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Millbank, Uphall, West Lothian. Two Stories

 

These two stories are recollections of stories told to me by one of my Aunts many years ago (the same Aunt from my Dechmont haunting story). She would tell these stories a few times through the years so this retelling is as accurate an account as is possible.

Both these stories take place in the same house also, in Uphall, West Lothian an area known as Millbank. They take place back in the late 50's to early 60's.

There's a burn (stream) which runs through the villages of Uphall and Broxburn, the burn is called The Brox Burn (Brox for those who don't know is a Scots word for Badger). There's an old water mill (now a house) which was used for grinding grain back in the day down by the burn, next to the Mill, crossing the burn, is a bridge known as 'Millers Brig' (for obvious reasons). Situated next to here are the houses of Millbank (I'm sure I don't have to explain why they're called that) and this is where my Aunt, Uncle, and three Cousins lived.

One day my Aunt was out hanging up the washing when she heard a gaggle of voices coming from down at the burn. She made out that they were discussing costs of items and could hear haggling going on. Obviously perplexed as to what was going on she moved forward to look down the steep banking into the burn to see who was making this commotion. She was shocked to see what she described as Market stalls and men in Tricorn hats, long coats and pantaloons walking along a 'sidewalk' built along the side of the burn, running under the Millers brig to the West and following the run of the burn away to the East. There were people selling fruit and vegetables as well as different meats and poultry. There was a flight of stone steps heading from what is now Station Road beside the bridge down to this walkway where the selling was taking place. Women were wearing long flowing dresses and 'bonnets'. She stood watching for around 5-10 minutes until everything just faded away and the scene was back to being overgrown. She never saw anything more of this 'market scene'.

The other story she told of this house was somewhat more sinister.

My Uncle was a long distance lorry driver and so would be away for weeks on end much of the time. My three cousins were, I believe, all under 10.

My Aunt was in her bed one night when she heard footsteps down stairs, she didn't think much of it initially and presumed one of the girls had got up for a drink of water, however it dawned on her that she hadn't heard any movement from their room. The footsteps were heavy and on tiled floors... She didn't have tiled floors down stairs, they'd recently got carpets. She sat listening, now wondering if somehow someone had broken in. The footsteps continued up the stairs now sounding like they were tramping on wooden steps she heard them continue along the hall again, making the sound of walking on wooden floors when the house was fully carpeted, past her room, where they paused momentarily, she could make out a shadow under the door. It was now she wondered if my Uncle had arrived home 'early' and was going to check on the kids before coming to bed. The steps started again and continued down the hall, where she heard the linen cupboard door open and then close and the footsteps stopped.

She got up, expecting to see my Uncle in the girls room checking on them, but upon opening the bedroom door, she found both girls sound asleep and no sign of my Uncle. She checked on my male Cousin, and again found him sound asleep and no sign of my Uncle. She checked down stairs, no sign of forced entry, all windows and doors were soundly locked.

The next day she was speaking to one of her neighbours and happened to mention the events of the previous night. Her neighbour had lived there for some years and was an elderly lady by this point. She told my Aunt that years previously, when she (the neighbour) was just a wee girl the man who lived in that house was accused of mistreating his children, by way of punishing them, he would carry them up stairs to this linen cupboard and lock them in it for hours on end. It then transpired that when this man lived there (that would've been the late 1800's- early 1900's) the flooring was primarily tiling since it was cheap and cheerful, upstairs would've been bare boards. The man in question was a Miner. During the 1860's (through until the 1950's) shale mining was big business in West Lothian (the remnants can still be seen today in the form of shale hills across the region, known as bings) and led to an influx of workers from all over the UK and the Commonwealth, leading to the growth of many of the regions towns, so this would be very much possible for this man to have been a miner, it would also explain the heavy footsteps as he'd have wandered around his home in his heavy work boots.

She heard these footsteps from time to time while living there but had put her mind at ease that this was merely a residual haunting and not something which would be of any threat to the family.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Aliendewd, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Aliendewd (6 stories) (20 posts)
+4
1 week ago (2020-10-22)
Hi Melda.

I would imagine the time period she witnessed would have been 1700's, judging on her description of the dress of those she saw.
I gave perhaps a deeper insight into the history of the Houstoun Estate than was necessary but I felt the general history of the area was of some relevance, but yeah, certainly mid 1700's I would suggest.
Uphall in the 1950's-60's was a quiet village, so I wouldn't imagine many people would have been around the area at the time of her sighting. The area of Millbank is on the extreme West End of the village, beyond these houses is the Golf Course which is in the grounds of the old Houstoun Estate (and surrounds the grounds of Houstoun House itself), beyond that is a series of small holdings and then the village of Dechmont which lies a mile down the road from Uphall.
I would certainly say my Aunt had something, she saw several 'spirits' through her years (I think I touch on one of them in my Dechmont Haunting stories). Indeed many members of my family have experienced 'hauntings'. My Dad who was a Police Officer from the 60's through until the late 80's has experienced many things both while on duty and also in Civilian life, my sister too who oddly wasn't really a believer in paranormal despite what I experienced as a child had her own experiences while working in Milan as a Nanny. My late Mum also saw things particularly while in Dechmont. Various Cousins, Aunts and Uncles too.
The second story there was certainly one which disturbed me, as I touched on in a previous comment particularly with what I experienced in Dechmont as a small boy. The Cupboard thing seems a very common thread through many hauntings, it's that claustrophobia thing really, isn't it? Certainly I can recall my utter fear of the cupboard under the stairs in Dechmont, it was panic I felt. It wasn't helped that this cupboard was directly opposite the Livingroom door, so the thing was unavoidable.
Hearing the footsteps though takes it to another level. I've certainly never experienced a haunting where I hear footsteps, i've verbally interacted with spirits which is a very odd feeling I have to admit, but disembodied footsteps somehow seems far more sinister.
Melda (10 stories) (1324 posts)
+2
1 week ago (2020-10-21)
Aliendewd - What your aunt witnessed as a market place is truly amazing. I wonder what caused that time slip? Do you have an approximate time frame when the marketplace might have been there?

I know in your comment you mentioned the 11th century and then also 1598. I'm thinking of tricorn hats, flowing dresses and bonnets and so on. Your aunt was truly honoured to have been a witness to something so extraordinary!

What about normal everyday inhabitants (in our time frame) who might have been in that location when your aunt witnessed this event. I wonder whether they noticed absolutely nothing and simply proceeded with their everyday activities. What is your take on that?

The second part of your aunt's experience isn't quite as pleasant. It seems she is psychically gifted and could separate a residual occurrence from a real live haunting. That would have scared seven kinds of hell out of most people!

Regards, Melda
Aliendewd (6 stories) (20 posts)
+3
1 week ago (2020-10-20)
History is a passion of mine so when she first told me of the market event (easily 30-35 years ago now) I was absolutely blown away. I knew Uphall had a long history, but I didn't know how long (I now know an inhabited settlement has been there since the 11th Century). It seemed an odd place for a market but there's the nearby Houstoun House (now a McDonald Hotel) which was built in 1598 and has housed Mary Queen of Scots. The Tower House was built by Sir John Shairp and remained in the family until the 1940's.
The Mill would've been part of the old Houstoun Estate which was owned by the Shairp family. The settlement of 'Strathbrock' (meaning valley of the badger) as 'Uphall' was known then was owned by the Douglas family and would've been seen at that point in time as a separate settlement to Houstoun and so would've perhaps had it's own Market place.

The other experience did always disturb me, particularly when compared to my own experiences in Dechmont when I was a wee boy. There certainly seems to be something disturbing about cupboards, even in childrens literature... Harry Potter for example!
Tweed (28 stories) (2319 posts)
+4
2 weeks ago (2020-10-17)
Aliendewd, I love reading your accounts, thanks for sharing these two.

I think your aunt is lucky to have experienced the old market, experiences like that are really special. Wish we knew how/why they occur when they do.

As for the other residual, it's a shame nasty people leave behind vivid recordings. Unfortunately there's a few similar accounts on here describing similar things.

I'd love to have been there when she was hanging out washing though, that sounds amazing.

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