FROM the grey lady, screaming skulls and a poltergeist, Bolton certainly has its fair share of hauntings, with only this week a sighting in the grounds of Turton Tower causing much excitement ­— with readers keen to share their own ghostly experiences.

But given Bolton's rich history and heritage, proudly reflected in its large collection of listed buildings, is it so surprising that Bolton is a hotbed of supernatural activity.

Saiqa Chaudhari reports.

'Bolton's buildings are steeped in history, for example Ye Olde Man & Scythe, and we have the history of the town," says Daniel Hurst as he explains why Bolton is the subject of so many supernatural sightings and investigations, "As a pupil at Smithills School we grew up with the story of Bloody Mary at Smithills Coaching House, it is a small town and those stories and told and shared.

"On a visit to Turton Tower, a dog walker told us a story of a witches coven just up the road.There was a ancient square, which was destroyed and the witches banished or murdered. There is so much history in the area."

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Daniel is a member of Paranormal Encounters UK, a newly formed society set up to investigate reports of supernatural happenings.

The team concentrate on sights in South Yorkshire, Lancashire and, of course, Bolton, with two visits already having been paid to Turton Tower, since the society formed in October.

It was Daniel who captured a chilling image in the grounds during a nighttime visit as he heard rustling. Legend has it that the tower is haunted by a mystery woman whose silk dress can often be heard rustling as she walks the corridors.

And already Paranormal Encounters UK have built up quite a following.

In fact a national survey revealed that the majority of people ­— three in five ­— say they have seen a ghost in their lifetime and a snap poll by The Bolton News revealed that 74 per cent said they believe ghosts and the supernatural.

"It is the unknown which interests people," said Daniel, "You live your life as best as you can, you laugh, you cry you have fun and is that just snuffed out. People want to know, religions all belief in the the afterlife."

Daniel's interest in the supernatural and the inexplicable began when a family relative guessed the couple were having the second child, without them having told anyone as they had only just found out themselves.

Even Bolton Council is known to have called on supernatural means to deal with a unexplained happenings. In 1998 a Westhoughton resident reported ceilings dripping with a baby oil type liquid, with her child speaking to a "little man" and a sighting of a ghostly figure at the bottom of the stairs.

A medium had performed an exorcism on a house the spirit was said to have previously have haunted.

Bolton Council told The Bolton News at the time: "The substance which appeared in the house has now apparently stopped.

"We had a sample of wallpaper analysed which had this substance on it but the results were not conclusive, apparently because the sample wasn't large enough.

"If the problem persists, we will be looking at investigating the matter further.

"Last time we called in a medium. We could do the same thing again.

"There is something, but we don't know what it is basically."

Michelle Cardno co-authored Haunted Bolton, which documents the history of the town and the investigations following reported sightings and supernatural happenings, said Lancashire Hauntings, of which she was a member, would receive more calls from Bolton than anywhere else.

As well as the well-known haunted sites, Michelle has carried out investigations into many of the town centre pubs.

“There is a concentration of activity in Deansgate,” said Michelle, “There was the Bolton Massacre, so whether that has something to do with it. We have never come across an area where the activity is so condensed in one place.We would always carry out our investigations do our own research, the history of the places, which is so fascinating.

“At first some would be a big cagey about telling us what had happened but then they would call us in.” In some cases a ghost would just become a regular, as in the case of a spirit smoking a cigarette seen in The Hen and Chicks at last orders ­— and when approached he just disappears!

Says Michelle, there is still plenty more to explore ­— including the vaults running under Deansgate.