Where the supernatural rule and strange things happen.
From early times the River Dee has been a major trade route. The Roman garrison at Chester was supplied by seagoing vessels. Ships carrying goods from Ireland, Spain and Germany used the Dee Estuary to shelter from unfavourable winds. During the Industrial Revolution traffic along the river increased dramatically. In 1737 a new channel was cut to improve navigation and in 1777 a lighthouse was built at the Point of Ayr to guide ships into the estuary. Situated on the most northerly point of the Welsh mainland, Point of Ayr was the earliest lighthouse to be built in Wales. Records show that Edward Price, the first lighthouse keeper, was paid an annual salary of sixteen guineas for his duties.
The original lighthouse fell into the sea and was replaced in 1819 by the structure that stands, like a sentinel, on Talacre Beach today. It no longer operates as a lighthouse and the lamp has not been lit for over 160 years. The tower that rises out of the sand is 18 metres (58 feet) tall and, when it operated, the light could be seen from 19 miles away. Census records show that many of the keepers lived in the lighthouse with their wives and children. In 1841, the keeper, Samuel Brooks, his wife and three children lived there, together with keeper Richard Hughes. At the time of the next census in 1851, ten years later, both men were still stationed at the Point of Ayr lighthouse.
Other lighthouse keepers at Talacre were single men and, for them, the life of a keeper could a lonely one. In 1844, while Samuel Brook was the keeper, a new lighthouse, built offshore on piles sunk into the seabed, replaced the Talacre Beech lighthouse making it redundant. Not long after it was closed, strange things began to happen. Visitors to the beach would report seeing a man dressed in a frock coat cleaning the lighthouse lantern. But, when the lighthouse was searched no one was there and the door leading to the tower was secured with stout chains and padlocks. There were more sightings of the ghostly lighthouse keeper. People who approached the lighthouse complained of feeling ill and uneasy as if an evil spirit was watching them. Whole families were struck down with sickness. Dogs walking with their owners ran away and cowered, refusing to approach the lighthouse.
As the paranormal reputation of Talacre lighthouse spread, ghost hunters arrived to search for phantom spirits. Some said the ghost of a long dead lighthouse keeper, unable to light the lamp to warn passing ships, kept a lonely vigil at the top of the tower. Others, more sceptical, scoffed at such nonsense and said the apparitions were a reflection through the lens and nothing more than a trick of the light.
During the Second World War, Talacre lighthouse was used as an observation post and reports of the ghostly keeper stopped. But, at the end of the war, with the lookout post no longer needed, the lighthouse was abandoned and sealed once more. Not long after, sightings began again of a strange man, dressed in old fashioned clothes, at the top of the lighthouse. A couple on holiday watched the man for some time. A family from Hereford started to take photographs by the lighthouse and started to feel unwell. Four of their five children became ill with a fever. In 1966 Jeffrey Moses tried to buy the lighthouse. He had spent many summer holidays at Talacre as a boy and fallen in love with the place. Immediately after he made an offer to purchase the tower he fell ill and died a short while later. He was an apparently healthy 38 years old.
On the 22nd April 2006 a team of eight paranormal investigators, using modern techniques, examined Talacre lighthouse, searching for evidence that would explain the sightings. They set up night vision cameras on every floor and placed motion sensors, sound detectors, electromagnetic sensors and digital cameras throughout the lighthouse. During the night they heard strange sounds and their monitors went crazy. While this was going on, Mary White, a respected medium, was conducting a séance during which she made contact with four spirits. One of the spirits told her he was Raymond, a lighthouse keeper who had died of fever, possibly typhoid, and a broken heart.
One medium claimed that the spirit of one of the lighthouse keepers has returned to his duties and that his name is either Daniel or Samuel. No record exists of a keeper at Talacre named Daniel. Has the ghost of Samuel Brooks, the lighthouse keeper who lived there with his wife until 1844, come back? We can speculate but no one really knows.
Today, if you visit Talacre beach and look up at the lighthouse you will see the figure of a man near the lantern but it isn’t the ghost of the lighthouse keeper, Raymond or any other spectre. The seven foot tall figure is a sculpture, named ‘The Keeper’ that was placed on the balcony of the lighthouse in 2010. Said to represent the ghost, the artwork is made of 120 pieces of stainless steel designed to let the wind blow through it and, according to the artist, make an unsettling moaning noise. It looks more like C3P0 but as they say, 'That's art for you.'
Latest news: I've just been told the sculpture has recently been removed. Can someone give me an update?
"Yes it has been move to the Bettisfield Colliery Site in Bagillt - at the moment it is in the window of the old buildings, watching you as you come under the railway tunnel to the yard, the building is part of the scrap yard. There is a locally made dragon beacon on the high point which is lit on special occasions it is a nice walking area and a great view of the Dee Estuary."