Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ghost Hunting in Morecambe's Winter Gardens

Morecambe's Winter Gardens. Photo courtesy www.hauntedeventsuk.com

How many of our local iconic buildings might be haunted? Lee Roberts reports on a recent 'Ghost Hunt' at Morecambe's Winter Gardens...

When I first walked into Morecambe Winter Gardens I was blown away with the beauty of the place. Although it is just a shell of a building now, you can just imagine what it must have been like in its glory days.

The location is famous in its own right but for fans of the paranormal, it was thrust onto the paranormal circuit when the TV show Most Haunted did an eight day live special from there called “The Eight Faces of Evil” in 2009. From that point on, rarely a weekend goes by without some paranormal team, group or individuals booking it out and spend the night there.

Built on the site of a swimming baths, many people believe the old theatre is haunted - particularly the stage area, where, on one side of the stage people are sometimes harassed by a spiritual entity with enough anger to push, poke or even slap them. According to a report on the web site One True Spirit, asking if something evil stalks the theatre, the ghost of a seamstress who aspired to become a professional dancer or a dancer who failed to achieve fame haunts one of the dressing rooms; and there are other ghosts in places such as the bar, and a number of the stairwells.

Morecambe's Winter Gardens stage and main
auditorium. Photo courtesy www.hauntedeventsuk.com
I attended as part of the Haunted Events UK team earlier this month and, as a fairly new company, we were glad to be holding events at such a glorious location with so many rooms and corridors to hold so many different experiments.

The Morecambe Winter Gardens volunteers were always on hand if we needed anything and they also took the guests round on a 45 minute history tour of the building before we started the main event.

Before the event got under way -- and even before all the guests had arrived -- Brian and Andy, who where our volunteers for the night were all excited about something: ghostly footprints.

The night before our event, a group had been in the building and left a paddling pool down under the stage area, which they'd filled with sand and then smoothed over. As Brian had been going round doing his usual health and safety checks he decided to have a quick look at the paddling pool -- and there were two footsteps in prints in the sand.

Yes -- I know what you may be thinking as I did. Maybe he had made the footsteps by mistake and maybe someone else had gained entry. I asked these questions myself and it turned out that no-one else had access between the volunteers locking up as far as they knew. The footprints themselves were odd, too: they were those of someone wearing large pointy style shoes with no grip or in print on the sole, very much like a man's evening shoe. Brian was wearing work boots with a rounded sole with grips on, as was Andy. So my conclusion was that either someone was playing tricks or something really did walk through the sand making the footprints! I decided to take a picture and then smooth over again to see if we can pick it up again later.

Morecambe's Winter Gardens. Photo
courtesy www.hauntedeventsuk.com
Exploring the grand building, the higher floors always seem that more intense to me and that is where I decided to begin our event. The theatre is split into two halves and is a mirror image of each other: one used to be the male side and the other the female side. It is also said by some that the theatre has a good and evil side! Can you guess which is which?

We began in the males side bar. I always feel uneasy in here, as if someone if watching us all the time and I wasn’t alone as guests also started picking this up.

After a while I decided to move back out into the corridor that links the two sides together. As soon as we did this we heard movement coming from the room we had just been stood in: clear footsteps where heard by most of the guests and shuffling. We all knew that we were the only ones in the building and that no-one was walking round.

I decided to be brave and go in to check that no-one had gained entry without us knowing. As I walked into the room I was overwhelmed by a feeling of not being welcome in there. There was no-one there and I don’t scare easily -- but I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. As the group moved closer, the footsteps faded and eventually stopped all together.

Our equipment was going wild with Electro Magnetic Field meters going through the roof and K2 meters getting a reading too.

We moved on down behind the stage where we held a big group vigil to see if we could get any energies. As one of the Haunted Events UK team began calling out, I started hearing a flicking noise in my right ear. I couldn’t feel it but it was as if someone was trying to flick my ear. It was really annoying if nothing else. I knew no-one was there and that the person next to me wasn’t doing it but couldn’t explain where it was coming from.

Some of the guests also started feeling as if someone was behind them. I was intrigued about what this was but it didn’t seem to do anything else other than give us the feeling someone was there.

Dave Tarbrook, who is a medium but a also a guest on the night picked up on a name “Louis” and the feeling that he was unhappy with the state of the place and that it was his property. On record is a “Louis Benjamin” -- he was the manager of Morecambe Winter Gardens in 1953 and saved it from closing down.

We moved under the stage to conduct some table tipping and glass divination experiments. Both exercises were very active and we got results on both.

Part of Morecambe's Winter Gardens. Photo
courtesy www.hauntedeventsuk.com
It is always good to see guests look at you as if you are moving the glass or pushing the table, then watch their face as you step away and the glass or table is still going strong. It is a look of disbelief and shock on some, delight on others knowing that I had nothing to do with it and confusion as they look at others to point the finger at.

After the break we conducted an Electronic Voice Phenomena experiment and also split into smaller teams to see if we would get any activity. We managed to get lights, bangs, taps and a few prods on some guests.

After our experiences on the night, I'd argue Morecambe's Winter Gardens is a real must if you are interesting in the paranormal. Not only is the place very active but has a lot of unsolved mysteries. I will be going back to try and find out what caused them such as the footprints, the footsteps, the flicking noise in my ear and why so many guests take photos of the balcony and boxes and often get a figure stood there when actually no-one is on the balcony or box.

I’ll be going back there very soon as the place has got me hooked on the place and the sheer size of the location means you need several nights to investigate properly. If you do get chance to go with a group, whether it be Haunted Events UK and myself, or another groupp, my advice is do it -- you won’t be disappointed.


• If you do want to join Lee Roberts on a Ghost Hunt please visit www.hauntedeventsuk.com for a full list of events. Check out Lee's personal web site at www.officialleeroberts.com or follow him on Twitter: www.Twiiter.com/MrLeeRobert 

One True Spirit: Is Something Evil Haunting the Winter Gardens?


Spectre Analysis: Report on 2008 Investigation


Haunted Happenings: Morecambe's Winter Gardens

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