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The Ghost of Billy Brierley (2024)

The Ghost of Billy Brierley as depicted by British artist David Young in 2024.

The Ghost of Billy Brierley is a 2024 illustration painted by British artist David Young and commissioned by the Astronist Institution. It depicts the night of 1st December 1952 when Hilda Cottam witnessed the ghost of a fourteen year old boy appear to her on Hoghton Lane near the village of Higher Walton in Lancashire. Hilda retold the story of her seeing the ghost of Billy Brierley to her grandson Cometan who worked to have the painting commissioned.

The artwork was published on 7th March 2024.

Official description[]

The following is the description provided by the Astronist Institution to describe the painting:

On a wintery night in December 1952, a teenage girl named Hilda Cottam was walking home along a country road near the village of Higher Walton in Lancashire after visiting her friend with whom she had been dressmaking. As Hilda strolled along the snow-sprinkled pavement with not another soul in sight, her stomach dropped as she saw in the distance a figure suddenly appear around the bend in the road. Hilda realised this was no ordinary person for they were running in the middle of the lane along the cat’s eyes. The silhouette kept running towards her and as it got closer, Hilda’s heart beat faster and faster as the figure’s strange appearance became clear. She noticed that the figure was a boy smaller in height than herself which abated her worries somewhat but she could not make out the boy’s face for he was wearing a helmet with a grille. Then, as the boy kept running towards her, she noticed he was wearing knee socks, schoolboy shorts and a white shirt and jumper as if he had just finished a game of cricket. Just as the boy approached where Hilda was walking, to settle her nerves, she called to him “goodnight” but the boy said nothing and kept running in the road. The second he passed Hilda she turned around in fear that he might attack her from behind but when she turned, all she saw were snowflakes whirling in the wind on the empty road. The boy had vanished. Hilda later realised that what she had seen that night was an apparition of William “Billy” Brierley who had died when he was fourteen exactly a year earlier and had lived at a house on Hoghton Lane nearby to where he had appeared to Hilda.

See also[]