Lancashire ghosts…

Lancaster place name linked to the local gallows. Pic courtesy of Salem Congregational Church, Martin Top

I picked up a copy of a local news/advertising magazine (Lancaster District) the other day, mostly because it had some interesting walks in it. An added bonus was a whole page of ghostly places to visit, scattered in and around the ancient city of Lancaster.

This former county town was for hundreds of years home to both law courts and gallows and many hundreds of unfortunate souls were put on trial and hanged here, so it’s hardly surprising if there are a good few ghost stories linked to it. Sure enough, Lancaster Castle (seat of the courts, and of executions post-1800) is on the magazine’s list, as is Gallows Hill, which now houses Williamson Park and the eye-catching local landmark of the Ashton Memorial, but was the site of the town’s gallows before it was moved to the Castle. The nearby hamlet of Golgotha is named after this grisly location; nowadays it’s a pretty collection of old cottages that look old enough to house a ghost or three themselves.

Also on the list are a couple of theatrical locations – Lancaster’s Grand Theatre, and the Winter Gardens in nearby Morecambe. The magazine mentions a former seamstress at the latter, who died without ever realising her ambition to ‘tread the boards’, as well as the spirits of former performers at the Grand Theatre. I’m always surprised how many theatres are said to be haunted, given that they were places of entertainment rather than execution. Perhaps it says something about the unhappy nature of the acting profession over the centuries!

Last on the list are a couple of sites associated with the old Settle to Carlisle railway line: Blea Moor signal box, and Ribblehead Viaduct. I can imagine the latter being haunted by some of the 100-plus workmen who died constructing it, but the signal box is more of a surprise. The magazine’s jocular tone doesn’t give much away, but according to the Network Rail website it’s the most remote signal box in Britain so perhaps it’s to be expected that it has a few creepy tales associated with it. And who knows, maybe the rumours provided Charles Dickens with the inspiration for his famous ghost story The Signal-Man!

Do you know of any more ghost stories associated with this large and ancient county? I’m sure there are loads, but it was a treat to find this list in such an unexpected place.

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