Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

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Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

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The Ghost of Silverwood

" I don't believe in ghost, but they scare the hell out of me".

Mark Twain American Novelist






Before you read on,  here are a few things to consider before jumping to an hasty conclusion on the subject.

In a recent study in 2003 conducted by the B.B.C. Psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman came to the conclusion "Ghosts are the minds way of interpreting how the body reacts to certain surroundings," Which tells us what most of us knew anyway, that is our mind absorbs the information our senses feed it. Our senses can be fooled of that there is no doubt, and our senses vary with each individual. On his show -Mysterious World , Arthur C. Clarke has speculated that our minds might play images to our eyes (the same way our eyes relay messages to our brain, but in reverse), almost like a movie screen. In this way ghosts would be bits of our imagination come to life.
Mark Twain the American writer once said " I don't believe in ghost, but they scare the hell out of me". So why are most of us scared of something we don't believe in.

Often a common reaction to the subject of ghost is to ridicule the idea of ghost and yet there are many stories like the one below in existence, yes some of them are nothing more than a hoax. A similar occurrence to the three below was reported in the city of York around 1953 when two workmen excavating in a cellar ran out of the cellar and claimed to have seen a Roman Legion marching through the cellar. The men claimed they could only see the ghost from the knees up. Further excavation after this revealed a roman road one foot deeper than the level of the floor the two men had been working in.

 When you look at the religions both ancient and modern throughout the World they are based on the belief of a spirit world so if you are religious then you are accepting the belief in spirits, and yet we deny the existence of ghost. As we know the existence of ghost has not been proven or accepted, but neither as it been disproved. Which means that to believe or disbelieve stories like the one below is entirely up to the individual, but one way or another it does not give us the right to ridicule another's belief or integrity, unless you have absolute evidence to the contrary.

One thing is certain and that is the following story concerns a real legend amongst the miners. Given that miners are [ if you will forgive the pun ] very much down to earth in their attitude toward life and not really open to flights of fancy, then you have to stop and ponder, when you hear that two of them were sent running and screaming from a mine they had worked in for several years.

Over the years I have read many books and articles on the subject of ghost, and the spirit world so I am fairly conversant with the arguments for and against, and from what I have read I have come to the conclusion that the subject is better left to an  open mind. On the story below I would ask  why would a couple of tough stalwart Miners at the risk of ridicule admitted to seeing a Ghost and in the case of one of them quit his job, ---UNLESS ? Well that conclusion  we will leave for you the reader to decide.



John Doxey


The Ghost of Silverwood

First Sighting


When I first started researching Silverwood Pit one of the first items I found was this:-

August 1986 Stephen Dimbleby saw a ghost in a coal mine at the Silverwood Colliery just outside of town I placed the item on the site and so far had not received any further information regarding a Ghost.  Recently [ Dec. 2003 ] I was sent this very interesting email

My name is Jason Shakespeare, I grew up and lived in East Herringthorpe which is just on the doorstep of Dalton, sadly I don't live there anymore because my artwork has taken me to the North East of England
I have always had good memories of playing in the fields and woods around Dalton Brook and I have found the History fascinating on your website and would like to confirm a story we were told when we were small children about the Ghost Miner of Silverwood Pit.

My Uncle Stephen Ball who worked there as a miner told  Family members and us as children that one day while underground he was finishing his shift and was on his way back to the lift which took them to higher ground. When a distant light caught his attention, he shouted toward the light telling them they would have to hurry or they would be left behind. There was no response from the light so with that he made his way towards it just in case it was someone in trouble.

Has he got nearer he saw the faint outline of a man wearing an Helmet and holding a lantern. The figure had his back to my Uncle so he shouted once more "" Hey you're going to be left behind " With this the figure turned to face him. To my Uncles shock the figure was that of a miner wearing old style mining clothing, He looked in shock and froze, gazing at the figure. He then began to notice something about the miners face, there was only half of it there. Suddenly the figure vanished through the mine wall, my Uncle turned and ran, screaming. When he reached the surface he quit his job never going underground again. When the site supervisors asked him to show where he had seen the figure he pointed to a location on the map, confirming his location at the time.

My Uncle later learned that where the figure had vanished through the wall used to be an old tunnel way where an accident had taken place. There had been a cave in and some men and boys had been killed. The Tunnel way had been sealed off because it was considered as highly unstable and dangerous. Stephen Ball said that often workers had talked of the alleged Ghost of the miner, but before the incident he had taken it as plain rubbish !!






I have had the above incident confirmed as happening during the 1950's, also there were other Miners that reported seeing lights that appeared then disappeared in the same location. We may even have had earlier sightings as the legend was already there before the two men on this page had their encounters. Some 30 years after this incident around 1982/3 Stephen Dimbleby claimed he had seen a Ghost. Those that know Stephen say there was a dramatic change in him after, and he had obviously been very scared of what he had seen. Now there is a little coincidence here and that is both men were named Stephen.

An ex Silverwood Miner named John writes to tell us what he knows regarding the ghost story. His account gives us an insight and a broader view of the reaction to the second incident by the miners themselves..
A recent photo in the Rotherham Advertiser showing the coal prep plant brought a lot of memories back and I suddenly realised that what for so many years had been part of the accepted landscape was just gone. I determined to find some photos of the place on the web and your site was the first to pop up.  It took me about 3 minutes to become distracted by the story of the Silverwood Ghost.

A lot of credence was given to the story when it surfaced, so much so that Arthur C Clarke later covered the story on one of his programs. This may have been shown on Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, a 13 part series from Yorkshire Television in England from 1980 on the unexplained and paranormal.

He actually came to Silverwood and told the story to camera with the pit as a backdrop. A lot of fuss was immediately kicked up because the guy who saw the ghost actually ran out of the pit up the main drift passing the paddy mail - no mean feat.
Within days there were reports of mysterious lights that just vanished and stories relating incidents from years ago. Someone worked out that the sighting was above the point of a fatal accident in the Barnsley workings many years ago and suddenly inspections at this level became rather unpopular.
Of course Maltby had a ghost too and their craftsmen would only visit certain areas in pairs. PAH! not so our lads, despite the occasional practical joke.
Unfortunately I understand that the truth is rather sadder than this.  The guy who saw the ghost called in late one night to say he had had a premonition that there would be an accident. He was so persistent that eventually the managers were called back to be on site ready. Of course nothing happened, which did little for his credibility. He apparently made further reports of seeing things down the mine none of which were believed.





By Bruce Wilson


Foreword by John Doxey

Now you may have already jumped to a conclusion  regarding the ghost as non existent. Well hold on to your seats because what follows is a written account from a man who did not run from the mine, he tried to place a logical reason to explain his encounter with the ghost of Silverwood. As you will observe from other pages on this site Bruce Wilson is as solid a witness as you will get, he wrote down the history of the pit, he explored the mine, his 1984/5strike memoirs have been published by a local Author. In short a clear minded logical thinker. What Bruce describes here adds credibility to the experiences of Stephen Dimbleby and Stephen Ball. The following is placed here exactly as written in the diary of Bruce Wilson.







Then there was the time when a miners worst nightmare happened, I was inbye about 3/4 mile, on my own. The Loco ran out of air, there was none in the emergency reservoir so I couldn't bump start it. There was only me down there and only one way out. I set off walking, after a few hundred yards for some reason I looked behind me, there was someone following me out. I could see their cap lamp bobbing up and down as they were walking, but how? There was only stoppings and heading down there!

I carried on walking a little I looked behind me again, there it was getting closer, then my big bulb went out, and I put my little dimmed bulb on. I couldn't run, couldn't see anything, I went out looking at and following the loco rails.

I turned round again trying to weigh the situation up, logically the reflective signs lit up as the light in the near distance passed them. It couldn't be me, my main lamp had failed.

That 3/4 mile seemed to last forever, the last twenty yards I ran, the roadway was lit up and a mail station there with men. I went up to Barry [ real name Tommy ] Lynch and said " Don't laugh" , told him the story and him and somebody else went round the corner and looked down the roadway - There's nothing there-

I never ever went down our district on my own again.

A very unnerving experience, The Pit Ghost or somebody that walked through walls ?

Copyright Bruce Wilson.

Bruce had the presence of mind to wait at the mail station until the end of the shift to see if anyone emerged from the roadway, no one did, leaving him in no doubt that this was no prank.





To add more interest to this story we have to go back to 28th of February 1857.LUNDHILL COLLIERY, BARNSLEY, where 200 men and boys were killed in a gas explosion. Is it this incident that started the haunting stories of the ghost of  miners which have been reported in several of the pits surrounding the area in the last century. .

Miners like all workmen love a joke and playing practical jokes, although at the time they may have been dismissed by all concerned as a joke, our subconscious does not dismiss things so lightly, as shown by the nervousness of the men asked to work in these locations. 
As John points out the story of what happened to Stephen Dimbleby is very sad, and the reaction from his workmates is a common reaction to incidents of this nature. However it is a fact that in cases that are not hoaxes the people who claim to have seen ghost are mainly honest people who genuinely believe in what occurred,  I have no doubt from what I have read, that the two Stephens and Bruce are genuine in the belief of what they saw.

Perhaps the most persuasive report is that of Bruce Wilson who did not panic and tried to logically reason what he was seeing, yes he was frightened by it who wouldn't be? He added as an afterthought that he never knew what the other miners thought of his story. The only comment from those men being that others had also reported seeing strange unexplained lights. A very valid point here from the report of Bruce is that he did not write about seeing a figure, only the light from a Cap Lamp. If you are in darkness and someone walks towards you with a lamp on, the only thing you will see is that light, and nothing behind the light. To see behind the light you would have to have a stronger light shining back. Bruce did not have a stronger light! His imagination did not run riot with visions, he only wrote about what he had seen. He used the wording I looked behind me, there was someone following me out. I could see their cap lamp bobbing up and down as they were walking, but how.

So we are left to ponder:-

Just how many other miners witnessed lights or apparitions?

How many of them kept quiet about what they saw ?

Why would so many have witnessed similar occurrences?

Do we accept incredible theories as those of Arthur C. Clarke who has speculated that our minds might play images to our eyes (the same way our eyes relay messages to our brain, but in reverse), almost like a movie screen. In this way ghosts would be bits of our imagination come to life.

Or do we simply accept  that there are Ghost.

Knowing that scientist have still not unlocked all the secrets of the human brain, nature, or indeed life itself. I myself do not feel I am any where near qualified to explain it, and if scientist can only hazard educated guesses as above, well as Eric Morecambe used to say


 "There's no answer to that"

 Šopyright John Doxey





For those of you interested in ghost some local sites of alleged haunting's are Conisbrough Castle, Elton House Bramley, and at nearby Greasebrough where apparently a lady in white dashes across the road in front of passing cars.

Nearby in Ravenfield there is of course the legend of the Cavalier who appears around Ravenfield Park, and I am informed that is why Ravenfield has a pub named the Cavalier.
Darren Shannon  I'm researching The Earl Of Stafford pub. I currently work in a pub in Thornaby, Middlesbrough called The Roundel. My boss recently done relief at this pub whilst the current manger went on Holiday. She found it very scary and we are all interested in the stories she got told.
1 - a black dog walks through the Bar. (seen with own eyes! my boss)
2 - a woman hung herself from the bannister and the marks are still there were the rope burnt the wood. no matter how much you paint over it or sand it down it re- appears
3 - tables and chairs get re-arranged during the night.
4 - toilets flush when there is no one in them.
All these were shown and heard or seen. there is a myth that when Thomas Wentworth got beheaded, his wife stole his head to bury it in good Yorkshire soil. (Mary III)




I would like to know of any more incidents regarding the Ghost or Ghost's of Silverwood so please send them along if you know of any.

John Doxey

Tales from the Mine Page 1 Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 2 Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 3 Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 3a Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 4 Fred Spencer

Tales from the Mine Page 5 John Doxey

Tales from the Mine Page 7 Geoff Walker









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