After years of attempts by the Sixth Sense Ghost Hunters to encourage Guardian reporter KAY TAYLOR to take a spooky tour with them, she was finally persuaded.
Here’s her account of what happened ....
Sitting around a Ouija board in a pitch black museum, communicating with a fireman spirit called Mal, is not my usual idea of a good Saturday night.
Somehow I’d found myself taking part in a ghost hunt at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland, and the night wasn’t going as expected.
I was never any good at science at school (or French or maths for that matter), but I’ve always leaned more towards a scientific way of thinking rather than believing in the supernatural.
Saying that though, I’d never been tempted to push my luck or try to prove myself wrong by going on a ghost hunt in the dead of the night either.
So admittedly it took Ian Wood of the Sixth Sense Ghost Hunters a few years to persuade me to join him on one of his trips to the vehicle museum with a view to writing this feature.
The team, who travel the UK to communicate with the dead, are regular visitors to both the vehicle museum and Astley Hall in Chorley, and I would have thought Astley Hall would be much more suitable for this kind of thing.
But, I’m told, the old Leyland Motors building in King Street is one of the most haunted places in Britain, so it was worth a visit.
My party of four arrived at 8pm and the evening started with a talk by Ian about the previous ghostly happenings they’d experienced there.
A former Leyland Motors worker called Alfie now resides in one corner of the museum, and is known for taking an interest in the ladies.
He didn’t make an obvious appearance on the night we visited, although standing in his corner, some of the 40 or so people who signed up for the event did announce they felt a breeze here, or heard a noise there.
To be honest, I still wasn’t convinced. That museum is known for being cold – there’s no heating system – and it was 9pm on a blustery October night.
Plus, it’s an old building, so there are bound to creaks and other types of noises if you listen carefully enough.
Before all that though, we had to take part in a type of meditation to allow the ‘good spirits’ into our lives, and help keep us safe throughout the experience.
Ian talked us through a scenario which we had to picture in our minds, which started off sitting on a bench looking out to the sea. (I won’t tell you the rest, in case it is all true and you end up letting the spirits in too!)
So off we went to Alfie’s corner, but despite the team ‘calling out’ to him to make himself known, by touching someone on the shoulder or ringing a fire bell on one of the old fire engines in the museum, nothing really happened.
Next, we were split into groups of eight and for the rest of the night we made our way round the different Ouija boards around the building.
At the first table, our group saw a bit of action when the cup moved slightly in one direction and then another.
But I wasn’t convinced that wasn’t just one of our group members testing to see if they could move it without being caught out.
The next table was a bit more exciting, with the spirit in that area taking its time to get involved, but eventually moving the cup round the board slowly, and in particular ‘pointing’ towards one of our group.
He’d told us he’d been on one of the trips to Astley Hall, which sounded very eventful, so he enjoyed getting involved and asking questions of the spirit without the help of the guide.
Absolutely nothing happened at the third table, but it was the fourth and final board where we were introduced to Mal the fireman.
The cup started moving quite soon after we sat down, in a circular motion, until one of the group asked the spirit to spell its name for us, so it moved to M, then A, and L.
When asked if he knew any of the people sat at the table the cup moved towards ‘NO’, and then there was a list of occupations which followed, such as ‘Did you work at Leyland Motors?’ with the end result being that he was a fireman.
I did quite enjoy the experience, and didn’t feel scared or worried at any point, but I must confess I’m still not a believer.
I can see why people get into this kind of thing, and maybe there are spirits out there, and maybe they were communicating with us, but I just couldn’t get on board with it myself.
I can’t help but think that in the pitch black, someone on our table could easily have moved that cup.
At around 2am, we were then all ‘relieved of the spirits’ in a group meditation so as not to accidently take any home with us, and the team asked for some feedback.
Everyone had a really good time and every group saw some movement on the Ouija boards.
One group even witnessed a couple of chairs being broken nearby apparently, although I do not know any more details of it.
I’m glad I went along – it’s certainly made for good conversations with my friends – but I’m afraid the sceptic in me just isn’t convinced there is an afterlife.
But who knows?