Jonathan Schofield on strange goings on at derelict Manchester railway station
GHOSTS. Right. Do you believe in them?
I’ve always been beyond sceptical. If you look at the tradition of Newton and Darwin and all that weight of science it’s hard to really believe in the spirit world.
This may seem odd for me to say, given I frequently conduct ghost tours around Manchester, but to me there is no contradiction. I love the story-telling nature of good ghost stories and Manchester has some excellent ones, full of drama, emotion, love and, obviously, death. Big, grand stories in which you can have a little fun with effects and surprises, especially in the lonely dark places of the city.
...suddenly there was this person on the image
On recent tours of Mayfield Station, though, something curious has been happening. We’ve been visited. On Sunday 2 September, talented photographercleverly got ahead of the tour group in the west depot of this vast, derelict and soon-to-be redeveloped former railway station next to Piccadilly Station. She took a photo of the huge empty space extending ahead of her.
“I was looking through the pictures later,” says Lottie, “and was about to discard one image when I noticed something which suggested a figure. I then exposed the area to see what it was. There was nobody in front of me when this picture was taken, nobody on the tour, but suddenly there was this person on the image.”
It was the figure of a young woman dressed in maybe sixties or early seventies garb, three-quarters turned away from the camera. It’s spooky, sends a shiver down your spine, yet it is compelling too. The more you look the more you want to learn about her. You can’t help wondering about her face and what she looks like.
Or even, what the bloody hell is going on here.
Below is a picture of the group outside Mayfield, with no-one resembling the woman in the image.
This instance follows on from another. I had a guest a few weeks ago who introduced himself as a psychic medium. His name was Lee and he was a charming man accompanied by his partner, Laura.
...this one was troubled and angry
On the tour Lee claimed he had felt a couple of spirits. On the station platform levels he identified a man in a boiler suit who had died in 1968 and had been pacing the central platform ever since. Apparently, this ghost was a gentle sort. Of course, nobody else in the group sensed him. More worryingly though, in the gloom of the depot, Lee identified another spirit, but this one was troubled and angry.
A couple of weeks later Lee and his partner booked themselves on the tour again. They wanted to free the spirits so they could leave for wherever spirits usually go. Afterwards Lee, who apparently has this talent for liberating ghosts, wrote to me: ‘The spirit on the platforms was happy to leave and is now back with his wife and children.’
That’s sweet, I thought.
He then wrote: ‘In the depot there was a spirit in the arches who was unhappy at me for asking him if he wanted to leave. Sometimes when a spirit is unhappy with something it can leave marks on you. I’m home now and Laura has noticed scratch marks on my back. This is not the first time this has happened to me but it all adds to the evidence.’
I have to say that in all my years of guiding Manchester nobody has shown me a picture of their naked back before (see below).
Anyway, you decide for yourself. Odd things happen, it is true. I remain to be convinced about the supernatural but the picture of the young lady stood timelessly still is compelling. So are Lee's scars, in a less eyewitness kind of way.
I have looked and can’t find in the archive or historical record of Mayfield any mysterious deaths or instances that might explain these goings on. There are just the images.
Yet, I remain a sceptic. Maybe for a sceptic, seeing is not believing.