ELSIE Hall could tell a great ghost story. In a recording made when oral historian Van Wilson was researching her book The Story of Terry's, Elsie sounds like everyone's favourite grandmother. But then she gets around to a story about when she worked at the Terry's restaurant in St Helen's Square during the Second World War.

During the war, staff took it in turns to sleep overnight, a few at a time, in the restaurant above the Terry's shop in the building where Carluccio's now is, just to keep an eye on things.

Elsie had been asked to volunteer on the night of April 28, 1942 - but declined.

"I'd had a funny night (the previous night)," she explains. "We'd go to bed about ten, get washed and changed, and sleep in our slacks, in case anything happened.

"The others were all fast asleep. It would be about midnight. I heard footsteps in the room, and knowing that there was supposed to be a ghost, I daren’t do anything.

"We had four basket chairs where we used to sit. Then I heard a chair creak, and I was scared stiff. Then I felt the footsteps, they'd gone back onto this chair, and I never heard them actually go out."

She managed, somehow, to fall asleep, and at 6am the next morning asked the nightwatchman if he'd been in. He hadn't - and nor had his cat.

So when Elsie was asked to sleep in the restaurant the next night, April 28, she declined.

That was, of course, the night of the great York blitz, when bombs rained down on the city. "I thought afterwards it (her ghostly experience) was a sort of warning," Elsie says in the recording. "It was supposed to be the Grey Lady who walks to the Theatre."

Van first published The Story of Terry's in 2009. It covered the history of York's second great chocolate dynasty from the very first beginnings, in 1767, of the company that was to become Terry's. 1767 was the year in which two York men, William Bayldon and Robert Berry, opened a shop close to Bootham Bar selling cough lozenges, lemon and orange candied peel and other sweets.

It wasn't until 1823 that a 30-year-old apothecary named Joseph Terry joined the business. Nevertheless, the history of Terry's can be traced back to 1767 - 250 years ago.

Given that this is the anniversary year, it seemed the obvious time for Van to bring out an updated version of The Story of Terry's. She has added two new final chapters - one looking at the Chocolate Works development on the old Terry's factory site, the other focusing on Goddards, the former Terry home on Tadcaster Road - which bring the Terry's story right up to date.

But as always with Van's oral history books, it is the voices of the people who worked for the company and who were interviewed for the book that make The Story of Terry's such a great read.

The interviews have been painstakingly transcribed, and reproduced in great detail. They give a real, first person insight into what it was like, for generations of York people, to work for the company.

Terry Ellis, who started work as an apprentice electrician at Terry's in 1956, describes his job interview with a Mr Clayton.

Terry's dad was the manager of the restaurant and café, and had arranged for his son to be interviewed. After being kept waiting and waiting, he was called in - then promptly sent away again and told to bring his school reports with him.

Terry talked in a wonderful kind of staccato shorthand, which comes across beautifully in the transcript.

"So again I'm pedalling up Poppy Road, sweating, raked out these reports, same procedure, up to the office, knocked on the door, waited. 'Come in!' Showed him (Mr Clayton) them. The report said: 'More interested in the girls than doing work'. He said, 'A man after my own heart. You've got the job.'"

The same interviews are reproduced in the new edition as in the 2009 book, with a few updates and additions. But the big difference - apart from those two extra final chapters - is that the new edition includes a CD, on which you can listen, for yourself, to selected interviews.

So you can hear Elsie Hall telling her ghost story. And you can even listen to Noel Terry himself, talking - in a slightly aristocratic voice - about how the company developed. "In my early days we didn't really make chocolate at all," he can be heard telling his interviewer, the late John Shannon, in a recording made many years ago. "We were boiled sugar makers."

The CD only has room for 16 interviews - but there are far more people whose words are brought to life in the form of transcripts in the book itself.

For anyone with an interest in Terry's - and especially anyone who may have worked there - The Story of Terry's is unmissable.

Stephen Lewis

BLOB The Story of Terry's by Van Wilson is published by York Oral History Society, priced £12.95