HAUNTED WIRRAL: The return of Bidston Hill’s masked bogeyman

I HAVE changed a few names and details in this disturbing story.

A few of the people who are venturing outside during the Covid-19 lockdown have seen a figure on Bidston Hill during their moonlight rambles.

From the descriptions emailed to me, I fear he may be the ghost of a bogeyman who has not been seen since the 1960s.

In March 1965, a pretty young girl of 16, named Betty, received a letter containing money at her Liverpool home.

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It was from Betty’s oldest Aunt, Cecelia, who lived in Bebington, asking Betty if she could stay with her for the day and do a little shopping for her as she recovered from the flu.

The envelope contained one shilling and seven pence wrapped up in a pink sheet of notepaper with the garbled instructions: “With the money buy a 1s 7d combined bus and boat ticket at Woodside and board buses 60 or 64 to Thornton Road.”

Betty did as instructed and at Aunt Betty’s house on Thornton Road met her cousin Kitty, who was also 16.

The girls did some shopping for their auntie and then Betty decided that instead of going home to Liverpool, she’d stay over with her cousin at her home on Bidston Avenue.

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Kitty was into photography and had just bought a 25-shilling Kodak Brownie 127 camera from Timothy Whites with some of her birthday money.

Kitty convinced Betty she was beautiful enough to be a model and persuaded her to be the subject of some snaps on nearby Bidston Hill.

They went to the local chemist to get the photographs developed.

Tim, the young man behind the counter at the pharmacy, smiled at Betty as he took the roll of undeveloped film off her cousin, but the senior chemist – a tall man with a shock of reddish hair who wore thick pebble-lens glasses, snatched the roll off him and asked Kitty what was on the film.

"Just pictures I've taken of my cousin Betty," she replied and nodded to Betty, who was blushing.

The pharmacist gave off an overpowering scent that Kitty instantly recognised – and hated – Rolls aftershave lotion.

The senior chemist leered at Betty and said "I bet you make a pretty picture" in a cold monotone voice. He told Kitty the prints would be ready for collection tomorrow at 2pm.

All the way home, Kitty and Betty talked about the junior pharmacy assistant Tim, and while Kitty maintained he was the double of actor Anthony Perkins, Betty thought he looked like George Harrison and said he had nice hair.

The girls also giggled at that horrible Rolls aftershave Tim’s superior had worn.

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Kitty and Betty returned to the chemist’s the following day for the prints. Again, the older pharmacist smiled at Betty.

Later that day, Kitty said one of the prints featuring Betty was missing.

"Maybe Tim wanted it", Betty joked.

The next morning, the first of many anonymous love letters addressed to Betty arrived at Kitty's home. They gave the impression that the writer was young and hopelessly in love with Betty.

The author said he had recently set eyes upon her in a certain shop and fallen in love at first sight.

The first ended with: "I know it’s silly writing to you. Just had to let you know about my love for you. I'll write soon."

Kitty thought Tim was behind the letters and suggested going to the chemist's to buy more film for the camera, but Betty was too shy to go and see him.

Days later the last letter arrived, promising there'd be no more.

The writer begged Betty to meet him on Bidston Hill at midnight alone on Wednesday, March 17. He would then reveal himself by the old windmill.

He added: "I think you probably know who I am."

Kitty was taken into hospital with appendicitis that day and Betty stayed at her house with her auntie and uncle.

The girl sneaked out of the house on Wednesday night in a dress her uncle had bought her and went up Bidston Hill by the light of a full moon.

She saw no one by the windmill. She went back down the slopes and was approached by a tall man in a weird black mask of leather with two eyeholes.

He had an old-fashioned rifle – and also had a huge knife hanging in a scabbard rigged to his belt.

"If you scream or try to run I'll shoot you," he said, in a monotone voice.

"So just do as I say."

Betty made a whimpering sound as the masked man pushed her down the slopes to a wooden stake surrounded by brushwood.

A long length of plastic washing line was looped about the stake, and the man said: "I'm going to tie you to that stake and then you are going to meet your death by fire."

Betty caught a whiff of that aftershave – the one the spectacled pharmacist had worn – and now she recognised his voice.

As he tied her up, the masked monster seemed to have a seizure and fell on his back, shaking.

Betty ran home in tears.

When police later called at the house of the pharmacist, they found he'd hanged himself.

Not long after that, the ghost of the deranged masked ritualist was seen again on Bidston Hill.

I think that ghost is at large again …

All Tom Slemen’s books are on Amazon

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