Our Century

A ghost story for the kids

Horace Horton, Stourbridge

Horace Horton

"He was my dad (recalls Michael Horton of Wollaston, Stourbridge) . He was born in Wrexham because his father was a railway worker but he settled in Weoley Street, Stourbridge. After being invalided out of the RAF, he worked for Gardner's, the gentleman's outfitters in High Street.

"The customers included several celebrities like Cecil Hardwicke, the actor, and Peter Brough, the radio ventriloquist with Archie Andrews. They always said Horace Horton was the smartest-dressed pensioner in Stourbridge.

"He told me how he would take suits out on approval, sometimes to ten or 15 miles away and how sometimes the customer would say, no, and he'd just have to bring them back again.

"I remember the ghost story he used to tell, with a twinkle n his eye, to frighten the grandchildren. Everyone knew it. It was the old story, about Billy Howe who murdered someone at Dursley Hall, way back in the 19th century and became the last man to be left hanging in the old gibbet, near the Stewpony pub.

"Apparently, someone went up to the site of the old gibbet in Gibbet Lane, Wollaston, and said the words, Billy Howe, Billy Howe, Billy Howe, how am ye now?

"The voice of Billy Howe replied and the poor bloke was so frightened he ran all the way back to Stourbridge.

"My dad was a grand old man. He married twice and his first wife, Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis on the day that our present Queen Elizabeth, married Prince Philip in November, 1947."