady, Black Lady, I’ve stolen your baby.”
If you chant this chilling rhyme three times in Bradley Woods on Christmas Eve, a ghostly woman will appear.
The Black Lady of Bradley Woods may well be Grimsby’s most famous urban legend and has been scaring children for generations.
Depending on who is telling the story, the spirit is either the ghost of a nun – a priory once stood nearby – or a widow who lost her husband and young son during the Wars of the Roses.
According to the legend, the heartbroken widow wanders the woods and, if anyone should be brave enough to chant her name, she will return to take back her baby boy.
2 The Wonderland Ghost Train Ghost
This story dates back to the 1980s when staff at Wonderland in Cleethorpes reported seeing the ghost of an old man who would disappear into thin air. Some said they heard their names being called.
As with many urban legends, a deeper layer was then added: a man had hanged themselves in the old ghost train and his phantom was now haunting the spot.
The chilling tale may well have been told to warn youngsters off sneaking into the site without permission. Whether the ghost has survived its closure is unknown.
3 Monster rats
Facebook was sent into meltdown back in 2015 when a terrifying picture emerged of a gigantic rat “found on Grimsby docks”.
The image, which was shared thousands of times, showed a man in a high-vis jacket holding the massive rodent up by the neck to the camera, along with the caption: “Afternoon everybody, found this on Grimsby Docks.”
However, it later emerged that the picture was not taken in Grimsby at all but had been published in a German newspaper, Das Bild. The size of the rat had been exaggerated because of the perspective of the image.
So, another urban legend then, or is it? In 2016, another scary image emerged, this one apparently genuine, of a two-foot “super rat” discovered at a home in Grimsby. Sweet dreams, everybody.
4 The Irby Boggle
Look out if you’re in Irby the day after Halloween (November 1). A story has long been told of a bride-to-be who disappeared with her fiancé in Irby Dales Wood on the eve of her wedding. Her family were convinced he had murdered her and warned that she would haunt the spot for the next 500 years.
On All Saints Day, her ghost – or boggle – appears atop Skell Hill, looking for revenge.
5 Supermarket child snatchers
A chilling story spread around Scunthorpe in 2008 when people became convinced that children were being snatched while their parents were looking at items on supermarket shelves.
According to the tale, the child was then found with their abductor in the supermarket toilets. In another version, the child was found with their head shaved.
Fortunately, police were able to dismiss the scare as a hoax after discovering that it had originated in America. By then, the Scunthorpe Telegraph had received several calls from concerned readers.
6 Weelsby Street School
Every school has its “haunted classroom” but few have seen an urban legend get quite out of hand as Weelsby Street School.
In 1924, eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a ghost at the New Clee school, while others heard moaning from the school grounds and bell tower.
Wild rumours spread like wildfire. A “figure in white” had been seen gliding around the boys’ playground, mysterious blue lights were floating from room to room, a headless body of a child had been found under a classroom floor and an unknown man had been found hanging in the belfry.
Children were left in a panic, too scared to attend, and police had to hold back a crowd of up to 2,000 people who turned up to hunt the ghost.
7 The Strawberry Quick drugs scare
Another urban myth that reemerges from time to time plays on parents’ understandable fears for their kids.
In 2008, a story spread around Lincolnshire that a dangerous new drug called “Strawberry Quick”, which looked and smelled like a strawberry sweet, was being handed out to children in school playgrounds.
Again, police discovered it was a hoax originating in the United States.
A spokesman said at the time: “”We have long advised parents and school teachers to instruct children not to accept sweets from strangers and such advice is still relevant but there is no truth in the rumours surrounding the use and supply of any such drug within Lincolnshire.”
The internet and social media has helped legends like this quickly go viral. Around the same time, Humberside Police were forced to dismiss a story that burglars were posing as perfume sellers and knocking their victims unconscious with samples of their scent.
8 The nurse of Scunthorpe General Hospital
Perhaps not so much a chilling legend as a reassuring one. At Scunthorpe General Hospital, a nurse in long skirts is said to appear when a baby is gravely ill. After her visit, the baby gets better. Staff have described smelling strong violet perfume when the phantom appears.
9 Saved by a black dog
Have you heard the urban legend of the woman who is saved from an attack by guardian angels?
She is walking home alone one night when a strange man blocks her way. She prays for God’s protection, is filled with a sense of calm and walks safely past.
Later, she learns that another woman has been attacked at the same spot and goes to the police station, where she sees the man who blocked her way. He breaks down and admits that he left her alone because she had two men walking on either side of her.
According to author Garth Haslam, of the website anomalyinfo.com, this legend originated in the Scunthorpe area with a much older tale about a large black dog which would appear out of nowhere to walk by the side of women in similar peril. Phantom dogs are often associated with hellhounds and the Devil, but on this occasion the dog is a guardian spirit.
There are many strange tales about Lincolnshire’s old Second World War airfields. RAF Binbrook is said to be haunted by “Clubfoot”, an Australian sergeant who blew himself up while trying to sabotage a Lancaster bomber. He is said to be seen waving wildly on the runway or limping around nearby roads, trying to flag down cars.
But stories of ghosts at Binbrook go back much further than the Second World War. A poltergeist was reported at a nearby farm in 1905. Could there be a chilling connection, or is it just another urban legend?
* Which urban legends and myths have we missed? Tell us your favourite stories and we’ll publish the best online and in the pages of the Telegraph.
Original artice: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/all-about/scunthorpe