As Europe lived in the shadow of impending war, the town of Halifax, nestling in sandstone splendour (if a little run down from its industrial heyday) lived in the shadow of a horror of its own. A mysterious 'slasher' was attacking the town's women - leaving them in terror of his approach.
Today, the Slasher is considered to be a case of mass-hysteria alongside such phantasms as the Mad Gasser of Matoon. But for a few short weeks in 1938, he was all too real. In his wake lay a slew of victims - some real, some imagined - and the threat of mob violence.
The streets which were gripped by his supposed presence are little changed since those days. Narrow rows of terraces under the shadow of the mill buildings which still stand - although today many are turned over to flats or modish arts centres.
While the atmosphere of hysteria surrounding the Slasher led to at least 3 self-inflicted attacks and more than one dangerous outbreak of vigiltantism, there remained 3 women who were almost certainly the victims of real attacks. Whether these were inflicted by the same unknown hand will probably forever remain unknown, and their suffering was lost amidst the fever that the phantasm they unknowingly helped to create.
Author: Paul Carpenter | Last updated: 2nd March 2012 URL: http://www.weirdisland.co.uk/behaviour/mass-hysteria/the-halifax-slasher.html