In its heyday, Accrington in Lancashire was famous for making the bricks the built the world, including New York’s Empire State Building. CRAIG BRYANT, from the Paranormal Pendle Podcast, tells us his five favourite haunted Accrington locations, including some of his own experiences!
The Ghost of Ursula of Black Abbey Street
The story goes that during the heyday of the Abbey, a young member of the devout order of monks who inhabited the Abbey fell in love with a nobleman’s daughter.
They took to meeting in secret, biding their time until the monk could leave the order and marry.
One night, however, their tryst was discovered by Ursula’s father and his henchmen, and the monk was captured.
He was chained to a wall and set on fire.
Ursula, on hearing his screams, ran to help only to find her lover a black and charred heap of bones on the floor.
She died shortly after of a broken hear and her ghost is often seen floating down Black Abbey Street towards the River Hyndburn which cuts through the centre of the town.
She is described as being surrounded by a halo of light, her long blonde hair flowing down her back as she silently glides towards her witness, arms outstretched as if beckoning them towards her.
Once approached, however, her appearance changes and the flesh seems to fall off her bones as she lets out a blood curdling wail of anguish.
Some witnesses claim she bursts into flames as they approach her, others say that she horrifically morphs into a blackened and charred skeleton before suddenly fading from sight.
Whatever her appearance, Ursula and Black Abbey Street seems forever entwined with that fateful event many centuries ago.
Warner Street, Accrington
There have been many investigations into paranormal activity which abounds on Warner Street.
One particular shop had become the centre of poltergeist activity, and during an investigation by two mediums, the name Josiah kept coming through.
At one point, one of the mediums was pushed down some steep stairs by Josiah, who seemed to be a particularly cruel and aggressive spirit.
Interestingly, Josiah was described as being like a “Slenderman” or a “Shadow Man”; a tall, thin, dark apparition wearing a tall hat.
Warner Street is only a few hundred yards from Cannon Street, the site of the now-demolished Accrington Conservative Club and many sightings of a Shadow Man.
Josiah is known to move around the area and has been seen around St James’ church as well as Black Abbey Street and it seems likely that my experience was, in fact, with Josiah himself.
The ghost of a young boy also made himself known during the investigations, and in particular to Diane’s husband. “Christopher” manifested himself as a boy dressed in Victorian clothing with blood over his hands, repeatedly saying that he “didn’t do it”, over and over again.
He was seen on a number of occasions to run across the road from one shop close by to where Josiah was causing
The Shadow Man
In the 1990s, I worked at the Accrington Conservative Club on Cannon Street.
One midweek evening I was manning the members bar on my own.
The bar itself was fairly long and straight, maybe about 25 foot or so from memory with an opening to my left into the snooker room. It was made of dark wood, perhaps stained oak, and was lacquered. It added to the already dark atmosphere of the room.
There was nobody playing snooker that evening and I recall not many people had been in for a drink. Bernard was pottering about on the upstairs floors leaving me alone for most of the evening.
As I was stood with my back against the rear of the bar, the opening to the snooker room to my left, I saw a figure out of the corner of my eye.
As I turned my head to see who it was, (I presumed a customer had somehow slipped past my gaze and gone into the adjoining room), I saw the outline of a tall man, dressed in long dark clothes with what looked like an angular hat, rather like a fedora, leaning on the bar. It had no facial features at all.
The figure was opaque, like a thick mist, and quite substantial. It had no arms that I could see, and because it was behind a waist high bar I could not see its legs.
It was leaning over towards me, seemingly looking for something down on the floor or behind the bar.
The figure was tall and thin, much thinner than a real person and looked ‘stretched’ out almost as if it was being pulled from both ends!
All this was indelibly etched into my memory, despite the figure slowly fading to a mist and disappearing after only a few seconds.
At first, I felt amazement, but then suddenly my heart started to beat faster as I panicked and realised what I had seen. I had actually seen a ghost!
Boon Kirk Farm, Rising Bridge near Accrington
My wife, Sarah, and her family shared Boon Kirk Farm near Accrington with at least one ghost.
The activity was typical of that of a poltergeist. It was known to throw objects and open and close doors at will.
There were a number of strange incidents including objects disappearing and appearing in totally different places, heavy footfalls and door slamming.
The activity intensified after my mother-in-law decided to sell the farm, and invited a local estate agent to offer a valuation of the property. Every time the poor man came to the farm, the ageing electricity fuse box would inexplicably blow a fuse, leaving the farm in total darkness and without any electricity.
This happened more than once and always when he was paying a visit. It seemed that someone, or something, was trying to deter the sale of the farm.
Sarah’s grandfather, Sam, could turn his hand to almost any kind of repair and spent a good portion of his time pottering around the farm building gates, fixing fences, replacing windows, painting and generally helping with the upkeep of the farm. He sadly passed away a few years ago having lived well into his 90s.
Originally from Liverpool, I enjoyed listening to stories about his family and early life, especially with a single malt whisky in hand. He recalled that he and Sarah’s grandmother had settled down one evening whilst they were house sitting.
He was sat in the armchair when all of a sudden, and with no warning, a glass lifted itself from the sideboard, slowly moved through the air across the room, and then dropped to the floor, smashing as it hit the stone flagging.
As you can imagine, this gave both of them quite a start and Sam said neither of them could explain what had happened. They had clearly seen the glass lift up and float through the air, as if by some unseen hand.
Other members of the family often heard heavy footfalls coming from upstairs when they knew everyone was downstairs.
It sounded as if a heavy person, probably a man, was walking along the hallway with metal studded shoes or boots.
Interestingly, the footfalls sounded as if they were on stone flags rather than wooden floor boards, obviously harking back to a time before the current flooring was laid.
If a member of the family shouted for the entity to stop stomping about, it invariably would!
Indeed, the entity used to bang loudly on Sarah’s sister’s door in the middle of the night until she had had enough and screamed ‘Stop it and leave me alone!’ ……which it did!
Unit Four Cinema, Accrington
The story goes back to 1974 and a report in the Manchester Evening News newspaper. When the cinema was being converted into three screens apparently all sorts of supernatural phenomena were witnessed.
As soon as the conversion work began the cinema and workers were plagued by supernatural occurrences.
The cinema was still open to the public despite the renovation work, and the first instance of anything strange was during the midnight showing of an ‘X’ rated film. The curtains closed of their own accord half way through the ‘performance’, witnessed by a good many disgruntled patrons!
The Cinema Manager at the time was a gentleman by the name of Sidney Gournelle. One night he reputedly saw a blue light hovering in mid air in a corridor and when he approached, shining his torch in the direction of the light, it cast a shadow of a tall thin man on the door behind.
A workman was walking down the same corridor when he felt two icy hands gripping his shoulders. He apparently ran for his life and never returned to the cinema.
When Mr Gournelle tried to force Lucifer, the cinema cat, (yes, really, I had to read that twice as well!) into the projection room, it flew down the stairs and, apparently panic stricken, clawed an usherette!
A local medium was brought in and described the events as those of an irate ghost.
The Medium continued the spirit was that of a workman killed in an accident on the site when the original cinema was being built back in the 1930s.
The spirit, according to the medium, was expressing his disapproval of the building work in the cinema. Apparently, he didn’t like the renovations!
Things got so bad that a priest was called in to exorcise the cinema.
Although the newspaper stated that the priest wished to remain anonymous, contemporary reports suggest that the paranormal activity subsided after the exorcism, although there was still a noticeable chill in the cinema even on hot summer days.
Quite obviously the exorcism only quietened the ghost for a while and various manifestations started up again shortly afterwards.
Have you seen a ghost in Accrington? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
CRAIG BRYANT is the host of Paranormal Pendle Podcast and author of The Black Monks of Accrington and The Shadow Man of Accrington, both available on Amazon. You can visit his website www.craigbryant.co.uk.