My family and I lived at a haunted property called ‘Gladstone villa’, in the former mining town of Bargoed, originally a village that became a market town that grew vibrantly after the opening of the towns colliery in 1903.
It became part of the Caerphilly county borough of the South Wales valleys, with many of the buildings and stores dating back to over one hundred years.
My maternal grandfather was William George Higgs, known as Bill to his family and friends and he was born in the nearby village of Markham in 1925 when his parents George and Edith moved there with the possibility of finding work.
He came from a working class family but his parents separated some time in 1930 and he had to move to his mothers home, that of North road in Bargoed, he found a job as miner at Bargoed colliery some time in the 1940’s.
It was in the back garden of his mothers home that he met his future wife, my grandmother Rita Cook who lived close by.
She was visiting relatives just next door when they started talking, and they dated for a while before they married in Cardiff in 1949.
They found a house together in Frances street but they had a rent a room down the bottom from the land lady.
My mother Caroline was their only daughter, she was born in May 1950, and it could not have been easy bringing up a baby in one small pokey little room.
Frances street was a rough environment and certainly not the place to bring up a child.
There were often fights in the street from the local drunks on the Friday and Saturday nights and the street certainly lived up to its nick name that it quickly earned, that of ‘Jug and bottle street’ as guaranteed there would be broken bottles and smashed glasses on the doorsteps.
My mother Caroline attended the local school that was just a two minute walk for her, the school was called, ”Bargoed North”.
My family finally got to move away from Frances street in 1960, to a much larger three story property called ‘Gladstone villa, in Cardiff road, my mother was just ten years old and had to walk further to school.
My mother Caroline left school in 1965 and soon got a job at the local bakery in Baldwin street, Bargoed, she was regular day shift.
It was here that she met my father William Douglas Dexter, he came from the local bordering village of Aberbargoed, where he lived with his parents Doris and Roland Dexter and his three younger brothers.
He didn’t like the name of William, much preferring to be called by his middle name Douglas.
He was very much a quiet man, and reserved, he was also a heavy smoker, he worrked regular night shift at the bakery but would often stay behind a little longer to talk with my mother and make her a cup of tea, but he was quite attracted to my mother and he finally plucked up the courage to ask her out for a date.
They dated for three years when they got engaged and they married in Cardiff on the 1st of April, out of all the dates they could have had, they got married on April fools day !, The Beatles were number one in the UK charts with, ”Lady Madonna”, very apt.
They did not get a place of their own, they stayed with my grandparents Rita and Bill at Gladstone villa in Cardiff road.
I was born in the August of 1969 and the youngsters of that time would have been swinging to the latest number one, ”Honky tonk woman”, the rolling stones.
I was soon after I was born that my mother Caroline said that the strange phenomena started.
She said it started off quietly at first with little taps here and there, then it gradually increased.
She told me that the family heard a noise, what sounded like somebody had jumped from the attic and onto the landing floor, naturally thinking that someone was trying to break in, they went to look what was going on, but they found that nobody was there, but the hatch to the attic was open!
What ever it was eventually occupied itself in the main bedroom, which incidentally was my grandparents room, and it soon made its presence felt.
There was footsteps in the bedroom that would regularly occur in the evening when the family would be down stairs watching television, one of them would turn the television down to hear the footsteps more clearly.
There was also some minor poltergeist activity, lights going off and on, electrical cables being pulled.
One day my mother said that she checked my cot only to find that the pillow had been torn right in half, it was good that I was not in the cot at the time.
Another time, my family came back to Gladstone villa from a day out, they saw that the furniture had been turned upside down, there was no break in, no forced entries and nothing was missing, typical poltergeist activity !
There was another example of poltergeist activity when my mother went to get my father up ready for the night shift, when she saw that his bedroom slippers were thrown out onto the landing, a shear sign that he was not welcome in the room, but more was to come.
When she got to the bedroom, she found that the ironing board had been neatly placed over his torso as he slept and when she finally woke him he was astonished to see his situation.
My father was quite suspicious of my grandfather, blaming him for some of the things that were going on, but as time progressed he realized that my grandfather was not responsible for it.
The local police were called to Gladstone villa, two young male offers, they checked around but barely went into the attic, just popped his head through the hatch and shone his torch.
They suggested that it was my father Douglas playing pranks on the family and that it’s not a job for them anyway, but a job for the local vicars.
My parents separated sometime in 1972 when he left Gladstone villa to move back with his parents, but it wasn’t because of what was going on at Gladstone villa, it was just a break down in the marriage, they finally divorced on April 25th 1975, Ironically the Bay City Rollers were number one in the UK charts with ”Bye Bye Baby”, again, very apt.
I was barely three years old when he left and I have no memory of him living there with us, but I was happy that he came to see me every Saturday to take me places like the cinema in Bargoed.
As I got older, I experienced the phenomena for myself, I too witnessed the poltergeist activity, I still remember the electrical cables being pulled by the television, and my grandfather getting angry with it in case there was any damage caused, it would also annoy my grandfather when he played his records on the Sunday and the spirit would sometimes turn it off !
I also heard the footsteps that would walk around the main bedroom every evening, we would look up to the ceiling and my grandfather Bill would point up and say, ”He’s by here, he’s by there now”, trying to make out just exactly where we could hear it.
Mrs Ivy France was a family friend, more of a friend to my grandmother Rita, she was well into her 50’s by the 1970’s and she enjoyed a playing bingo at the local old age hall in Cardiff road, she also liked reading the tea leaves in the cup, but wouldn’t believe my grandmother when she was told that Gladstone villa was haunted.
I can still recall Ivy going into the main bedroom, checking things out, by the window and saying it was vibration from the traffic outside causing it, but her opinion was soon to change when it actually happened when she was there and experienced it for herself.
It was then Ivy France suggested the local press but my grandmother declined for fear of ridicule but when Ivy said she know of a local medium my grandmother accepted.
When the medium John Matthews arrived, he asked the family questions, then he began to challenge the spirit to perform by knocking on the ceiling, and the spirit immediately knocked back at him !
At some point, the medium went into a trance to try and make contact, he failed to get a name but he later told the family that there is indeed a presence there, and it was an earthbound spirit, it had stayed to finish what it hadn’t accomplished it life !
Before the medium left, he went up stairs to put some white powder on the floor, and sealed the bedroom door until the following day, nobody could get in.
When John Matthews the medium returned the next day, he and the family checked that bedroom and found footprints on the floor !
There were some unexplained signs on the wall, in the bedroom, like it was trying to make contact, but nothing came of this.
A priest by the name of Graham Jones also came to Gladstone villa, he blessed the property and after a few prayers and duly left, but not before telling the family to watch over and protect me.
It was quiet for a few short months after that, but in time it did return, with a vengeance, and this time, it decided to show itself !
There was an evening when my mother, my grandfather and I were watching television, my grandmother Rita was reading a book on the sofa, when my mother just so happened to look to her left towards my grandmother, and she saw the full figure of a monk, standing completely still behind the sofa that my grandmother was on, the rest of us didn’t see this sight as we were other wise preoccupied.
She later described to us what she saw in detail, a figure in typical monks garb, a brown habit with hood over the head, so she didn’t see his face, she said it was there for only a moment as when she looked again it was gone, my mother said she was amazed she didn’t react in fear !, my grandmother could only say that she didn’t tell us when it was actually there, it would’ve most certainly frightened us.
Another sighting took place during the day time, as with the footsteps on occasion.
My mother went over to the sofa to get something, she just looked to her left to the hallway, the door was wide open so she had a good view, and I saw the look of confusion on her face, she later told me she saw the face of an elderly man with a shock of white curly hair looking into the front room, from the hallway that lead up to the stairs, I didn’t see this as I was behind the door that obscured the hallway.
The activity was so bad that we slept down stairs on sofa’s, with the lights on all night, it was only my grandfather Bill who was supposedly brave enough to sleep in that room.
There was a night he claimed he was in that room, lying on the bed , he heard a creaking of the floorboard by the door and he was paralyzed, he couldn’t even call out to us to help him, this must have been a frightening experience for him.
I also had a scary experience of my own in there of my own one night.
I was alone in that very bedroom, the light was on, I was lying on the bed facing the window that overlooked Cardiff road, to the South of Bargoed town centre, it was very quiet apart from some cars that passed by, when all of a sudden, I felt something jump at on the bottom of the bed, like an animal pouncing on it, I heard the spring going, I was too scared to look straight away but when I did, I saw nothing there !
I went down stairs to tell my mother Caroline and my grandparents Bill and Rita what had happened, we went back up stairs, when we got to the room, we saw three distinctive paw marks on the bed, we didn’t see the fourth one.
Fred Davies was a friend of my grandfather, he was quite a slim man who like to make his own cigarettes that he kept in his mouth as he spoke, he liked wearing a flat cap and he wore glasses.
He worked at Bargoed colliery with my grandfather Bill and he would visit most evenings and he would sit in his usual place, on the chair by the open fire.
There was an incident that happened during the day, Fred came to see us that day and I was playing quite happily by the side board, it was quiet but then all of a sudden there was one loud bang, like somebody had a big trunk and had dropped it on the floor, it was so loud that Fred ducked his head and I just ran to my mother so she could console me.
Later Fred told us he ducked his head as he thought it was going to come right through the ceiling.
When it was all quiet, and we thought it was safe to go upstairs, we went up to see what had happened, my grandfather Bill would always be first to go up, and I would be last, when we got there we could find nothing that could account for that loud bang.
Fred Davies told us of another experience he had.
My grandfather Bill always liked looking out the landing window and this time Fred joined him, and he said he felt something brush pass him, when he looked, there was nothing there.
We had the ghost for so long that it became part of the furniture, my grandmother Rita even gave it a pet name, she called him Johnny as an amusement, my grandfather Bill would shout that name out the provoke a reaction, but nothing happened.
Another time, my grandfather Bill came down stairs with a broken bottle, he said it was thrown across the room towards him, just missing him, I didn’t witness this but I’m inclined to believe him !
Both my mother Caroline and my grandfather Bill claimed that they heard a baby crying in that particular room, but as I didn’t hear anything I took very little notice of them at that time !
We left Gladstone villa in the Summer of 1978, when two local business men John and Aldo Ricci bought the property, and in time Gladstone villa was converted into a hotel during the early 1980’s.
The night before we moved, all our belongings were packed in black plastic bags and boxes , my mother helped my grandfather Bill with a box, they struggled to get it out of the bedroom and downstairs, when my mother asked him what was in the box, he said it was his dog Tovy ! a black Labrador that died before I was born, he just simply couldn’t bare to bury his remains, just kept him in the box under the bed.
This explains the experience I had alone in the bedroom, when I felt a pounce on the bottom of the bed.
Gladstone villa’s name was changed to Redz Parc hotel, under the management of the McBurney family.
I had my 40th birthday there in August 1969, and it was the staff who told me of their own experiences, the footsteps, the odd sighting, though this was very rare indeed , and the lights going off and on, people who have stayed there have also said they heard things, particularly in room five.
I did some research into the history of my childhood home and Cardiff road, and I was surprised by what I discovered from local newspaper archives and maps at Bargoed library.
I found out that Gladstone villa dates back to the 1900’s, and it was named after the former liberal prime minister William Gladstone.
In 1924, the newly married Kimmiett family lived there, their baby son Elvin Rowland Kimmiett died there at just four months, according to South Wales echo archives of that year, this explains the baby my mother and grandfather said they heard.
Directly opposite Gladstone villa is a building called ”The RAFA club”, one of the oldest buildings in Bargoed, dating back to the 17th century, some of the original beams are still there.
Its been said that a priest hide is on the premises, and tunnels are there that lead up to two local villages, where there is well known welsh manor and a Roman fort.
It is also said that there are the remains of an old monastery in Baldwin street , where my parents met and worked, this explains the monk my mother saw.
What I have said here is the truth, I wouldn’t gain anything by lying, I would only loose my credibility and my integrity and the trust of my personal friends, I wouldn’t share this if I couldn’t possibly back this up.
I challenge any skeptic to stay there for a while, they will indeed experience some thing that will make them question their belief system, of that I have no shadow of doubt.