Orphan Black

Newsham Park hospitalIt finally happened. After one death pose too many, we were locked away in the morgue in the dead of night. Alone.

Just another Friday night with Calamityville Horror.

We’ve been so excited about our overnight investigation at Newsham Park Hospital, a former orphanage and asylum since we booked it in June. And the day finally arrived. We drove to an undisclosed film set to meet Neen (she’s a scenic artist) then followed her camper van, Tallulah (who you may recognise from our Ancient Ram Inn episode). We left General Pinkinton in a lane just off Junction 7 of the M5, hopped aboard Tallulah and began our journey to Liverpool, hoping Pinky wouldn’t be towed/stolen/damaged. We promptly got stuck in traffic on the M6. The event started at 9 p.m. Our route planner said the trip would take 3 and a half hours from Cardiff. We left our house at 2:30. (At 2:10 we were still deciding what to wear). We arrived in Liverpool at 8:50. With Neen driving there was no epic meltdown where sailors have to phone their mothers to apologise for our foul language. Sorry about that. We know seeing us lose our tempers is becoming a favourite part of our episodes. Even if our mum does keep begging us to bleep it out. Or take anger management classes.Newsham Park hospital

We loaded ourselves up with our gear and hopped out of the van. Then they opened the gates for us to drive in. We told Neen to drive in and we’d walk, thinking the car park was just inside the gate. Turned out we had to walk around the entire outside of this massive hospital to reach it. But walking meant we got to film and photograph the exterior in the daylight. The building is stunning. We really wished we could’ve been there on our own but we can’t afford the cost of these locations (usually about £600 a night, which would take us two years to earn from royalties). Newsham Park hospitalWe joined the other guests inside. One of the leaders, Matt, was a sceptic. At first we were pleased. Being sceptics ourselves, we’re glad when team leaders don’t automatically attribute everything to the paranormal. Except he was talking about all these paranormal shows he’d been on and told us how everything on the shows was faked and that they do it for the money. We’re sorry but if you believe that strongly that the paranormal doesn’t exist, why are you running a ghost hunting company? It wouldn’t be for the money, would it? He then basically told us this place wasn’t in the least bit haunted. Just what you want to hear when you’ve paid £60 to be there. We’ll make our own opinions, thanks.

We were taken on a walk around with the medium, Phil. For once he wasn’t the type of medium who starts sprouting stuff about people he’s seeing in the room and having a one-sided conversation with his spirit guide. He refused to say anything about the rooms, instead wanting to hear what other people were experiencing because like he said, if he says there’s a clown in the room, when we’re in the room later, we’ll start seeing a clown. We hoped to god there wasn’t a freakin’ clown in the room.

Newsham Park Hospital

Naughty boys corridor

We liked him for this. He’s right – psychological impressions and suggestion play a big part in these things. We did a seance in one room but we spent most of our time joking around with the two brothers whose hands we were holding – the medium separated men ‘cos apparently men don’t like holding hands with other men. We don’t like physical contact with strangers, especially hand-holding. It’s awkward and way too intimate for our liking. Why can’t we link arms? One of the reasons we were put on reins as kids was because we hated holding hands, even with our parents. Usually one of us will film seances, so gets to opt out of this social awkwardness. The medium was getting everyone to call out so us and the brothers were trying to outdo each with creative callings out. We won. There were three women there who seemed to be experiencing everything (you’ll meet them again later in the post so pay attention). Every time we do one of these ghost hunts, there is always a couple of people who experience everything. We’re not saying they’re making it up, but someone else’s personal experiences isn’t evidence. And they’re usually so annoying that we want to use our equipment on them in a way not recommended by the manufacturers. A lot of people were either feeling hot or cold. The brothers either side of Lynx were apparently having hot flushes, which we helpfully suggested might be the menopause. We’re not fans of focusing on how you’re feeling. In every day life, you don’t stand in the pitch black, paying very close attention to you how feel, or what temperature you are. Yet because you’re expected to do this on these events, you notice minor changes and your mind attributes them to the paranormal. The only thing we felt was hungry, but we’re certain this isn’t something spirits can cause.Newsham Park hospital

After the walk around, we were split into three groups. We’d hoped to be in a group with the brothers, because they seemed to be the only ones with a sense of humour. But Fate decided the episode was lacking a meltdown, so we were put with the three ‘sensitive’ women and other women then got taken to the naughty boys corridor by Phil. This was one of the areas we’d most been looking forwards to. We did a seance in the corridor and Phil was convinced there was a child standing near Cat, who was a few feet away from the group as she was filming. Neither Cat, her K2 or the camera picked up on anything but the child seemed to hang around her for quite a while. The three sensitives kept calling out for Jeff or John. Neen suddenly said “it’s not Jeff, it’s Tommy.” Now people do this a lot of these tours but it’s never happened to one of us. We’re the first to call bullshit on this stuff. But we’ve known Neen since we were 5. So when she said she was hearing the name Tommy, we believed her. Phil said she was right. Then she sensed the child standing beside her and thought he was about 5 or 6. Again, Phil said she was right. Then he locked her in Tommy’s cupboard 😀 We also put ourselves in naughty cupboards, choosing doors beside each other. They happened to be an adjoining cupboard. Nobody else went in one. To be fair, we were the only ones small enough to fit. Us and Neen were in there for a while and we all felt really comfortable, despite the cramped conditions. The cupboards are in the attic so the sloped roof makes them small.

Newsham Park hospital

Psychiatric ward

We then moved on to the psych ward. Cat was using the shoulder rig for the first time and the hospital has no electricity, so she was guiding herself with the night vision camera, forgetting about the spacial awareness needed for the rig. And walked into a wall. We did another vigil then it was time to swap leaders. Sadly we couldn’t swap groups. In hindsight, we should have hidden in the cupboards until everyone had gone, but people tend to notice when we’re not around. Probably because the sounds of chains/boots/tripping have mysteriously vanished. We went with Natalie to the school house and sat in a room upstairs doing a vigil. She asked the spirits to communicate through tapping or knocking. We heard nothing. Then one of the three aforementioned women (this one had a peroxide poodle perm) said “I can’t concentrate with that camera” and pointed to Cat, who was sitting opposite her. Not exactly sure how much concentration is needed for sitting in a dark room. It’s not like we were trying to study the number of crumbs in a biscuit. Neen suggested closing the LCD screen as it does create a glow so we’ll happily close it when asked. The woman replied “no, it’s the whirring.” It’s a 10 year old camera. It takes Digital 8 tapes. The whirring is the tape. Cat said “I can’t do anything about the whirring.” To which the woman said in a rude manner “you could switch it off.” Now if she had asked politely “look, do you mind switching your camera off for a bit ‘cos it’s noisy” we wouldn’t object. But the abrupt and rude way in which she spoke to Cat instantly riled us. She wasn’t one of the organisers – they were happy for us to film – she was just a guest, like us. But we were raised to be polite so Cat switched the camera off. Almost instantly, this woman and her friends started hearing tapping no-one else could hear. When the vigil was over, the lady beside Cat said “interesting how you three are the only ones who keep experiencing things” and pointed to Poodle Perm and Pals. We could’ve hugged her. She later spoke to us, absolutely disgusted at Poodle Perm’s rudeness and reckoned we should’ve left the camera on to spite her. Wish we had.

Newsham Park hospital

school house

We moved downstairs to where there was a glass on a table. We were still pissed off so didn’t participate. We just wanted to be rid of the group and go off on our own. We’d been stuck with everyone since 9 p.m and were frankly bored. We’re not keen on using planchettes and ouija boards with people we don’t know. We don’t trust them not to fake it. Neen joined in while Lynx stood behind, watching with the K2. Cat had wandered to another corner to watch a plastic cup Natalie had asked the spirits to move. The K2 bleeped a couple of times. It had been silent all night. Unfortunately, due to Poodle Perm, Cat wasn’t filming. The K2 didn’t go off for the rest of the night, which made us even angrier, because the one time it did go off, we weren’t filming because Mystic Meg ‘couldn’t concentrate’. Weirdly, when Natalie brought out the spirit box, the deafening static didn’t seem to affect the woman’s concentration at all.Newsham Park hospital

Then we did our final vigil with Matt in the upstairs day rooms of the hospital. He mostly spent the vigil ranting about ghost hunting shows. We all know Most Haunted was faked, we don’t want to spend our vigil time hearing about it. Remember the £60 we paid to be here? We paid to spend the night ghost hunting in a stunning location, not to listen to a man ranting for an hour. We can watch that for free on YouTube. Again, if you really think it’s a load of crap, bugger off and let us do our own vigils. We moved to a different room, because strangely, talking about Most Haunted didn’t encourage the ghosts to interact with anyone. Neen got an impression of a stocky woman with a miserable face in the middle of the room and walked forwards to see if anyone was standing there.Newsham Park hospital They weren’t. Again, this has never happened before. She put it down to her working a 9 hour day, the long drive, and her imagination. Although Matt did say that people who have seen this matron described her as Neen had. Poodle Perm and Pals by now were taking over the vigils, doing all the calling out and acting like proper paranormal investigators. Basically they were parrotting the callings out you hear on shows. We would’ve invited them to be our guests for the night but there’s no room for egos on our show and Cat’s camera would’ve just annoyed them.

Finally we were allowed to go off on our own. After 5 hours of being stuck with everyone, we felt like dogs being let off the lead. It was all we could do not to go running off cheering or barking. We’d been promised we could have 3 hours of lone investigation time. We had 2. When we go with Beyond the Grave events, they let you go off alone between each vigil, which is much better. We headed for the naughty boys corridor and set up two cameras in the corridor, along with Ketch, our cuddly executioner, and Roxy, our punk sock monkey, who were our trigger objects for the children. We set motion sensor lights opposite the toys so we’d know if a child tried to touch them. The JVC was set up on a tripod with a light filming from one end of the corridor and the Sony night vision camera was filming from the other side of us. Cat and Neen got out our crystals and we started our vigil. However, lots of people kept walking through the corridor, so we had to keep stopping our vigil until they left. So our effort for a controlled EVP session was a failure. A strip of fabric hanging from a cupboard door handle kept moving. We checked for draughts but couldn’t find any. Then Lynx found one of the windows near the cupboard was ajar. We moved the fabric to a different door handle and sure enough, it stayed still.

Newsham Park Hospital

vigil in Naughty Boys corridor

We locked ourselves in different cupboards to conduct separate EVP sessions. We felt really comfortable in the cupboards. If we’d had pillows, we could’ve slept there. It probably stems from when we were kids, every time we went into our mum’s school, we were so scared of the other children (we were chronically shy) that we would shut ourselves in the store cupboards for pretty much most of the day. When we later worked in our mum’s school aged 18, if being around all the kids and staff got too much, we’d hide in the art storeroom until we felt better. So cupboards have always had a calming effect on us. Neen moved into the psych ward on her own and heard a knock, but couldn’t tell what it was. Cat started feeling horribly sick in the cupboard, one moment feeling fine, the next nearly heaving. This was probably due to tiredness.

Newsham Park hospital

the morgue

We now only had half an hour left and there was one place we hadn’t gone: the morgue. Matt had said earlier that he didn’t understand why people wanted to go to the morgue as people don’t die there, so there are no ghosts, same with cemeteries. This is right. Those places aren’t haunted. But we love them. We went outside to find one of the organisers to take us to the morgue, as it was outside the gates. We eventually spotted Natalie heading out of the gate and chased her. We got to the morgue just as she was about to lock it up. She asked if we wanted to go in. Then she said: “I have to lock the gates to stop local youths getting in so I’m going to have to lock you in for half an hour. Is that alright?” That’s like asking if Goths like Halloween. It was all we could do not to barge her out the way.

The morgue is really small, but there before us, almost glowing with tantalising light and accompanied by angels singing, was the morgue fridge. We’ve been boring people stupid since June going on about how we’re going to get inside the fridge and finally, here was our chance. We took photos and filmed a bit until we couldn’t wait any longer and climbed inside. There were two doors, but it was open plan on the inside. Each side had three pull out slabs. We took a ‘top bunk’ each and promptly did death poses for our photos. If there’s an ultimate place for a death pose, it’s a morgue fridge. Sadly there weren’t body bags to complete the photo. Neen then shut both doors, trapping us inside.

Newsham Park hospital

inside the morgue fridge

We lay down to conduct an EVP session. Weirdly, we weren’t at all creeped out. In fact, had the slabs been soft, we would have been happy to sleep there. Neen then joined us on a middle bunk. Except when you pull out the slabs, they tip, so she had a job getting in. And then getting out. Watching Neen fail to get out of a morgue fridge was the highlight of our night. Natalie fetched us way too soon, just as Cat was crawling free of the fridge. Natalie said “you just have to go in there don’t you?” she was clearly a fan of the fridge. It’s the only time we’ll get to go in one while we’re still alive. We insisted on crawling inside the crematorium pit before we left.

Newsham Park Hospital

we’re inside here

We left Newsham at 4 am and drove until we found somewhere to park Tallulah for the night. We chose a nice looking housing estate and bunked down for all of three and a half hours.

Is Newsham Hospital haunted? We’re undecided. Neen’s experiences were peculiar. If it wasn’t for those, we’d say no. Two hours wasn’t long enough on our own – there were areas we didn’t get to explore and our EVP sessions were interrupted by other people. We’d like to go back on our own and experience it properly in true Calamityville style – locking ourselves in creepy places, dancing, getting lost in the hospital and not noticing anything paranormal. But first we need the funds. *Dons balaclavas* If anyone wants us, we’ll be at the bank 😉Newsham Park hospital