Saturday, 30 October 2010

Wirral's MOST haunted library

I love the way the publicity for Wirral Bookfest described my branch - Wallasey Central Library - as 'Wirral's MOST haunted library'. It implies all the others are just slightly haunted, or at most averagely.

So we had famous horror author Ramsey Campbell - he's local - to give a talk and offered the added enticement of a spooky backdrop and a 'ghost' tour of the premises along with a history of the building.

I'd turned up (on my night off) because I was interested in Ramsey Campbell's writing life and tips, but the group was divided in two and one half had the tour while the other half asked questions. I'd been roped in to 'make sure everyone who started on the tour finished it' upstairs. So I missed all the questions. 

Did I mention the library I work in is haunted? There are stories of strange noises, doors opening, an exorcism that not only failed to get rid of restless spirits, but may have enticed some more out of the graveyard next door! 

The tour was given in the spookiest upstairs corridor by our rather severe reference librarian. She told us about the caretaker who hung himself there, and of another, more documented, tragedy: a live-in caretaker spent many years there but when he was widowed the powers-that-be wanted a married couple to do the job and moved him to a smaller branch. Having lost his wife, his benefits and his home, he was heart-broken. He moved in with his son and daughter-in-law. One day they found a note from him on the table. Rushing upstairs they found him lying on the floor of his room in pools of blood. He had slit his own throat.

The first floor corridor we were in - which links the main library with the junior library - was known, she said, for strange 'feelings' - a bone-numbing cold, the sense of not being alone, the committee room door that keeps opening when there are people inside, but never when there aren't.

I go along it to the staff room on a regular basis and nothing has ever tingled my spine or curdled my blood, but after hearing the sorry tales of  hangings, throat slittings, mysterious footsteps etc, I was left in the corridor on my own in the dark to wait for the next group. 

Then I heard footsteps. 

It's a rambling old building, the floor changes level, the corridors aren't straight. There's a winding stone staircase that leads up from an untrammelled part of the ground floor to the floor I was on and then up to the turret. (Yes, we have a turret.)  The footsteps were coming up the stairs. The sound stopped for a second, a pause at the top of the stairs, and then continued towards me. A slow, steady tread. I couldn't see who it was because the corridor is crooked. And we'd turned the lights out earlier for 'effect'. I felt a chill. The footsteps came closer...

... it was my colleague Jane on her way back to the ladies!


On the plus side, I bumped into a chap whose creative writing evening classes I used to go to in that very building, some (ahem) years ago. That isn't him in the picture - it's me getting into the 'spirit' of things.

So there you go - it is clearly Wirral's MOST haunted library - it stirred up ghosts for me!


  1. Well I'm NEVER coming to Wirral library with a history like that - I'm easily spooked as it is!

    Ours is merely haunted by the spirits of old ladies looking for Catherine Cookson novels ...

  2. Glad I read this before starting on the wine - graceless snorting etc.

    That green tablecloth: it just makes the tableau!

    I used to love being last in the library at night, putting out the lights, locking up. I was never spooked. The scariest moments were in broad daylight when we were open.

  3. Aw I was all excited then thinking you'd seen a ghostie, hehe. What a tragic history in that library. I agree with Christine, it's the living souls you have to worry about!
    Sorry you missed the questions though, how annoying!

  4. The place where I used to work, was used as a military hospital during WW1. Inevitably, there are tales of spooky goings-on in certain quarters of the building (and I'm not talking about senior managers). The Hartley Library is an impressive building, with the stock housed on five floors. No turret, though.

  5. Pretty ghoulish stories from the reference librarian, and, of course, there's no one like a reference librarian for full possession of the facts! Sorry you missed out on the Q&A with the author--seems only fair that should be a perk!

  6. Sounds like a fun place to visit and keep the reading fires alive.

  7. Hi CG - hope you enjoyed you week off. Should I have put a picture credit in here? Happy to do so.

    Karen - It isn't that spooky really... it was just in the atmosphere created!

    Christine - Scariest moments when you were open?!! Now I'm doing some graceless snorting of my own. The tableau did look good didn't it? team effort!

    penandpaints - sorry to disappoint! I'd have quite liked to have seen something... I think!

    Martin - I imagine that building would have been a bit creepy - so big and with its history. I was reading somewhere (you?) or talking to someone recently who worked in a medical library and used to have professors come in and ask them to source 'the most gruesome pictures of early surgery' they could find. That would creep me out in that sort of environment.

    Rainy - Well, I ended up getting paid because I was working, so I'm over it!

    Paul - It's actually a lovely building - which doesn't really come across in this post - I'll do more about it for our centenary next year.

  8. I've read this post three times over the last couple of days, and I cann't find a thing to say.

    Could you slip in the odd typo for me in future, please?

  9. Whooo-oooo. What a spooky library! I've worked in lots of hospitals and often people tell you about ghosts that are supposed to haunt them, but I've never seen anything in any place I've worked. I almost wish I had.

  10. I love the description of your library! Awesome post.

  11. Dave - You disappoint me. There were at lest three until I corretced them this moaning! Must try hoarder.

    Joanne - I imagine they would be a mixed 'blessing'! I wonder if it would lead to more or fewer borrowers?

    Ellie - Thank you kindly - sorry about the absence of zombies for you!