SOMETHING strange is going on at The Anchor in Redbridge. Is there a poltergeist or a restless spirit on the loose?

Landlady Maxine Winkworth and her husband Maurice say that since they took over the pub more than two years ago they have often felt a mysterious presence, especially at the beginning of April.

They are not talking bumps in the night or ghostly apparitions but personal belongings have disappeared and then turned up again in the strangest places. Last year a piece of computer equipment vanished for weeks but in April it reappeared in the bottom of a wardrobe.

Maxine said: “We laughed about it but then we heard about a visitor who was alone in the lounge one day and heard footsteps upstairs... she was certain that she was the only person in the place.

They pair already knew that the pub was a last stopover for some of Titanic’s crew but their research uncovered up another sad story.

‘Boysie’ Richard Russell was the son of Richard and Emily Russell who came from Bournemouth and took over The Anchor in 1912.

The Anchor is a busy pub, even in these lean times, but it must have been even busier then.

It stood at the main crossing of the River Test, the splendid but sadly now understated Portland stone bridge. It still stands, unused except by anglers and the daredevils who jump from its parapet to swim on hot summer evenings.

In 1912, New Forest drovers would drive their animals across the bridge to market and the rural community would “drop anchor” at The Anchor for refreshment The atmosphere at the village pub in the early days of April 1912 must have been buzzing. Emily’s eldest son Richard, known as Boysie had just signed up as a steward on the world’s greatest unsinkable liner. In the little village of Redbridge there would have been talk of little else.

“Have you heard young Boysie Russell signed up for Titanic as a steward. He’s off to New York. I bet his mum and dad are so proud!”

It’s easy to imagine this handsome young lad standing in the shadow of the great ship then boarding to meet his fellow crewmen for the adventure of a lifetime. But it was not to be. Boysie Russell never came home – the sea claimed him along with so many others on that dreadful night, April 15, 1912.

There is sparse information about what Boysie went through and records show that even if his body was ever recovered it was never positively identified.

We are simply left with a moving brass plate memorial bearing Richard’s name inside St Mary’s the Virgin at Eling. His name appears along with Frederick Goodwin, William Thomas and Tom Warwick and William Hine of Lyndhurst. The inscription is moving: “When thou Passest Through the Waters, I Will be with Thee.”

The Southern Daily Echo carried his death notice as follows: Russell, Boysie Richard. Dearly beloved Eldest Son of Richard and Emily Russell, of the Anchor Hotel, Redbridge, …..In His 17th Year.

The poignancy of it all lies in his tender age. Boysie was just a lad with all his future ahead of him.

And that got Maxine and Maurice wondering. What if he missed the pub so much that his spirit occasionally comes back to visit?

Maxine said: “It’s so sad to think that young lad left here looking to start his life as a young man and never came home.”

She said: “We were told that several other crewmen stayed at The Anchor in the days before the ship sailed. Their stories have not been told at least as far as we are aware. If there were a connection at least we think it’s a friendly ghost.”

Ghost or no ghost, with another Titanic anniversary approaching, Maxine and Maurice will be battening down the hatches at The Anchor.

With thanks to Encyclopedia Titanica for extra information.