69. The Phantom Wall Smasher!
Well, that's what the press, being The Sun, Daily Mirror and Metropolitan Police newspaper The Job called him in 1977. Following on from last week's feature on bizarre compulsions and spectral assailants, this time we move onto less sinister acts, but something certainly irritating.
It took place between the July and September of '77, mainly around Danby Street in Peckham. It was here that some unseen 'wall banger' was on the rampage. Entire walls would be found by house owners, crumbling and in piles in their gardens. In other cases walls would have been smashed or toppled. Maybe a local resident had simply had enough with his neighbourhood and decided to carry out these attacks, but no culprit was ever arrested.
Police of course didn't take the damage that seriously at first – the 'Harvey Wallbanger' was clearly more than just a cocktail, but an invisible figure who then begun to make a name for himself. Children were ruled out of the attacks because some walls were simply too high or robust; maybe an ex-bricklayer with a hatred for all things 'brick' was taking out his bitterness of a previous employer by battering wall after wall, but as the cases mounted to several dozen, it was clear that some slightly unhinged vandal was on the loose.
Victims of the mystery yob were paying hundreds of pounds to repair the damage created. The first alleged victim had been tidying their garden, quickly popped back indoors to fetch a milk bottle but upon returning was shocked to see no wall at all fronting the garden! There was no sound and yet within a few seconds no wall! Two other residents decided to keep watch over the area and yet their walls were also reduced to a pile of bricks as they nipped to the toilet. Indeed, the wrecker was taking on some kind of ghostly facade for the press, as only in one case was a sound recorded, that being two thumps, but in no case was a person seen doing the damage or running from the scene.
Of course, as the colder months drew closer the wall attacks ceased. And the mystery of the destructor was never solved.
Whether poltergeist or clever criminal we'll never know, but if some slightly angry human was to blame, they were clearly a wall short of a brick or two...
Photo by michael gallacher on flickr