The usually unseen nooks and crannies of Lancaster’s 167-year-old train station are to be opened up to the public for one night only - but only for those who are brave enough!
Virgin Trains staff have been left spooked by a number of unexplained goings-on and want everyone else to come and see whether they think the historic buildings are haunted this Hallowe’en.
A ghost walk on November 1 will take guests to parts of the station where mysterious figures, bizarre noises and other chilling encounters have been reported - including areas not seen by the public for decades.
Set underneath the city’s historic castle, the original part of station was built in 1846, the same year the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway opened. Designed by Sir William Tite, its Elizabethan manor house style is largely unchanged.
“We will be going off in groups, exploring and getting to see areas of the station that people don’t normally get to see, especially at night,” explained Scott Millington, a Virgin Trains team leader at Lancaster.
Sitting in one of around half a dozen empty rooms on platform three which have not been used since the 1960s, Scott, 37, continued: “Staff don’t like coming up here on their own, they tend to hear footsteps. People won’t come up here at night.
“When we were preparing for the last ghost hunt two years ago I was in this room hoovering and my colleague was next door and I saw a shadow going out through the door of the room on the other side.
“I shouted to my colleague who said ‘I’m here’ so I waited for someone else to walk past but they never did.”
The buildings once housed clerical staff and accountants and include a chaplain’s office and the present-day station manager’s base.
But many are redundant, musty-smelling and have paint peeling away, ripped carpets and floorboards showing.
Some claim to have seen a figure on the narrow cobweb-strewn, 28-step spiral staircase, which leads from those rooms and out onto the roof.
One theory is the figure is a railway servant who was tragically killed on the staircase more than 100 years ago. It has been sealed ever since.
It was only in 2009 that the lower part of the staircase was re-discovered fully intact.
Another apparition - the so-called ‘white lady of platform six’ - is a talking point among workers.
The platform, closed since the Lancaster Green Ayre station shut in 1966, is a moss-covered, closed-off no-go area.
Its buildings, underneath the station’s entrance, are used as storage but they will be among parts of the site opened up for the walk.
Scott, who has worked at the station for 15 years, isn’t the only person who says he has seen unexplained happenings around the place. Standing in the staff room on platform four, fellow team leader Elaine Laverick, 37, said: “I think there’s a guy who comes and stands in the doorway. It’s pretty much every time I do a late shift.” Scott went on: “The girls who work in the cafe on platform four have said they had seen someone sitting in the back of the cafe by the fireplace, that was before it turned into Costa Coffee.
“A couple of years ago one of the British Transport Police guys had stayed on after we had gone home. It was quite late and he was on the phone to his wife when he saw a shadow going past the door.
“He told her he thought he had locked someone in the station so hung the phone up and went back to check. There was no one there. Another time, me and a colleague were moving some things into the cellar and we heard a bang and she absolutely screamed the place down!”
Asked whether he thought the station was haunted, Scott joked: “That’s up to you decide! I think there’s definitely something here.”
If the station is indeed haunted, there is no shortage of potential culprits.
In the 1800s, numerous deaths from horror accidents on the line near the station were recorded by historians and featured in local media.
And it was a time when public executions took place outside Lancaster Castle - just 300 yards from the station - where large crowds of spectators would greet ‘the hangman’.Medium Rob Fortune, who has appeared on TV’s Most Haunted, will lead the ghost walks, between 9pm and 2am. The plan is to hold talks and historical tours of the station the following day, November 2, with retired railwayman Brian Howson.
The cost of the event is £25 per person, which will fund new equipment at the cancer ward at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Jimmy Bond, a much-loved member of Lancaster’s Virgin Trains team until his death from leukemia aged 48 last year, was treated there.
Dare-devil ghost hunters are also being asked to gather sponsorship for taking part which will go to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Scott added: “Jimmy was a good friend to everybody and a popular character on the station.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place. Payment will be accepted on the night.