Last night, I was invited to join a team of paranormal investigators at a private property in the seaside town of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. Cleethorpes, like many seaside towns in the UK, has seen a gradual decline in the tourist industry due to the popularity of cheap package holidays over the last 20-30 years. One of the victims of this steady decline was the hotel which I visited last night. Now largely in a state of disrepair, the former Dolphin Hotel, last welcomed paying guests some 40 years ago. The ground floor of the hotel is still in use however, as a popular Steakhouse restaurant.
After speaking to members of staff at the restaurant, it became clear that a number of different types of activity had been reported; from audible noises, to physical movement (doors opening on their own) and accounts of visually witnessing a mist-like presence on the upper floors of the building. The majority of this activity took place at night, with the manager regularly needing to shut off the burglar alarms in the early hours due to the interior doors opening, seemingly on their own.
On exploring the upper floors of this hotel, it soon became clear to me exactly why people felt so uneasy about this location and why they might also feel like the area was haunted. A number of factors come into play, all of which have the psychological impact of supporting or confirming their belief that the hotel might be haunted. They are as follows:
- Substantial structural disrepair
- Uneven and sloping flooring
- Signs of previous human habitation
- An unsubstantiated claim of suicide in one of the rooms
- Areas of clutter
- Passing traffic and pedestrian noise
- Light from passing car headlights
- Broken windows creating strong draughts
- Temperature differences of over 10 °C between each level of the three upper floors
- Unusual decoration
Put these factors together and what have you got? The perfect recipe for a haunting? No, the perfect conditions to create paranormal phenomena that is actually quite, quite natural.
Feelings of unease
The sloping and uneven flooring and psychedelic room decoration in one room (yes, psychedelic) will make you feel slightly unbalanced, psychologically putting you on edge, similar to walking in a funhouse.
Cluttered rooms add to the feeling of unease as you are unable to easily view your surroundings and your movement is impeded. Signs of previous human habitation in the old hotel rooms add to the feelings of sadness.
Graffiti is also evident in the property. With messages on the walls and doors such as 'Bad', 'Help' and 'Save us!', it's not difficult to realise that this too, might make someone feel uneasy.
Temperature also has a role to play. With warm air from the steakhouse restaurant on the first floor (17.5°C), cooling to 7°C on the 2nd and 3rd floor, before rising again to 11.5°C on the 4th floor, it's no wonder that people might also experience the feeling of being sick.
There is also that unsubstantiated report that a man committed suicide in one of the upper rooms. Even if this were to be true, I feel it only provides a fitting explanation or reason why the property might be haunted for the members of staff. There is no evidence that such an incident would be in any way responsible for the activity reported.
The broken windows have allowed birds, most likely pigeons, to move and nest freely amongst some rooms (evident from their droppings). The disrepair of the building has allowed substantial ceiling and water damage to pervade in multiple rooms, creating the sound of dripping water or creaking wood. Traffic and pedestrian noise can easily be mistaken as noises from the upper floors.
The visual phenomenon of a white mist-like presence was most likely the appearance of passing traffic creating the appearance of moving lights on the upper floors. Considering the location of the property, it is also reasonable to assume that other natural explanations such as sea fret could also explain the appearance of mist.
The reported incidents of doors opening on their own is really not that unusual considering the number of open or broken windows on the upper floors creating draughts which would easily be able to open a door if it has not been fully closed correctly. Also, although some hotel rooms had working fire doors, which allowed them to stay fully closed, a number of doors have long since had rusted or broken chains which pull the door to, allowing them to move freely with very little effort, thereby creating banging noises.
It was also reported by a member of staff that she regularly felt her hair bands seemingly being pulled from her hair and finding them on the floor. This says more about gravity I feel, than anything paranormal at play.
I am reasonably confident therefore that this property is not haunted. I still have my audio, photographic and film footage to listen to and check, over the next couple of days. Maybe I shall yet be proved wrong.
Am I disappointed that this location didn't provide evidence of the paranormal? No. Not in the slightest. I am not a 'ghost hunter'. That assumes that a haunted property has a ghost and that is what I am searching for. The majority of paranormal investigators go into a property with certain assumptions i.e. use of dowsing assumes ghosts can be dowsed, use of EMF meters assumes a link between EMF and ghosts etc. My main priority on entering a property is, and always will be, to explain and rationalise the experiences of people who witness supposed paranormal phenomenon. As I hope to have demonstrated, a mixture of natural explanations and psychology has a massive impact on whether somebody perceives something as haunted or not.