Historian MIKE COVELL gives us his five haunted places to visit in Hull
Kingston upon Hull, or Hull as it is known locally, has a history stretching back over 700 years. During this period the city has endured bombing during WWI, bombing during WWII, numerous floods, plague outbreaks, cholera, witchcraft, murder, sea serpent scares, alleged satanic occult rituals, and even an earthquake.
It is no stranger to dark deeds and even darker history, but what five locations boast such a plethora of activity and an interesting history that they should make this list?
If you pick up any book on local ghost stories they will usually feature Ye Olde White Harte and Ye Olde Black Boy, to historical properties with a lot of dark history and a plethora of ghostly stories, but, I wanted to include some locations that were not so well know.
As a paranormal researcher and local historian in the past I have collected, collated, researched, debunked, and written about hundreds of cases from haunted hotels, to haunted inns, hostelries, theatres, community centres, grave yards, streets, railway lines, and even domestic properties.
Here is a selection of my top haunted locations in Hull.
The Dram Shop
Situated on George Street in Hull The Dram Shop is a lovely little corner pub with a wonderfully centrally placed round bar! The spirits, or Drams, however, come not from behind the bar but throughout the public house itself.
Some years ago a randy spirit was reported by female staff. The spirit in question, whose identity remains unknown, would slap and pinch the females on their bottoms!!
A female has also been spotted in the bar. One evening when the landlord was closing up his wife asked who the female was on CCTV sat in the bar area. He replied that there was no female in the bar, to which his wife replied that there was not only a female in the bar, she was sat near him and laughing! Her identity remains unknown.
During a photo shoot that I participated in with the landlord we heard numerous knocks and taps in the cellar area, which boasts a wonderfully dark, damp, disturbing tunnel. On one occasion we heard metal barrels moving, but upon inspection, they were all present and correct.
The building itself dates from 1894 but a much earlier wine and spirit merchants stood on this spot from as early as 1882, and a tea dealer existed here from as early as 1806.
Interestingly, both Elizabeth Gelson and Thomas Gelson, a married couple that worked and resided on the site in the 1830s and 1840s both died at this location in 1838 and 1840 respectively. Could he be the phantom posterior pincher? Could she be the laughing lady seen in the bar?
The Punch Hotel
A lovely ornate building situated overlooking Hull’s Queen Victoria Square. The original building was erected in 1946 and fronted the nearby Waterhouse Lane, but by 1895 a new road had opened at the front and a rebuild was in order. By 1896 the frontage we see today was completed and opened.
Activity reported here centres around the bar area where staff and clients have reported seeing two children at play.
The identities could be that of the Wallis children, who were with their father and aunt at the public house on May 7/8th 1941, when the air raid sirens went off. They decided to seek shelter under the nearby Prudential Buildings, which took a direct hit, and the family were wiped out. The pub, however, was not damaged!
Since then their ghostly forms have been seen and experienced by many people, they always appear to be playful and happy.
The Wallis family had only moved in to the pub from 1936 when the previous landlord had passed away. Only a small general memorial exists on the spot of the Prudential Tower, but it does not mention their names.
The Royal Station Hotel
Anyone heading into Hull via the railway will immediately come face to face with the rear of this wonderful Victorian building. It has played host to a number of royals over the years including Queen Victoria, Prince Albert Victor, Prince Albert Edward, and his son Prince Albert Victor. It has also played host to 10 “Jack the Ripper” suspects, the most notorious being Frederick Bailey Deeming, who came here on his bigamous honeymoon and would set off from here to defraud the local jewellery store. Its subterranean network of tunnels was also once home to the barbershop of Bertram Holmes, a man who was sent to prison for murder!
If that doesn’t send a chill down the spine perhaps I should draw attention to the series of unsolved deaths in the hotel between the 1900’s and 1930’s, when a series of men turned up dead in the hotel all had seemingly committed suicide, but the inquests revealed that they all lead happy lives with wives and children and had no financial worries. In two cases the gentleman had suffered a throat cutting!
The hotel boasts a series of ghosts from a Victorian bellboy, seen in the bar, a ghostly band playing in the Royal Suite, a spectral waiter, also in the Royal Suite, and several ghostly children in the bar.
Probably the most infamous of the apparitions seen at the hotel is that of a spectral tall man seen in the tunnels. His appearance usually seen only by men, but his appearance has sent grown men into a panic and made one run from the building in tears!
I have had the privilege of spending many hours in the hotel; I love the atmosphere, and have only once felt uneasy, when a large black mass appeared behind a girl in the basement toilet area, causing panic and a sense of unease.
Crown House was originally built in the 1930s as Shell Mex House, and was the cornerstone of the Ferensway project. Its name came from the fact that Shell Mex owned the majority of the offices within the building.
Some years ago I was approached by a couple of ladies that worked in the building and they reported seeing an apparition consisting of nothing more than legs in black trousers and black boots. They walked up an old stairway into what is today a concrete ceiling and vanished.
The ladies were both baffled and shocked but asked me to look into it.
A trip to the Hull History Centre and a dig through the archives revealed the fact that not only had the building been targeted during WWII, as it housed the ARP command centre, but that a direct hit had resulted in the loss of life of Dr. Diamond, the Deputy Director for Medical Health in Hull. Our story, however, does not concern him, but a man who was entrusted to open the doors of the basement, a gentleman named Police Constable Garton. His job was to open the doors to the communal shelter under the command centre and to let people in. When the bomb dropped P.C. Garton was killed instantly, the official reports cite that after walking up the stairs he walked out onto the street and was killed. The only remains that could be found of him where shreds of his black trousers and bits of leather from his black boots!
The Hull New Theatre
A lovely building set in amazing surroundings. The car park behind the theatre was once home to Christchurch, where both Lewis Carroll’s mother’s parents were married and “Jack the Ripper” suspect Dr. Frederick Richard Chapman was also wed. The nearby Kingston Street and Silvester Street were once the home of Hull born “Jack the Ripper” suspect Robert D’Onston Stephenson’s father, and Charles Street where Robert D’Onston Stephenson was born.
The theatre itself has played host to a wide range of celebrities including Laurel and Hardy in July 1947, and Stephen Adams, the alias of Michael Maybrick, and brother of “Jack the Ripper” suspect and alleged author of the “Ripper Diary” also played here. Charles Dickens also made appearances, reading his books to a captivated audience.
It was once the assembly rooms and a theatre has stood on the spot since 1834 when it was known as the Public Rooms and later the Assembly Rooms. It has undergone alterations through the years and been expanded to take over a nearby Freemasons Lodge.
One of the most well known of the spirits said to haunt the building is that of “Charlie,” a mischievous spirit said to knock on doors, open and close doors and cause chaos down in the dressing rooms.
A lady has been seen in the dress circle, and a general feeling of un
ease has been reported. On one occasion I witnessed activity in Royal Box B that left me with a large red welt on my neck, not unlike a scratch mark.
The building has an incredible atmosphere, and never ceases to amaze.
All in all Hull has some incredible ghost stories, many of which can be backed up by historical fact. Later this year, with the help of my publisher, the true extent of the ghost stories in Hull will be revealed in full, but for now, enjoy my top five!!
MIKE COVELL has published 9 books on the darker side of British history looking at unsolved murders and mysteries. He has another 12 books on the way covering the darker side of Hull’s history that he recently submitted to the publishers. He has worked on television, including documentaries, news programs and most recently Most Haunted. He has worked extensively on Hull’s history for the past decade offering advice on television shows, radio shows, newspaper articles and magazines. He is currently employed by Thunrderball Films International to advise on and appear in a number of projects. He runs his own tour company in Hull, specialising in tours, lectures, and education visits and he volunteers at the Hull History Centre on the WWII project. Mike is happily married with three children.