Vengeful ghosts and tales of the unexplained: Blackpool's haunted past
From the anguished spirit of a spurned theatre fan to the cries of ghostly sailors whose wooden ships succumbed to the waves, paranormal investigator Stephen Mercer has vowed to uncover Blackpool's supernatural secrets.
In his ‘Blackpool Ghost Walks’, he reveals some of the many eerie rumours surrounding the town’s landmarks, including the Blackpool Tower, the North Pier, the Grand Theatre and St John’s Square.
For one night only, The Gazette joined him – and a crowd of fellow paranormal fans – in his grand tour of the unexplained.
We set off from the tourist information centre on Blackpool Promenade and head quickly towards the Comedy Carpet, where we are treated to our first ghost story.
Here we learn about spooky sightings of legendary clown Charlie Cairoli at the Blackpool Tower Circus.
With an appropriate swish of his Victorian-style cape, Stephen tells his audience about the various appearances his spirit is said to have made over the years.
The story is just one of a multitude of myths and rumours explained during the one-and-a-half hour tour of the resort.
The Grand Theatre is not just popular with the living, we discover.
The venue, we’re told, is home to a terrifying spectre – a wealthy theatre-goer known only as ‘Charlie’, whose tale is one of unrequited love with an unfortunate ending.
And the North Pier, with its rich history as an attraction for well-to-do holidaymakers, is still the favourite destination of a mysterious Victorian woman, seen sitting side-saddle on the carousel.
Stephen said: “I have to say that I can’t imagine not doing the ghost walks.
“I think I have become a little bit of a performer.
“I get lots of great comments and that spurs me on.”
The ghost tour has proved a hit over the years, growing far beyond the expectations Stephen had when he first set out, armed with his terrifying tales, to entertain and educate.
“Seven years ago I decided to do an outside walking tour at Halloween,” he said.
“That’s where the idea came from and over the years it became more popular and grew from just once a year to throughout the school holidays.
“I really enjoy telling these stories and taking people around Blackpool, not only telling the ghost stories but about our history and heritage, which I think is important.”
Even the most hardened sceptic can appreciate the entertainment value of a good ghost story – all the better if the story is right on their doorstep.
But one mystery still remains - is any of it true?
Stephen said: “People have been sending me their stories for years.
“These people are 100 per cent sure they have seen something, and when you’ve got 10 or 20 other people who don’t know them saying they’ve seen the same thing, I think that merits my belief.
“I don’t think we are the only existence here. Things happen that scientists can’t explain.
“I think there’s more than just what we can see every day.”
n The Blackpool Ghost Walk will continue every night this month excluding Wednesdays and Sundays.
To find out more about supernatural activity in Blackpool, visit www.supernaturalevents.co.uk.