The Morecambe Winter Gardens was originally built as the Victoria Pavilion Theatre in 1897. It was to be an addition to the already existing Winter Gardens complex, which has been completely demolished ever since. The original complex has a ballroom, bars and seawater baths. Some of the building’s original parts can still be seen today. In 1977, the theatre closed to the public because of declining profits and a campaign for the building’s restoration has been going on since 1986.
Moss Empires took over the Winter Gardens in the 1950s, however, it closed in 1977 and the ballroom was finally demolished in 1982. A group called The Friends of the Winter Gardens was created in 1986 with the intent of campaigning for the preservation and restoration of the Winter Gardens. A charitable trust company called The Morecambe Winter Gardens Preservation Trust was established in 2006 with the garden’s best interest in mind.
The city council of Lancaster applied for a grant from the government in 2009. The grant money was to be used for the refurbishment of Morecambe Winter Gardens, however, the group’s bid was unsuccessful.
Ghosts of Morecambe Winter Gardens
It is said that the stage in the main auditorium is one of the most haunted places in the Gardens. People on one side of the stage are sometimes pushed, slapped, poked and harassed by an unseen force. The ghost of a seamstress who aspired to one day become a professional dancer and failed to achieve that most elusive fame is said to still haunt one of the dressing rooms of the auditorium. There are also other ghosts in the bar and in the many stairwells.
Shadows have been seen moving across the stage and several people have reported at the same time seeing a man on various occasions. From the higher area of the theatre, it is said that the ghostly shadow of a young boy can be often seen running across the side of the theatre.
Several paranormal investigators who have been to the building reported that they were able to record several EVP’s or electronic voice phenomenon. They have also reported seeing footprints in areas of the building where nobody has been, as well as hearing strange sounds and voices.
People have said that while they were in the building they could hear footsteps following them around, as well as the sound of men howling in torment.