Jean, Joe, Phillip (15) and Diane (12) Pritchard moved into Number 30 East Drive, Pontefract in August 1966. Almost immediately, during the hot summer Bank Holiday, Phillip and his Grandmother first witnessed a baffling phenomenon – a fine layer of chalk like dust falling not from the ceiling, but from a level below head height.
In an effort to clean up before Phillip’s holidaying parents returned, Mrs Kelly (Phillip’s Aunty who had been fetched by her mother to observe the falling dust) went to the kitchen for some cleaning implements, whereupon she slipped on a pool of water that had mysteriously appeared. Her efforts to mop up the water were thwarted by more pools appearing on the linoleum in front of her and Phillip’s very eyes.
This was the beginning of several years of incredible, inexplicable events; green foam appearing from taps and toilet even after the water was turned off, the tea dispenser being activated resulting in all the dried tea cascading onto the work surface, lights being turned off and on, plants leaping out of their pots and landing on the stairs, cupboards shaking violently, photographs being slashed with a sharp knife and an endless list of levitating and thrown objects – including a solid oak sideboard.
Dubbed ‘Mr Nobody’ by the local press in 1968, the family preferred to refer to the poltergeist simply as ‘Fred’, perhaps as a way of normalising ‘It’ as no number of initiatives could persuade the entity to leave the family in peace and house-proud mother Jean refused to be terrorised out of her house by an entity. Exorcisims were met with indignation; walls would seep holy water, faces were slapped, people were shoved down the stairs and ‘Fred’s’ hands would appear from nowhere and conduct the Christian songs aimed at shooing him off – whilst wearing huge women’s fur gloves. In fact, many of Fred’s antics were both amazing and often highly amusing, like when he calmly poured an entire jug of milk he removed from the fridge over a sceptical aunt, leaving the kids in stitches.
Ordinarily poltergeists aren’t known for causing grevious bodily harm, and although Fred caused a few bruises and scrapes and lot of heart stopping scares, in particular to Diane – seemingly the focus of the haunting – it is rare for a poltergeist to become excessively violent and cause physical harm. But in the case of Fred, that indeed became the case. Late on in his residency, when both Phillip and Diane were beginning to exit adolescence, the activity reached a new climactic height with Diane’s long hair suddenly standing on its end, followed by her being dragged kicking and screaming up the stairs, an event that left her seriously traumatised and with clearly visible finger marks on her throat.