Halifax in West Yorkshire is a former textile town and is now the location for many TV programmes including Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack. ANDY OWENS takes a look at five of the most haunted places there.
Ghost of Gentleman Jack?
Anne Lister was renowned as an industrialist, landowner, and author of a secret diary recounting her affairs with other women, and now immortalised in the TV drama Gentleman Jack, much of which was filmed in Lister’s family home, Shibden Hall and its grounds.
Many years ago, the late steward of the hall, Tony Sharpe (there is a memorial bench named in his honour on the front porch), told me of his strange experiences whilst working there alone at night.
He heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps, along an upper landing and found no one to account for it when he went to investigate. Also, when he was in the tower at the side of the building, he sensed there was something behind him, up above him, like “a big, black cloak,” but he was too terrified to turn around to see what it was, and he left the area sharpish!
Other reported phenomena include the smell of lavender and pipe tobacco smoke.
The Ring O’Bells
Lying in the shadow of Halifax Minster, this inn has a resident ghost – dubbed ‘Walter’ – who has been glimpsed standing at the fireplace by some customers.
Common poltergeist activity has also been reported – including by previous licensees – including bathroom taps being turned on and beer taps being turned off!
Mystery at t’ Mill
The sprawling complex of the Dean Clugh mill complex, former owned by the Crossley family and which used to be the largest carpet manufacturer in Europe, has now been divided into separate ‘mill buildings’ which now comprise of a range of businesses and other organisations.
The spirits of a girl and boy in Victorian clothes were reported by staff and customers at the Design House restaurant by staff and customers, and were most often reported by chefs in the kitchen area.
Trev Nelson who works for Phoenix Community Radio at Dean Clough had various experiences including the sound of loud bangs, and the taps turning themselves on in the toilets, when no-one else was in the vicinity.
The most bizarre experience reported by a fellow presenter was the sight of a disembodied head floating through the air!
Staff at the former ‘Liquid’ nightclub on Fountain Street watched a figure walk through the wall.
He was identified as Raymond Farrar, a projectionist at the building when it was used as a cinema, who died in a fire back in the 1950s.
Philip Pearcy saw the figure of a man, mistaking him for a customer who had got lost, but when the barman approached him, the figure just vanished. The manager of the club, Neill Maguire saw the figure behind the bar. He watched as Raymond walked past the fridges which had been propped open for re-stocking, which then all mysteriously closed as he passed them, and then vanish through the wall.
After the story appeared in the Halifax Courier, two women came forward, (who worked there as cleaners when the building was a bingo hall back in the 1960s), to tell of their own experiences.
They told how the ghost used to stand at the balcony, which was unused at the time, and watch the people playing bingo down below.’
Mrs Wells recognised Raymond from Mr Maguire’s description of the ghost’s hair. ‘It’s his hair. It’s the same style.’
Long Can Hall
Now a pub and restaurant, Long Can was originally two ancient cottages built together and was later owned by Webster’s Brewery as a centre for meetings and events.
Many years ago, catering manageress Sarah Thornton told me of the spine-chilling feelings she felt of not being alone, and the sound of footsteps she heard when alone in the building.
Also, one day, a cleaner at the building spun round quickly to glimpse the image of a grey lady disappearing through the floorboards!
Have you seen a ghost in Halifax? Tell us in the comments section below!
ANDY OWENS lives in Halifax and writes the (honest) paranormal blog Spooky Vocation. His latest book is Ghosts: First-Hand Accounts of the Supernatural (paperback, £7.95). Signed copies, postage free, are available from https://owensandy.com