Tuesday, February 02, 2010

'The Haunted Bridge'

...No, not something AB came across on the Panama Canal. I’m sneaking in to the blog while he’s away to tell you a little more about my collection of ghost stories set on the Oxford Canal. You may remember AB came to the launch party at Hallowe’en, attended by Colin Dexter (see post of November 3rd).

Here's what I say in the Introduction, to give you a flavour of the book and explain how it came about:

'When I wanted to write a ghost story for a competition, I knew exactly where to set it, - the derelict quarry at Shipton-on-Cherwell, one of the spookiest places I know. They’ve broken my heart by surrounding it with a high fence now, so you can no longer climb the secret staircase beside Baker’s Lock, and you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s as unearthly and magical and extraordinary as I describe. I wanted to share my experience of this wonderful place, before they turn it into a housing estate or an eco-town or fill it with unsold cars, or worse, sanitise it into a visitor attraction with steps and nature trails and barricades to stop you getting too close, like poor old Kirtlington Quarry.

And having written The Death Trap, I kept thinking of more places and events connected with the Oxford Canal which would make the perfect setting for a ghost story, - the ruined manor at Hampton Gay, the deep lock at Somerton, the Shipton Railway Disaster. In fact, I realised, I could write a whole volume of them.

I have loved the Southern Oxford ever since joining my sister Katie and her husband on a cruise from Banbury to Oxford. That was back in the 70s, when the fighter jets still startled one with a sudden deafening roar as they took off from Upper Heyford, and you might still have to operate the old swing railway bridge across the Sheepwash Channel. Katie and Desmond went on to own a pair of hotel boats, and I cadged a trip whenever they had a spare berth. When I married Edwin, I insisted on a canal-based honeymoon, and he became as bitten by the bug as I was. We used to hire from Aynho, and then from College Cruisers, eventually buying one of their boats for our own. Edwin has now converted Worcester to diesel-electric drive, and we can glide through those beautiful wooded cuttings and hear nothing but the birds. In a way these stories are my tribute to the canal.

I should say at once that although the places and historical background are real, none of these are accounts of genuine sightings. I’m sure there must have been a few, in a place so full of history and tragic stories, but I have not come across them.

I’ve arranged the stories in geographical order, as one might travel north along the canal from Oxford. Edwin has drawn you a map, so you can see where each story takes place. Like their surroundings, the stories become increasingly spread out as they leave the bustle of Oxford, finally ending in that remote, bleak area of countryside between Napton and Braunston, a Landscape of Ghosts where the past seems so much more real than the present.'

The book is now available on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ya3gfpb, as well as via my website www.janegordoncumming.co.uk.


  1. Anonymous1:18 PM

    The places one used to be able to "explore"...***SIGH*** I'll ahve to see if I can get a copy of this, Jane. I love good ghost story, I do! Cheers :)

  2. Since I happen to live in a haunted house, this is right up my little alley. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Sounds great! Ghost stories are right up my street!

  4. This sounds wonderful! I love ghost stories :) The canal setting sounds especially creepy.

  5. Thanks for sharing the amazon address so that we who live across the seas can buy it too. It sounds good.

  6. I have a particular taste for the macabre and ghoulish and I'm a huge fan of Colin Dexter and Morse. I'll have to get myself over to Amazon, I think.


  7. Jane, I notice that your personal link is not working correctly. It is taking me to some strange site, unrelated to you, I suspect.

  8. That's worrying, Poetikat. I've changed it to read www.janegordoncumming.co.uk and hope that works as a link.

    Thanks so much to the people who said they might buy it. If you have any problems, write to me on jane.gordoncumming@googlemail.com (my 'public' address I don't mind appearing on the Web).

    Now I want to hear more about Willow's haunted house!

  9. Yes, I Like The Sound Of This Book.I,m sure Blighty Is Full Of Ghostly Places, Its Good To Know They Are Begining To Be Documented!

  10. Anonymous12:11 PM

    very interesting! I must go on your website! The Bach


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