Category: Blog

Southend’s Most Haunted Locations

For the vast majority of people, they see Southend as the place with miles of award winning beaches, the world’s longest pier, and home to some of the best attractions in Essex. However, little do most people know that Southend is also home to a variety of haunted locations and heavily documented cases of paranormal phenomena.

We have explored what we feel are some of the most haunted locations in the area, so turn on all the lights, check behind the sofa and under the bed, then enjoy our exploration of Southend’s Most Haunted…

Shoeburyness Garrison

Formerly an army garrison town back in the 19th Century, it is now one of Southend’s most desirable residential areas, with beautiful sea views and £million homes. However, due to it’s location at the opening of the estuary, it has played a pivotal role in protecting Southend, the Thames and London for hundreds of years. As a result, it has a history of violence, blood and death.

Cases of paranormal activity on the Garrison include the appearance of unknown apparitions within mirrors, and an encounter in which someone reportedly was breathed on within their home (which eventually resulted in the individual moving out of the home in question). The Garrison is a truly fascinating location, certainly worth visiting to wander around the public grounds in the hope you may experience your very own sighting…if you’re brave enough!

Southend Pier

 

First constructed in 1830, it is the world’s longest pier, and most likely the world’s most haunted one as well. It is the jewel in Southend’s crown stretching out across miles of golden beaches and the Adventure Island Amusement Park. It has also been the supposed location for a number of suicides over the years, with individuals jumping from the pier end into the murky depths below – as a result, this has only fuelled stories of ghostly sightings.

In one particular incident in 1992, a policemen spotted a tall man wearing a long dark coat and gave chase towards the head of the pier, however upon nearing the area where the cultural centre now resides the man in question just vanished into thin air never to be seen again. Maybe he jumped off the pier, perhaps it was just in the imagination of the policemen, or perhaps it really was something from the other side…?

The Kursaal 

 

It was the World’s First Amusement Park, opened in 1901 and in its heyday was one of the most popular visitor destinations for not just Londoners but for people all over the UK. Sadly, with time it went into decline due to decreasing visitor numbers and closed. However, the main building still stands today containing a bowling alley and casino. Although a shadow of its former self it is still a popular attraction for locals and tourists.

Former security and cleaning staff of the Kursaal, have often spoke of sightings of a lady wearing a green coat who is attributed to a variety of unexplained events such as the music and lights being turning on by themselves, and an incident in which a security guard heard footsteps following him whilst on a night-shift. One apparent particular incident was that of a cleaner who was left in tears and distraught, after experiencing a frightening voice shout ‘leave me alone’ at her numerous times whilst she was alone cleaning an arcade machine. It may have been all the Fun of the Fair back in its heyday, but after we’ve read some of the stories of sightings we would say the term Fun of the Scare seems more appropriate.

Queensway Underpass 

 

Now, this we believe is urban myth more than anything, but it is still a ghastly tale that if true, is horrifying! To think, we are situated just 2 minutes from this…

Queensway Underpass is not exactly a ‘destination’ like the other places on this list, but it provides a service of being a key pedestrian route and also known to be the residence of the occasional homeless person in the colder months. Unfortunately, for one homeless gentleman this underpass became his final resting place. The story goes that a homeless man was seeking shelter one night, when a group of bullies walking through the underpass decided to attack the man and steal his blanket, sadly resulting in the gentleman’s death from hypothermia. An additional gruesome twist of the story, is that the gentleman’s face was then chewed off by rats whilst he lay dead on the floor.

Apparently, people have heard the sound of scratching on the walls, and others have seen a mutant ‘ratman’ in the tunnel. Whether true or false, it is a terrifying tale none the less and we will certainly be avoiding ‘ratmans tunnel’ of a night-time.

The Palace Theatre 

 

The Palace Theatre now part of the Southend Theatres Group, is the sister theatre to the Cliffs Pavilion. Originally opened in 1912, it has been a popular location for a variety of shows – in addition, it has also been the location of a number of paranormal investigations over the years.

A tale commonly told amongst staff and regular visitors of the theatre, involves that of a former manager called George. The story goes, that in 1912 the theatre was struggling financially after opening and due to stress George hung himself within the theatre. We have been unable to find any news articles to verify this, but according to numerous accounts, sightings have occurred in the form of individuals noticing a strong smell of tobacco (with smoking now illegal indoors in public spaces, this is particularly baffling) and others sensing the touch of a hand upon their shoulder whilst seated in the theatre. Whether it is in-fact George or not, such encounters strongly indicate the Palace Theatre is home to the paranormal…

To conclude…

Southend certainly is home to some truly spooky places, and these locations are just the tip of the iceberg – as we will be taking you deeper into Southend’s paranormal past in our all-new attraction that is opening in May 2017. The Séance is a theatrical experience that has been based on actual events, and puts you into the heart of a home infested by a poltergeist…this is an encounter that will test everything you know about the paranormal as well as your senses, nerves and bravery! Find out more here >>> www.hideandshriek.co.uk/theseance 

The Southend Werewolf ‘Bill Ramsey’…

A little known fact, is that Ed and Lorraine Warren (the inspiration for movies such as The Conjuring, Annabelle, Amityville Horror, etc) once visited Southend-on-Sea to investigate a tale that is regarded as one of the most perplexing demonic possessions of modern times…

Introducing, Bill Ramsey

 

William (Bill) Ramsey, from a young age, had been suffering from brief periods of behaviour that many described as ‘animal like’ normally these bouts would also be accompanied by an unusual smell. On one occasion,  Bill’s parents witnessed him rip a concrete post out of the ground and smash it directly in-front of them – this was the most severe incident during childhood, other bouts being more mild in comparison.

Bill’s behaviour gradually worsened into adulthood, and at breaking-point he admitted himself into Southend Hospital. Unfortunately, this visit to the hospital didn’t end well – with Bill attacking and biting a nurse, then ransacking the hospital before staff could fully sedate him. However, this incident was by no means the most shocking of Bill’s bouts…

A Night, to Remember

22nd July, 1987 – Bill picked up a local prostitute and drove her to Southend Police Station, where he demanded to officers that he be locked up for the safety of the public. The Police officers, looking further into Bill could find no criminal history, so were reluctant to arrest him for no real reason. Suddenly, Bill began to growl and snarl like a rabid animal at Duty Sergeant Terry Fisher, Bill then grabbed Fisher by the throat hoisting the 6ft tall, 14 stone policeman into the air and then launching him across the car park. Another police officer was scratched in the altercation, it ultimately took six men to finally restrain Bill who had not gone down without a struggle reportedly throwing officers ‘like matchsticks’ across the station car park.

Safely locked up into a cell, officers began to recover from the struggle only to hear a loud bang coming from within the cell block. Bill, incredibly, had smashed through the re-enforced hatch in his cell door with his head and arm stuck through, PC Tony Belford stated ‘I’ve never seen anything like it before or since, to see a human being doing things like that’. Police had to sedate Bill, he required a dose nearly three times the amount of an average person to calm him. The Fire Brigade then had to be called to cut Bill out of the cell door.

Southend Magistrates ordered Bill to be sent to Runwell Hospital for psychiatric examination, to try and identify the cause for such terrifying behaviour. Once in the hospital under evaluation, Bill was unable to recollect any of the nights events. Psychiatrists were unable to detect anything to explain Bill’s behaviour, they could only assume he may suffer from a mental illness known as clinical lycanthropy, in which people believe they are an animal. However, after much media coverage of the incident dubbing Bill as the ‘Werewolf of Southend’, a famous duo of paranormal investigators had another explanation…

The Warrens

Ed and Lorraine Warren are highly regarded as the most prolific paranormal investigators in the world, handling a number of high-profile paranormal cases that have inspired countless movies, books and documentaries.

Lorraine Warren discovered the story of Bill Ramsay from an american documentary covering the case,  she concluded that Bill Ramsey was suffering as a result of a demonic possession. Lorraine convinced Ed, who at first was skeptical (he later wrote an entire book on the case), to make contact with Bill to provide assistance.

The Exorcism

28th July, 1989 – Bill had travelled to Connecticut USA, to meet with the Warrens. He was eventually taken to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel, in which a bishop (accompanied by the Warrens and two armed guards) conducted an exorcism on Bill Ramsey.

As the exorcism commenced, Bill began to ‘turn’ with witnesses and photographs clearly detailing Bill having to be physically restrained whilst his hands and body contorted as he growled at the bishop. When Bill eventually came round, he was exhausted and covered in sweat – however, since that day he has never experienced any such behaviour again.

To conclude…

Whether a case of lycanthropy,  or genuine demonic possession, these events have left many individuals perplexed and disturbed. Its association with the Warrens certainly gives the case a lot more credibility, and it is regarded by many as the only true modern-day case of a ‘werewolf’.

Learn More about Southend’s Dark Paranormal History, in our Brand New Attraction – The Séance, prepare for an encounter of the terrifying kind…

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Halloween Events in Essex and London, our Top Tips!

 

Halloween is fast-approaching, and if you’re fan of the spooky season then there is no better time to start planning what to do than now. Fright Nights, Scream Parks, Halloween Events, and Pop-Up Attractions will appear in their droves in about three months time, with the selection increasing each year. However, there are some other alternatives which we delve into below along with a few of our insider top tips to ensure a truly memorable and safe Halloween.

Home Haunts

What’s a home haunt? Well, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. These are haunted experiences that people host at their homes (normally in their front garden or garage). A bit like those incredible house displays at Christmas with lots of lights, but instead they decorate their homes with smoke, tombstones, lights, and pumpkins to create a Trick or Treat paradise (or nightmare).

Normally, they are run for fun as the home owner just loves Halloween, sometimes a charity is selected with proceeds of a small ticket fee going to help raise much deserved cash. Either way, they are great fun for the whole family and help get everyone in the spooky spirit (pun intended).

Home Haunts are now growing in popularity in the UK, with more popping up each year – so why not go along and support your local home haunter? If you do not have one, then why not start one yourself? Either way, it is fantastic fun!

Year-Round Scare Attractions/Experiences

 

Getting scared is no longer a seasonal business, there are many places that are now open year-round with the sole trade of giving you a good fright…us included! As these businesses are open-year round, generally they have perfected their craft of scare (otherwise they wouldn’t be able to survive a full year) so you can be sure of a fantastic time. It is important not to forget about these attractions when events pop-up at Halloween, as they often have a lot of advantages to the bigger events – even if they’re smaller on scale, for example;

– No Queues, unlike the large events where you will spend the majority of your time standing in a queue – permanent attractions mostly operate on a time-slot entry, so you just book a time then turn up and walk-in.

– They’re Indoors, that October weather isn’t famous for being hot and dry, so a permanent indoor scare attraction will save the worry of your Halloween celebrations being ruined by the British weather.

– Better Connected, permanent scare attractions are normally located in town and city centres, so are a lot easier to commute to on public transport. It also means if you want to continue the Halloween celebrations at a local bar, restaurant, casino or club…you can, with ease!

– More Choice, as they are normally open 7 days a week, unlike the big pop-up events that run for select nights. Meaning if you work a night shift, or have to look after the family pet in the evening, you don’t have to miss out on the celebrations, yipeee!

Here’s a few permanent Scare Attractions in the Essex/London area worth checking out, each offering something very different and thrilling that you won’t find at the Scream Parks or Fright Nights;

– Hide and Shriek (that’s us, woo!)

– The London Bridge Experience and London Tombs

– London Dungeons

– The Last Survivors Zombie Experience

Top Tips

So you want to start planning for Halloween? Well, here are our Top Tips for an awesome Halloween;

– Book Early! A lot of Halloween Events, Fright Nights and Attractions, offer Early Bird discounts if you’re open to booking several months in advance. So be sure to follow their social media channels, and get those tickets booked early to save £££.

– Visit Early! It may seem simple, but visit the events early October when they’re quieter (tickets are often cheaper as well), you will spend less time queuing and more time being scared. Alternatively, visit one of the year-round attractions that work on time-slot entry, and avoid the queues entirely.  

– Back to Front! If visiting one of the Halloween Events, Fright Nights or Scream Parks, get there for opening and head straight to the furthest attraction away – then work your way back to the front of the event. Normally people will go straight to the nearest attractions, meaning long queues at the front half of the event at the beginning then long queues at the back half near to the end. Alternatively, visit one of the year-round attractions that work on time-slot entry, and avoid the queues entirely.  

– Dress Appropriately! If you’re visiting an outdoor event, do dress accordingly – the weather can rapidly change in October, with downpours and strong winds a high possibility. Alternatively, visit one of the year-round attractions that are located indoors. 

– Immerse Yourself! Like reading a book, the words and content may be there, but it involves your imagination to really succumb to the fear of it all. So switch off and allow yourself to be overcome with fear, you’ll have a much better time than those that do not.

Conclusion

So that’s a wrap on another Hide and Shriek blog, we hope that it has proved insightful and helpful in planning your upcoming Halloween. Don’t forget, we are open year-round, and with us being the only Scare Attraction ranked in the Top 5 Activities in Essex on TripAdvisor, you are assured to have a frightfully good time with us. So if you haven’t visited before, why not click here and book your tickets to one of our terrifying experiences today?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Cowscorge LTD (trading as Hide and Shriek).