“Do you believe in ghosts?”
James, our guide for the night, scanned the faces of the 40 or so anxious looking individuals, gathered ready for a ghost hunt in Newsham Park Hospital.
Even the sceptics amongst us couldn’t help but admit that there was something definitely eerie about the abandoned crumbling redbrick Victorian building. At 10 pm, the light of the summer evening was fading fast. Grey shadows cast themselves against the few remaining pieces of furniture in what was once a large dining hall. Yellowing paint desperately peeled itself away from the walls and cracks crept their way across the high ceilings above.
I shivered despite the warm air. Excited and nervous; my stomach was in knots.
- 1 Early Ghost Hunting
- 2 The History of Newsham Park Hospital
- 3 So, What Exactly is a Ghost Hunt in Newsham Park Hospital?
- 4 We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt
- 5 So, Do You Believe in Ghosts?
- 6 [VIDEO] What Happens on a Ghost Hunt in Newsham Park Hospital
Early Ghost Hunting
I’ve been fascinated by the supernatural for as long as I can remember. One of my favourite books growing up was my older brother’s dog-eared copy of the Usborne Guide to The Supernatural World, and we created the imaginatively titled Ghost Club together, complete with membership cards. In fact, I’m pretty sure my Dad still carries his around with him in his wallet!
We were never very successful in hunting down any spooky beings in our Ghost Club. Perhaps we were looking in all the wrong places.
But the more I sat and listened to James and the ghost hunting crew talk about the history of Newsham Park Hospital, the more certain I felt that approximately 28 years after its establishment, Ghost Club was about to find its first ghoul.
The History of Newsham Park Hospital
This imposing building started life as an orphanage in 1874 with the purpose of rehoming and educating the orphans of British seamen. By 1918, following the First World War, more than 1000 children were housed within its brick walls. By all accounts, in the early days, conditions were harsh and matrons ruled with an iron fist, making for quite a miserable existence for those who had no choice but to live there.
By July 1949, financial difficulties saw the closure of the orphanage and the remaining children moved elsewhere. The property was sold to the Ministry of Health and reopened as Newsham Park Hospital in 1954. It remained as a hospital for the next 43 years, although officially stopped taking new patients in 1988, and finally closed its doors in 1992.
However, things weren’t over quite yet for the sprawling Victorian build. The closure of Newsham Park Hospital in 1992 coincided with the closure of the nearby Rainhill Lunatic Asylum. As a result, over one million pounds was spent developing Newsham Park Hospital and patients from the asylum were repatriated onto the site.
After 5 more years as a specialist psychiatric hospital, the end finally came in 1997 when the last patients and staff vacated the premises for good. Since then, plans to convert the enormous space into flats have fallen flat and the building has sadly fallen into disrepair.
Stories of ghostly sightings, strange noises, sudden temperature changes and reports of people being pushed or clothes being tugged are legendary. So much so, that TV crews from far and wide have filmed ghost hunts in Newsham Park Hospital, hoping to catch some kind of supernatural activity on camera.
This huge old orphanage come hospital, situated in a grand Liverpool city park, is thought to be one of Liverpool’s most haunted buildings.
Perfect location then, for my first ever ghost hunt.
So, What Exactly is a Ghost Hunt in Newsham Park Hospital?
Despite feeling an interesting mix of anxiety and anticipation, I really had no idea what we were in store for. How do you actually ‘hunt’ down a ghost? And what happens if you hunt down a particularly angry ghost? What then?
James gave us a quick rundown of the different ghost hunting tools we’d be using throughout the night. They ranged from cheap cat toys to more hi-tech options like radio transmitters and K2 meters.
Oh, and of course it wouldn’t be a ghost hunt without a Ouija Board, would it?
Any hopes of safety in numbers were quickly dashed as we were split into smaller groups of around 10 people. Thankfully, they weren’t so cruel as to split us up from our friends, but they were keen to make sure that all the sceptics didn’t end up together in the same group. Too many sceptics makes for ‘bad energy’ apparently.
The night was organised around different ghost hunting methods in various parts of the hospital building. The small groups of ghost hunters rotated around each ghost hunting station, and each activity was led by a different member of the ghost hunting team. In between activities, we returned to the main dining hall for coffee and snacks and, if you were brave enough, there was even time set aside for you to explore the hospital grounds on your own.
We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt
So, did we see any ghosts?
Did we connect with any spiritual beings?
Which ghost hunting methods were the most effective?
Read on and I will reveal all…
And if you want to have a sneaky peek inside the hospital, there’s a spooky video waiting for you at the end of this post too.
The Circle of Energy
There was a lot of focus on increasing the energy in a room to allow to the spirits to use the force and make contact. This either took the form of rubbing your hands hard together to create friction and warmth, or joining hands in a circle to form a collective energy. Plus, if you’re holding hands with the people next to you and something brushes past your shoulder, well… you know it can’t possibly be any of your fellow ghost hunters…. can it?
The first time we tried sparking up our own energy was in the Bell Tower, a place where someone is once said to have hanged themselves. With the torches off, the room was pitch black. I waited for my eyes to adjust but it became apparent that no amount of squinting or straining was going to help my eyes cut through the darkness.
Forming our circle and joining hands, we listened whilst our guide called out to any spirits lurking in the gloom. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen Most Haunted or any such programme on the TV where Derek Acorah tires to talk to ghosts, but this experience wasn’t too far removed from that. There was lots of:
“Hello, spirits! I’ve brought a new group to meet you tonight. If you’d like to, maybe you could make a noise to let us know you’re here?”
The attempts were met with a deafening *silence.*
Thinking that our spirit friends may like to get to know us a little better before coming out to spook us, we were encouraged to go round the circle and introduce ourselves.
Still holding hands, still in complete darkness, off we all went, one by one, speaking into the silence, telling any shy spirits who’d listen, our names and how we’d really, truly love it if they could just pop by and say hello.
Halfway through the introductions, there was a scream to my right. Someone had felt something hit the back of their leg. Excitedly, our guide told us that this could be the spirit of a mischievous child from the days of the orphanage. Child spirits, being small, like to tap legs or pull on clothing to gain attention.
Encouraged, we continued around the circle, but it wasn’t long before another ghostly presence made itself known. This time it was a man opposite who shouted out that someone or something had just pushed into his shoulder. There were also talks of temperature changes in the room, but to be honest, I couldn’t really detect anything.
Little else happened in the Bell Tower after that, and I’ve got to admit that I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t had a shove from a spirit. But the night was still young, and as I discovered, there was still plenty of time for more weirdness to occur.
Flashing Cat Toys
With the exception of the Ouija Board, the flashing cat toys were probably the most successful ghost hunting tool of the night.
We used them on a couple of occasions. The first time we set them up in the so-called ‘Naughty Boys Corridor,’ together with the K2 meters, and nothing much happened. The second time, however, down in the basement laundry room, they lit the place up like a disco ball.
The laundry room was a pretty creepy place anyway, regardless of any ghostly activity. A mannequin leftover from its time as a working launderette, for some reason, looked quite sinister looming out of the darkness when struck with torchlight. And I’m not sure why there was a naked, expressionless doll sitting stark upright on a metal trolley. As if we weren’t already on edge enough!
Joining together to create a circle of energy, our guide called out for any spirits to use the light of the cat toys to let us know of their presence. I was just starting to lose interest when the light flickered for the first time. With every question that followed, the light flashed excitedly, casting a multicoloured glow into the darkened room. Designed to be triggered by motion, it was unclear what could be causing the toy to flash so erratically, so far away from the group on the other side of the room….
As I mentioned earlier, we used this gadget up in the Naughty Boys Corridor. A somewhat tragic place, this narrow corridor is lined with rows of tiny cupboards on either side, and was apparently where ‘naughty’ boys were locked up as punishment during the days of the orphanage. It is thought that a young boy once died whilst locked up behind one of these doors.
Nothing ghostly happened in this corridor, despite using both the flashing cat toys and K2 meters to detect any spiritual presence. Even so, it was difficult not to feel a sense of sorrow due to the suffering that had occurred in this very place all those years before. We climbed into one of the cupboards to get a sense of what it would have been like for the poor little boys. Dark, cramped and lonely, I can’t even begin to imagine the psychological impact of being locked, helpless and hungry, in such a tight space for any length of time.
We traipsed up through the floors of the hospital using the winding staircase, lit only by the light from our torches. Metal suicide grills lined the stairs, an upsetting necessity left over from its time as a specialist psychiatric hospital.
Into the psychiatric ward, we somewhat disturbingly saw the room where electric shock treatment was once carried out; the bed where patients lay as they received the treatment still present in the room.
Our guide led us into a small side room. The door closed behind us, shutting out any light source from the windows in the rest of the bay. You’d think we’d be used to the dark by now, but there was something about this room that made me feel a little uneasy. Our guide explained that it was in this part of the hospital that many people had experienced an unpleasant feeling. Something evil perhaps?
The air in the room was warm; warmer than it had been anywhere else in the building, and I could feel my cheeks flush in the darkness.
Our small group stood spaced out around the perimeter of the room, and a radio transmitter was placed in the middle. The transmitter emitted loud static noise; a harsh, uncomfortable sound which seemed to fill every corner of the room. Apparently, spirits can sometimes use transmitters to send through spoken messages. Despite my curiosity, this was the first time that evening that I felt certain I did not want any messages sent our way.
Thankfully, after a good few minutes of listening to the unpleasant sound, the battery died in the transmitter and it faded into silence. I can honestly say I wasn’t sorry.
I’ve never used a Ouija Board before. It’s always been one of those things that’s both fascinated and frightened me in equal measures. Also, until now, I’d never actually seen one in real life.
There was absolutely no pressure to take part in the Ouija Board, and a few of our small group decided that it definitely wasn’t for them. The remaining 7 of us set up around a table in one of the abandoned wards.
The problem with doing a Ouija Board with people you don’t know, is that you never truly know if someone is actually pushing the counter (called a planchette) on purpose.
So, did anything happen?
Our group of seven made contact with a 7-year-old girl who identified herself as UU. We tried to ask ‘Little U’ to spell out her name for us, but were advised by our guide that often, younger children from the orphanage couldn’t read or write. We didn’t get much further.
Weirdly, when the planchette started moving across the board, I suddenly found the whole thing hilarious and I found myself fighting the urge to burst into fits of laughter! Not really the reaction I thought I’d have to the Ouija Board. I can only imagine it was my anxiety showing itself in unusual ways!
Later, when we were given free time to roam the hospital grounds alone, three of us decided to go back to the same spot with a Ouija Board to have another go. This time, doing it only with friends, we thought we could be sure that if the planchette moved, it was definitely moving of its own accord.
We found ourselves communicating with FQ – a 43-year-old man who was a member of staff at the hospital. He told us he was married and that he enjoyed speaking with us ghost hunters. At one point in our ‘conversation,’ FQ went a little quiet. We asked him to make a sound if he was still there; a request that was immediately followed by a loud bang at the other end of the ward.
By the time we got round to table tipping, it was getting on for 3:00 am and we were really starting to flag.
Yes, the table tipped, but I can’t honestly say that this wasn’t just due to the 10 of us crowding around a small picnic table and collectively pushing it over. Delirious with fatigue, things got hilariously frantic as our guide suggested we shout words of encouragement to the spirits and (a bit weirdly) sing ‘Ring a Ring a Roses’ (strangely sinister sounding in a haunted setting). Finally, the table came crashing to the floor.
So, Do You Believe in Ghosts?
Regardless of anything supernatural, it’s pretty amazing to be able to explore such an impressive building. Much of the old signage from its days as a hospital still exists and some of the wards are still set out as they once were. The locker room remains with names of ex-staff still etched onto locker doors, and old wheelchairs and commodes litter the corridors. It really is like everyone just walked out one day and never returned.
There’s no denying that the setting for the ghost hunt is truly fantastic. A huge, derelict, intimidating building steeped in such a rich history; if there are going to be ghosts anywhere, you’d definitely expect to find them there.
So, do I believe in ghosts?
Well, whilst I didn’t come face to face with a phantom (although some of the group claim they did!), there were definitely some weird moments. Put it this way, my night in the haunted hospital has done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the supernatural and I can’t honestly say that I don’t believe in ghosts. I guess there are some things we really just can’t explain.
[VIDEO] What Happens on a Ghost Hunt in Newsham Park Hospital
Want a peek inside Newsham Park Hospital? Watch this video!
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Would you go on a ghost hunt? Let me know in the comments!