Pan in Childwall

A recent article of mine in the Merseymart and Star - about the sinister Lily White Boys and their clandestine meetings under a full moon prompted many emails and letters from readers who have also seen strange things in the suburbs, both past and present. Let’s begin in the past. A reader named Terry from Whiston is today a respectable businessman, but back in 1962 he was a small-time 17-year-old thief and tearaway on the run from Borstal. For younger readers: Borstal was a strict juvenile detention centre that was designed to reform ‘hard-knock’ serial male offenders between the ages of 17 and 21. The regime was highly disciplined, and the severity of punishment usually guaranteed that most inmates feared coming back to Borstal. Borstal was abolished in 1982 – although many people believed it was a big mistake. In October 1962, Terry escaped from a Lancashire Borstal and went on the run, covering over ten miles to reach his home in Huyton – but the police were on the lookout for him there, so he borrowed a tent from a friend and, covering it with foliage, he camped in a field near Childwall Valley Road near to the railway embankment. His friends Roy, Billy and Paddy, all aged 16, visited his camouflaged hideaway regularly with food, drink and the odd cigarette. They even supplied him with a portable ‘Murphy’ transistor radio, stolen from an allotment. Terry regaled his friends with his exciting plan to start a new life as a jazz musician in New York under an alias. When the ‘heat died down’ he’d board a liner and cross the Atlantic. The reality was to prove a little different. On the second night in the tent, a chilling October fog enveloped Childwall, and Terry shuddered under his canvas roof, listening to what sounded like weird pipe music. He dared to peep out the tent and saw nothing but a ghostly full moon shining down through the thick night vapours. On the following night, Terry bullied Billy and Paddy into staying with him in the tent, as he was secretly too afraid of being alone in the secluded field. The three lads sat in the tent, and this time there was no fog outside. Owls hooted, and the odd rumble of a train trundling down the tracks to Hunts Cross startled them, but at around 1am, the strange pipe music floated in the air again, and the three teenagers froze in fear. ‘It’s coming from that way, by Jackson’s Pond,’ said Paddy, reckoned. Terry said, ‘Be quiet.’
Billy opened the flap in the tent and looked out. What he saw would send him running all the way home to Hartsborne Avenue. A strange creature was walking across the field in the moonlight. It looked just like Pan, the old God of music and mischief. It had curved horns like a ram, hairy cloven legs from the knees down, and it was playing reed flutes. Billy yelped, and ran off. Paddy did the same when he saw the sinister creature, and it ran after him, screaming with laughter. It chased him as far as the edge of the field, but he ran non stop until he reached his home on Chelwood Avenue, close to Childwall Valley High School. Terry saw the horned monster turn around and head in his direction, and so he ran to Barnham Drive, where he was unfortunate enough to be collared by a policeman on his night-beat. Terry told the policeman about “Pan” and the bobby remarked, ‘Been on the purple hearts have you?’
Months later, the frightening faun-like creature was allegedly seen in the area again, on the eve of the Childwall Valley Road Murder, in which a 12-year-old schoolgirl was brutally killed, and on this occasion, three adults walking up Origen Road at 11pm saw the cloven-footed figure in the middle of the Boys Club Playing Field. The witnesses watched in disbelief as the horned man ran off into the darkness.

Map showing Lesley Hobbs murder in Childwall - near Jackson's Pond

© Tom Slemen 2007.