Tales of dirty doings and dastardly deeds intrigue, amuse and horrify in turn as the reader travels back in time to walk with ghosts and murderers through the streets, pubs and theatres of historic Newcastle. 'Nightmare on Grey Street' is a quality, soft back publication, bursting with photographs and engravings from the archives of the City Library. Vanessa recalls ghoulish legends and terrifying factual accounts with relish. Her witty, tongue-in-cheek style is easy to read. I laughed out loud at her suggestion that readers of a 'sensitive disposition' skip the paragraph detailing Black Jacky's spell for invisibility. Her accounts are highly visual. Picture resentful mourners slipping away from the funeral procession of a noted miser, into ale houses that lined the route, later followed by the bearers who having realised that none of the mourners were likely to complain, sold the coffin and the corpse to the Barber Surgeons for beer money. Shudder at the horror of the inhabitants of Silver Street when the wall surrounding the elevated graveyard of All Saints Church collapsed, dumping skeletons on their doorsteps. She paints a gruesome picture of cadavers being dispatched across country in brown paper parcels by body snatchers and describes a world where having a plain face or a coveted piece of land could get you condemned and hanged as a witch. If you're looking for an inspirational gift for a homesick Tyneside ex-pat, or you're fascinated by Newcastle's darker past, this is the book for you.
This is a great little book, all about the somewhat ghoulish history of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is well written, well illustrated, fun to read and informative. I'd recommend it to anyone with interested in a quirkier side of Newcastle's history, or to any kids throughout the region.