Smelting Pot

Moira Furnace

front of the engine house

Shenanigans, inappropriateness and people getting injured. It could only be Calamityville Horror. We were invited to spend the entire night at Moira Furnace by our FB friend, Helena and her team, Boleyn Paranormal. Neen was meant to still be working on Galavant, so we decided to go alone. Turned out Galavant finished early. Balls. Anyhoo, we set off Saturday afternoon, later than we intended leaving, which is becoming our trademark. And yet we arrived on time. Yes. On. Time. At half past four exactly. The time we said we’d be there. Then we spent half an hour trying to find a way in. There were only a few places where we could get phone signal – parts of the woods, the loading bay and by the toilet in the engine house. We failed to break in then eventually managed to find phone signal and rang Helena.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

Moira Furnace was built in 1789 by Francis Rawdon Hastings, who later became the 2nd Earl of Moira, after he inherited land in Ashby Woulds. He recognised the potential of the area’s coal and iron ore deposits and began developing it. In 1792, a company was formed to build a 30 mile canal to link the Woulds with the main canal network. The first coal mine was sunk in 1804, a lime kiln was built and construction started on the iron-making blast furnace. It was brought to blast in 1806 and closed in 1811, due to some features not being successful as it was a period of blast furnace development.

Moira Furnace

engine house

A foundry making iron castings continued functioning for another 30 years. Moira Furnace was converted into housing for the mining community. In the 1850s there were three families living there. Also in the 1850s, the foundry and lime kilns closed, ending industrial activity, except for coal and clay extraction. The canal was abandoned in the 1940s due to railway competition and mining subsidence and filled in. The last residents moved out of the Furnace buildings in the 1970s and coal mining finally stopped in the 1980s.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

The foundry was demolished in the 19th century, but the bridgehouse and engine house were converted to dwellings. By the time the families moved out in the ‘70s, the dwellings had become derelict and the engine house was demolished. The bridgehouse and furnace were scheduled as ancient moments after pressure from Philip Riden and the Leicestershire Industrial Historical Society.

Moira FurnaceMoira Furnace is one of the few remaining blast furnaces from this period because it was a commercial failure. If it had been successful, it more than likely would have led to the site being developed and the furnace replaced. Documents mention bad management, construction, raw materials and design, but many of the documents were written by people who were trying to deflect blame from themselves. When the furnace was abandoned, its final charge was still inside, partially smelted. A high sulphur count was detected in the raw materials, which may have contributed to the failing, as well as a design fault or operating problem in the chimney, which led it to overheat.

Moira Furnace

engine house

Staff, visitors and paranormal investigators report feeling unwell in certain parts of the building, shadows are seen, people are touched and screams are heard from the bridgeloft. In a book, Shadows on the Water: The Haunted Canals and waterways of Britain by Allan Scott-Davies, he said during the building of Moira Furnace, a number of ghosts were seen. One was a small boy seen crouching in the corner on the upper floor by the mouth of the furnace.

Moira Furnace

furnace where workers fell to their deaths

There were a number of accidents during the short run of producing iron. The dangerous job of feeding the furnace fell to women and children. As they tipped the wheelbarrows of iron, ore, coke or limestone into the furnace, it wasn’t uncommon for the weight to pull them to their deaths. They would die from asphyxiation before becoming part of the next batch of cast iron.

Moira Furnace

attic

There was a fatal explosion in Moira coalmines in the Bath Pit on 9th August 1845. Seven men and boys died of burns from the explosion. Francis Hastings has apparently been spotted in the woodlands surrounding the furnace and apparently someone died from falling off the top of the furnace. Children also are rumoured to move stuff around on the top floor.

Moira Furnace

Mary’s Parlour

We did a quick walk round, dumped our stuff in the kitchen and promptly loaded the fridge with Red Bull and soya milk. In the loading bay, we found children’s dressing up clothes. Cat walked into a cart. When the lights were on. We returned to the engine house and split into two groups of three. Helena, her mum, Liz and stepdad, Nick stayed in the engine house while us and Helena’s husband Alex ventured into the woods. And so began the calamities. There is a reason that word is in our show name! We found a small clearing. Hanging from a tree was a piece of bark with a hole in it for the string. There was also a stick tied in front of it. We have no idea what this means. If anyone can identify it from the photo, please let us know. We’re intrigued. We decided this would be the perfect place for a vigil.

Moira Furnace

unknown object in the woods.

Alex felt a warm spot near him.  Cat moved closer and could also feel it. It was about three feet off the ground. Lynx also felt it. We tried pointing the temperature gun at it but the readings went weird. Then we realised by trying to find the warm spot, we may inadvertently be groping a ghost. We hope you enjoyed it, possible spirit person. We moved on. Alex got stuck climbing over a log in his two pairs of trousers then Lynx walked straight into a bog. She thought it was the path, until she started sinking. She made a hasty retreat. Cat then got caught by a tree. It had her hair and camera bracket and refused to release her. We ended up walking in a big circle and returned to the clearing.

Moira Furnace

us and Alex in the woods

After a creepy sounding owl kept contributing to our calling out by imitating someone screaming horrifically, we started hearing voices. Alex called out to them, wondering if they were fleshy people and not spirit people. We hoped they weren’t. We’re here to hunt for ghosts, not perverts. We decided to find where the voices were coming from. Except Alex slipped in the mud, fell to his knees and smacked his face on his camera, cutting his lip. Cat, who was answering a text at the time, quickly checked her camera. Yes, it was pointing at him. We will now be able to watch it in slow motion replay. We look after people on ghost hunts. This is also probably why locations keep asking if we have insurance and a first aider. Nope and like bollocks.

Moira Furnace

in the loading bay

Meanwhile in the furnace, Liz had asked the spirits to imitate her whistle. The three of them heard a whistle in return and it was captured on EVP. It’s really clear. They played it to us over our walkie talkies while we were in the woods. We regrouped for a warmth then we headed out to the loading bay with Helena for a ouija board session. Although the three of us spent most of our time falling over the steps. It’s a wonder none of us fell into the furnace. We got nothing on the ouija board but on the sp7 spirit box, there was this weird noise. Cat thought it was a sheep, Helena thought it was a horse, Lynx thought it sounded like the Gremlins laughing.

Moira Furnace

lime kilns

We started asking if there was the ghost of a horse present, but it wouldn’t stamp it’s hooves or neigh in response to our questions. Yes, we tried to do an EVP session with a horse. There were some strange bangs, but we couldn’t identify where they were coming from. Moments after we asked the ghosts to push us or push something of ours, Alex radioed to say one of their cameras had fallen off the box it was on. He tried debunking it by shoving the box, but it didn’t tip the camera.

Moira Furnace

romantic candlelit ouija board

We moved the ouija board to the other end of the room and had swapped the planchette for a candle, which was easier to move. Cat moved outside to the furance chimney for a lone vigil while Lynx and Helena amused themselves by discovering that the thumb of a gardening glove looks a lot like a penis in night vision. They shared their finding with Cat and the vigil was soon abandoned for channeling our inner teenage boys. Lynx poked the tip, which looked decidedly dodgy in night vision then Cat made it dance. Only on Calamityville could an innocent gardening glove lead to inappropriate shenanigans. Alex, Liz and Nick joined us for a group photo at the chimney before we all headed back inside to thaw.

Moira Furnace

us doing the ouija board session with Helena

Our next vigil was up in the attic with the sp7. There were some voices coming through, one male voice seemed to be the same person, but we can never understand electronic devices. The SB7 was sweeping in reverse, which hopefully means it wasn’t picking up radio stations. Helena sensed someone on the stairs so went to investigate and felt dizzy. Cat joined her then Alex moved further down the stairs. He felt himself being pulled. Then he tripped climbing the stairs, which was nothing paranormal 😀 When we returned to the room, Alex found witches hats, so we conducted part of the vigil whilst wearing them and no doubt looking absolutely stylish. The K2 spiked a couple of times but the voices on the SB7 died down. After about an hour, we returned to base camp.

Moira Furnace

Roxy being a trigger object in the attic

We split up again, with Helena, Liz and Nick staying in the engine house while us and Alex investigated the lime kilns and canal. We could hear distant voices that sounded like they were in the woods. Maybe the perverts had returned, believing they were safe from our cameras. No-one is ever safe. We invited any ghosts in the canal to bob to the surface like creepy corpses but none would oblige. On the furnace are hand prints from people from where the furnace overheated. We called Helena and Liz out for a group photo on the stage bit by the tower.

Moira FurnaceWe retired to bed around 4:40a.m. We slept on the attic floor under the watchful gaze of the Sony (until battery/tape ran out). Got up around 8 and packed up. We lingered to do daytime shots then left at 9:30. And we still didn’t get lost, despite not printing out reverse directions! Our map reading skills are improving. And then we started to run out of petrol. There are no petrol stations along the M50. There’s one before the A40 but we thought we’d be ok. We were wrong. As Pinky dropped to 5 litres then 4 litres then 3 litres, we began to panic. Especially as there’s no petrol stations along the A40/A449. We dropped our speed and drove behind a caravan to reduce the drag. Had one satisfying moment when we overtook a police car though. Made it back to Cardiff with 2.5 litres of petrol. Even when we don’t get lost we can’t drive without some sort of adventure! But we had a fantastic time with Boleyn Paranormal and we’ll be teaming up again on other adventures. In fact, we have our sights set on Italy…Moira Furnace

Jamaica Inn

 Jamaica InnDay three started early with a spooky trip to Tesco for more ice bags. Actually it wasn’t spooky but as our ghost hunting holiday hadn’t turned up anything paranormal, we were trying to crank up the creep factor. No, wait a minute, day three really started with us discovering if we jumped from the bed settee onto the settee mattress, it was springy enough to propel us onto the bed. Rumours of us turning 30 in Feb have been greatly exaggerated.

Then began our hunt for the Beast of Bodmin. Ryan refused to don a ridiculous costume for our hoax video, much to our disgust. He was almost kicked out of the team for that one. We assured him we would avenge his untimely demise should a local farmer shoot him but he wasn’t appeased by this. With the worst hoax in the history of hoaxes in tatters, we drove through the Moors, finding only some sheep, and they weren’t in the least bit panther shaped.Bodmin Moor

We found Jamaica Inn and drove into the car park only to drive straight back out again. No we weren’t chased out by pirates. We figured 10:30 was a bit early for a drink so we decided to do some more beast hunting. As we toured the Moors, we came across Dozmary Pool, where King Arthur’s sword was apparently thrown after his death. The sign pointed left so we went left. Only to end up driving down a potholed dirt track. There was a bit of a thunk from Mickey and we questioned whether we were supposed to be driving down there. But we’d gone too far to turn back. Also turning back would be like admitting we weren’t supposed to be driving down there. We parked by a gate in some mud and got out to look at the lake, Mickey’s fan loudly protesting. Mini Coopers clearly don’t like being forced to go off road.

We did a bit more beastie hunting before the lure of Jamaica Inn was too hard to resist. We considered driving to the coast, wrecking some ships and stashing the booty in Jamaica Inn so our mum could retire. (Who wouldn’t want a chest full of gold as a holiday souvenir?) But there was no way we’d get a treasure chest in Mickey with all our stuff inside so we returned to the Inn bootyless. Sorry mum. We were so excited at finally being at one of the most haunted places in Britain it was all we could do to stop ourselves borrowing some local horses and charging over the cobbles shouting ‘pieces of eight’ and ‘give us yer gold ye scurvy sons of biscuit eaters.’ But we suspected the elderly clientele wouldn’t engage in an energetic sword fight with us.Jamaica Inn

We first toured the Daphne du Maurier and smugglers museum, taking a photo of L K Jay’s copy of Jamaica Inn near du Maurier’s writing desk. Then we headed for the Inn itself, all hyped up on pirates, ghosts and treasure. Only for One Direction’s ‘Beautiful’ to be playing as we walked in. Mood. Killed. Even worse, the barman was singing to it, not reaching for his shotgun and threatening us with the hangman’s noose. We unashamedly explored the Inn, taking photos and posing behind the original bar, which was Joss’ bar in the book. Unfortunately the K2 was silent. We were desperate for it to be really spooky and haunted but had we not known the significance of the Inn, it was just like any other pub of that age. With added mannequins.

We absolutely loved it and wished we could’ve afforded to stay the night so we could experience how spooky it was on the lonely Moors after the sun had died. We were reluctant to leave, even after we’d been there a couple of hours but it was our last day and we had a beast to find. We got lost on the Moors and stopped for an impromptu interview. With a sheep. He stopped grazing but seemed reluctant to answer our questions. None of the others wanted to talk to us. In fact, every time Ryan called out “the beast is coming!” they all got up and ran off. We thought maybe the first sheep was a bit skittish but this happened every time he warned them. Clearly the beast is much more than a Cornish legend. The sheep’s behaviour hinted the beast is very real.

We got out to explore the Moors but didn’t find any sign of this beastie that had the sheep so worried. We finally convinced Ryan to do a bit of beastie dancing, only for a military looking Jeep to speed along the track. Had the beast been spotted? Did they believe our rumours that Ryan was in fact the beast and had come to take him to a secure unit for ‘examination’? Or were they just heading for the nearby military museum? We might never know. But for now, the beast remains just a legend.C L Raven at Jamaica Inn

Just when we thought we’d be lost on the Moors forever, with tales of a hot orange Mini Cooper haunting the locals, we found our way to Bude. We’d been looking forwards to chips and ice cream at a vegan friendly cafe. It was closed. Annoyed, we kicked some locals before buying pasties for our family. We left Bude at 5 to return home. Only to get lost. Well, not lost, we knew exactly where we were. Right along the coast at the top of Devon. Miles out of our way. We should’ve gone east but instead went north. Very north. We decided to stick with the coastal route and we’re so glad we did. It was stunning. We got to drive through country lanes, see the sun setting over cliffs and beaches and drive through the beautiful Exmoor forest. Not exactly ghost hunting scenery. There was a car parked at the top of one of the cliffs we’d stopped to photograph and a check confirmed it was empty. Where was the driver? There was nowhere to walk – we were on a cliff edge. Had the beast strayed into Devon and had a human sized snack? We’ll never know.

We were very reluctant to leave as Cornwall is stunning. Wish we could’ve stayed longer. In fact we’re planning a return trip. But when we hit the M5, we could smell Wales and suddenly we were desperate to get home. First thing we did when arriving back at 10pm was hunt down the cats for kisses. Warlock’s hunger strike lasted a day. Kyler, the iguana was more committed. His hunger strike lasted 2 days. Warlock has barely left our sides since we got back, so while we can’t wait to return to Cornwall, it’ll be a while before we venture off again. It’s nice to be missed.

And if anyone sees the beast, tell him we’re looking for him.Calamityville Horror at Jamaica Inn

Justice Department

For Calamityville Horror’s season finale, we needed a great location – Nottingham’s Galleries of Justice. We were joined by the fabulous writer L K Jay, who plans to use the location in her sequel to The Ghost Hunter’s Club. We’d made prisoner biscuits for the 3 hour trip up there. It was all going so well. Should’ve known then something bad was about to happen. We reached the exit for the A453 only see ‘CLOSED’ on the sign. No previous warning. Ryan’s GPS recalculated slowly, in the meantime, we’d hit a fork coming off the roundabout and ended up heading towards home. Ten minutes later, we turned around and headed back a different route, now using our Atlas. Then we reached Nottingham. Does anyone remember how much we bitched about North Wales’ terrible sign posting? North Wales, we sorry. Nottingham’s was even worse. The Galleries were not signposted. Anywhere. We drove through the city centre a few times, at one time reaching a crossroads. We idled in the middle of it while we checked for sign posts and with the windows tightly shut, shouted at the crowds of people all walking on the roads around us. Then we noticed the crossroads had no road markings. In fact, we were the only car driving through this part of the city centre.

Yes. We were driving through a pedestrianised shopping zone.

No wonder people were staring. Didn’t help being in the only hot orange Mini Cooper convertible in the city. Hugely embarrassed and praying we didn’t get fined, we fled the scene. Pedestrians screamed as they dived for safety, old men shook their fists at us, children cried when we snatched their ice creams as we shot past. Well, we were heading for an old jail, we figured bad behaviour was a must. We eventually found the Galleries, met L K Jay in the pub opposite and headed inside. Turned out we’d just missed the tour so had to wait half an hour for the next one, which was at half one. At half one we arrived at the meeting point. The tour had started without us. The receptionist said “go through that brown door then through the brown door on your left.” There were 3 brown doors to our left and 3 to our right. Worried one door was going to unleash hungry tigers, we quickly checked them and found a court room behind door number one, where the tour guests were seated in the public gallery. The tour was fantastic! L K Jay got called as a prosecution witness then the three of us sentenced Robin Hood to be decapitated. Turned out, us and L K Jay were the only ones who voted for the death penalty. And we voted very enthusiastically. The guy playing Robin Hood was actually a tour guest. Hope he didn’t take our death sentence personally. We just wanted someone to get decapitated. We weren’t picky who it was. The Sheriff of Nottingham was a bit of a looker, though he was quite young. Wouldn’t have minded him slapping us in chains 😉

We were taken down to the cells and handed over to a female prisoner for a bit before being allowed to wander. Our miserable looking group left rather swiftly. We found a small grate in the Sheriff’s Dungeon and as Ryan was trying to shove Cat down through it, we discovered it was loose. So naturally we removed it and we believe,  got exclusive views of the Oubilette below us. We did an EVP session there and in the dark cell but the K2 wasn’t responsive. Ryan noticed a brick was loose beneath the bed in the dark cell so carefully removed it. We positioned the camera ready, hoping to find an undiscovered skeleton and saw…more bricks. We got over excited when we saw the gallows in the exercise yard and in true Calamityville style, pretended to hang ourselves in the photo. We know how to have fun. Then we found a rack full of shackles so put them on. After that we went onto a ‘ship’ that took us to Australia and we emerged in the very warm corridor of Australia before being freed to wander the rest of the jail. Cat and Ryan started feeling very sick in the upper cells, like their throats were tightening. It passed after we were back outside. It was probably over excitement.

The Galleries of Justice were absolutely brilliant. We would love to go back and are desperate to spend the night there, if they let us. We then visited the City of Caves. Which turned out to be on the top floor of the Broadmarsh shopping centre, beside Wimpy. We’re not kidding. You go through a shop, down some steps and into the caves. They’re 400 years old and man made. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to film down there and there were a lot of people on our tour. But the Galleries of Justice we definitely recommend. We didn’t manage to force Ryan into the pits, we know everyone was looking forwards to that. Next time though…