The small town of Hebburn in the North East of England is home to a location notorious with the locals for two sightings of a ghostly apparition. That location is known as Spuggie’s Bridge.
The bridge spans an old rail track used today by the Tyne and Wear Metro system. It’s located on a road named Lukes Lane linking Hebburn to other areas such as Newcastle and beyond. The origins of the name Spuggie’s Bridge however, are unknown and lost in the mists of time.
Spuggie’s Bridge has a steep incline and descent on both sides which means, due to the blind spot caused, drivers are often oblivious to what may be awaiting them on the other side as they climb the hill on which the bridge is situated. The lack of vision is made worse and more dangerous when approaching the bridge at speed and/or in the dark.
In 1973 a police officer was hurtling along Lukes Lane in a panda car on a late night call. Blue lights illuminated and sirens sounding the police car climbed the steeply rising road reaching the summit of the hill that is Spuggies Bridge. As the car passed the summit, almost lifting off the ground with the combination of speed and the suddenly descending roadway beneath the wheels, the stunned officer spotted a figure of a man in the road before him.
The unfortunate gentleman on the carriageway was dressed in a strange style not in-keeping with the fashions of the day. He wore a long dark coat, white muffler and a bowler hat.
Being a professionally trained driver the officer behind the wheel attempted to avoid hitting the figure but it was too late. He simply couldn’t react in time and the racing police car ran headlong into the man on the road. The pedestrian was struck by the front of the car and continued up and over the top of the speeding vehicle.
The police car came to a screeching halt and the shocked PC got out to search the area for some sign of a crumpled body on the road, on the verge or perhaps thrown into the fields and bushes that lined either side of the road. He searched to no avail – there was no body to be found and not even any obvious damage to the police car – this seemed impossible given the speed at which the collision had happened.
After a thorough search the policeman despite his shock and unease over the evening’s events could do nothing but continue, if somewhat shaken, with his remaining duties that night. After all, he had found no dead or injured victim and with zero damage to his car there appeared to be nothing tangible to report.
It was here that the legend of Spuggie’s Bridge might have ended and never came to light if it were not for a strikingly similar event which happened some years later during the mid 1980s.
This time it was another police car, now carrying two police officers which, as it reached the peak of Spuggie’s bridge late at night hit a man with an identical description to that of the man hit in 1973. As if that wasn’t strange enough the officers would later recount the peculiar man appeared to be somewhat transparent. The results of the incident were also strikingly similar to the previous report with no damage to the car and no body to be discovered anywhere.
It was a mystery why these unnerving events should have happened to police officers and why on this lonely stretch of road. It remained a mystery until the facts of the two similar stories recounted above and told by respected members of the constabulary were printed in local newspapers. That’s when an elderly woman from Hebburn came forward with a tale she felt could explain the spectre’s repeated haunting of an otherwise ordinary piece of highway.
The old lady told of a man killed by a hit-and-run on that very spot of deserted road at night in the 1940s. The culprit was never discovered and the man’s premature death would forever remain unsolved.
So perhaps this unlucky gentleman’s spirit was destined to travel the lonely stretch of road for eternity, or at least until he found the person who caused his sudden and premature demise.
In the following years a number of accidents and near misses have occurred on Spuggie’s Bridge forcing the local council to deploy traffic calming measures. These measures included a redesign of the bridge so that the climb is not so steep and today it can now only be approached from one direction in an attempt to slow down cars on the approach to the bridge and prevent collisions with unseen obstacles on the other side. The road also now boasts much improved street lighting to aid drivers during the hours of darkness.
While the ghostly apparition may not have been reported since the mid 1980s, we can only wonder when the phantom pedestrian in his old fashioned attire will make another terrifying appearance and continue the legend of Spuggie’s Bridge.
© Colin Lawson Books