Morecambe Winter Gardens is an old theatre with an unusual style of haunting. It is said that the building, which dates back to 1870 and sits on the front pier of Morecambe, has a good side and an evil side.
The stage in the main auditorium, in particular, is subject to this ghostly divide. It is said that people on one side of the stage are sometimes harassed by a spiritual entity with enough anger to push, poke or even slap them.
The building, originally the site of swimming baths, was successful and grew to become the People’s Palace. Then in 1896 it was bought by two directors of a pier company, Mr Baker and Abbott, and transformed into the much larger Victoria Pavilion.
The oriental ballroom of the Victoria Pavilion/Morecambe Winter Gardens was designed by a pair of architects; Magnel and Littlewood. It is said that the two men loved their work and the building so much that even after death they refuse to leave. Many of the paranormal expeditions to the Winter Gardens attempt to find the old architect office and make contact with these spirits.
Despite the initial success of the expansion and theatre, Morecambe Winter Gardens was sold again in 1953 and once again faced entropy. This time the saviour was Louis Benjamin. Benjamin worked hard to keep the theatre relevant and converted the ballroom to the Dixieland Palace. It was a losing battle and in 1977 the theatre was closed again. The ballroom was demolished.
The building has also been used by the RAF. The air force is also included in the paranormal encounters and alongside heat spots, some visitors have reported seeing a woman dress in an RAF uniform.
Today, commercial and private paranormal investigators like Haunted Happenings, Spectre Analysis and Manchester Paranormal have all investigated the old buildings. Series 10 of Living TV’s Most Haunted featured two nights in Morecambe Winter Gardens. The first night was spent on the ‘good side’ of the theatre and the second night in the “evil half”.
Inside Morecambe Winter Gardens
There are a number of locations in particular within Morecambe Winter Gardens where it is said paranormal occurrences are more frequent.
The former ladies toilets on the first floor are said to be an area where muttering can be heard and shadowy presences felt.
The dressing room is said to be haunted by a seamstress who aspired to become a professional dancer or a dancer who failed to achieve fame. The frustration of this spirit is said to be easily felt by anyone with a degree of psychic awareness picks up on it strongly.
The bar in the Winter Gardens is also said to be haunted by a dark entity; one that does not like people lingering in its space.
A number of the stairwells in the building are said to be haunted. In particular, the stairwells which connect down to the large basement area or up to the circle of the auditorium.
One staircase, in particular, is subject to a story of possible murder and haunting. It is said that the spirit of a woman who fell to her death after a row lingers on the stairs. People overheard the raised voices and then the scream. Her husband said she fell but was she killed. Was there murder at Morecambe Winter Gardens?
The Winter Garden’s basement or cellar area is a particular focus of paranormal activity. There are accounts of thrown objects, EVP and the sounds of dogs growling.
Spectre Analysis’s blog says that a “TV programme” that visited the partially flooded cellar/basement may have left a connection between this and the otherworld open. They describe the possibility of a portal.
The psychics and investigators of Spectre Analysis suggest that a portal may have been opened and that a powerful entity has made it through, now free to trap souls.
Here’s a snippet from their blog post. Please visit their site for even more information.
A circle was formed which included Jacqui and the Medium, John. Those left stood close to them. People reported cold draughts (I have to say I thought they were coming form the open drains), swirling blue mists in the centre of the circle (I could not see this) and some felt they were aware of the Entity and of a spirit of a small child.
Jacqui started to shake uncontrollably and gripped the hands of her companions to such a degree that she was hurting them, she stared to sob. John came in and held Jaquie hands. He came to the conclusion that a spirit was seeking refuge in the circle and wanted to be released through Jacquie… which was done. At which point Jacqui collapsed, sobbing. She was then helped out of the cellar to recover.
The Circle reformed on John’s request, where the said Entity spoke through him briefly and said “Get the fxxxk out” nothing else transpired and as the team was leaving the cellar, Gill took a little paddle through to the other flooded rooms much to some peoples dismay…. of course, nothing happened to her.
During the start of the session I could clearly hear what sounded like the tinkling of metal, this was recorded on the Digital Recorded. This sound stopped when Jacqui had supposedly released the spirit. There was also a strange sound of what sounded like a man wretching in the background.
In Pure Spirit
Want to investigate Morecambe Winter Gardens yourself? I am often asked about arranging ghost tours and visits to some of the haunted locations that have appeared on TV. I’m afraid I’m not in the position to do so, but I’m sure local paranormal investigators can be contacted directly and may be happy to show you around. Alternatively, buyagift sells single and couples ghost hunting tour tickets*.
It’s interesting that Morecambe Winter Gardens is less than four miles from Palatine Hall where Doctor Buck Ruxton committed a series of grisly murders. Haunted locations are often clustered around areas of interest (portals, ley lines, dragon tracks, desecrated grounds, etc). Could the theatre be part of a larger network?
What do you think of these stories? Have you been to the old theatre?
Caveat: Links marked with stars(*) are revenue links.