Today, the stretch of James Street towards Elland town centre is no longer a predominantly residential district, the Victorian working-class terraces long since demolished and replaced by modern industrial units. However, in the late 19th and early 20th Century it would’ve been packed with housing. Landowner James Langdale built an extensive number of affordable homes in this area during the 19th Century, the evidence of which still survives on many of the surrounding streets. Indeed, James Street and others nearby were named after him or members of his family.
An article in the Halifax Courier and Guardian dated May 15th 1933 records an interesting ghost flap on the street which had started on Friday May 3rd, when residents were first disturbed by a terrifying moaning sound between the hours of half past eleven at night and three o’ clock the following morning. The sinister cacophony repeated itself between exactly the same hours on Tuesday 14th and again on Friday 10th. It evidently caused a great deal of consternation amongst the local residents, many of whom reported being unable to sleep until it was over, whilst one woman was so unnerved she required smelling salts.
The sound was described by Mrs. Perks of 28, James Street as “not like a dog or an owl or an electric hooter. It is a long moaning sound that makes you wonder if someone’s in pain somewhere. With it happening at night it makes it sound worse, whatever it is, and the worst of it is not knowing where it comes from or what it is.” Another told the newspaper reporter, “You can smile, but you’d be flaied if you heard it.” Several residents attempted to go in search of the source of the disturbance at night but nobody found anything and whilst the police had been informed, they had not reached any conclusions.
However, the initial account generated much discussion in the pages of the Halifax Courier & Guardian, with one editorial column wondering if the sounds might not be connected to one of Elland’s plethora of phantoms such as Old Leathery Coit. Meanwhile, a letter published in the paper on May 19th indicates that on the two nights following the report a great crowd of “ghost layers” gathered in the vicinity of James Street. This started with local children at around seven o’clock and then later, as midnight approached, dozens of adults, including a motorcyclist who patrolled the block. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the sounds were not heard again.