Behind the grandeur of its façade, Bolton’s The Watermillock House Toby Carvery could be hiding sinister secrets of the supernatural kind.

The stately building has earned a reputation for being one of the town’s most haunted locations.

And later this year, brave souls can put it to the test by joining a paranormal investigation by torchlight at the Crompton Way establishment.

The property was built as a grand manor for local mill owner T.H. Hesketh in the 1880s.

Its ornate interior and period features have been retained, which certainly lend it an atmosphere ripe for hauntings.

The Bolton News: Toby Carvery The Watermillock Crompton Way

When the Hesketh family left, it became a hospital that specialised in treating military casualties during World War One, many of whom were pilots who had suffered horrific burns.

Then, in 1937, it became a children’s hostel caring for refugee children who had fled the Spanish Civil War.

Typically, they remained there for about a year before returning home to a more stable Spain.

During their time in Bolton, the townspeople went out of their way to make them feel welcome.

Northern hospitality included fundraising events by schools and colleges, and one local girl even invited some of them to her 14th birthday party.

If any relatives of that kind girl are reading this, The Bolton News would love to hear from you!

Although the refugee children felt safer living in The Watermillock, and were no doubt touched by the compassion they received, many of them must have still felt traumatised by being uprooted from their families and homeland.

Perhaps an accumulation of that emotional trauma, coupled with the pain and suffering of the First World War injured, has seeped into the very fabric of the building over the years. That would certainly explain its status as a supernatural hot spot.

READ MORE: Bolton named as the second most haunted place in the UK

Walk with stunning structure The Halo and spectacular views

Bolton's hidden gems to explore

The most frequent ghostly sighting is that of a mysterious lady who walks the upper floor. Visitors say they have heard the unexplained sound of footsteps.

The cellar is also a place to avoid – or head for – depending on your courage.

The Bolton News: Toby Carvery The Watermillock Crompton Way

Some who have ventured down there describe feeling overwhelmed and a feeling of being watched. Other visitors talk about sudden drops in temperature and furniture being inexplicably moved around.

Although she lives on-site, general manager, Becky Whittingham, will not be among those taking part in the paranormal night.

“I live upstairs, and the room next door is supposedly haunted. If I went on the ghost tour and experienced anything unsettling I’d probably never sleep again!” she laughed.

“A visiting American lady once told me she saw a woman in white at the top of the staircase. She said: ‘You can see me,’ and then evaporated!”

The weddings which are held in the beautiful building, with the hall being authorised for the solemnisation of marriages, are more her comfort zone.

The Bolton News: Gareth JeansGareth Jeans

Diner Gareth Jeans, who worked at the restaurant in the 1990s, had his fair share of supernatural experiences.

“One night I was standing in the cellar getting changed into my whites when the outline of an old lady appeared,” he recalled.

“I know about the building’s history as a military hospital, but I also learned that there is a tunnel that goes from the restaurant, under Crompton Way, to the gatehouse. It used to be a mortuary and I saw the figure of a soldier walk through the wall.”

The Bolton News:
Gareth is made of stronger stuff than a lot of people and says he’s never been afraid of ghosts.

The spooky evening will be hosted by renowned paranormal investigator Paul Smailes.

His company, Haunted Buildings, has visited supernatural buildings across the UK, and Paul has appeared in the hit US documentary series, Paranormal Lockdown.

The Bolton News: Yazmin Harrison, supervisorYazmin Harrison, supervisor

“It’s the combination of the fear factor, the opportunity to experience the unknown, the intrigue and the curiosity that makes people come to our events,” he said.

The Watermillock investigation will start with a meal and a talk by Paul about his experiences and what guests can expect.

The Bolton News:

Ouija boards, table-turning, human pendulums and glass tipping are all on the agenda for the six-hour event.

“When the other customers have left at 10pm, we’ll have the place to ourselves, so we turn off the lights and split into hosted groups to investigate the most haunted locations using tech such as electronic voice phenomena (EVP) recorders.”

The Bolton News: Toby Carvery The Watermillock Crompton Way

Most terrifyingly, he will be bringing a hand-made porcelain clown doll which detects magnetic forces and is a conduit to the spirit world.

“Later, there will be the opportunity for guests to go off and explore on their own, before we finish at 2am.”

For further details about the event as detailed on the posters above contact The Watermillock, check its Facebook page or go to