Ghostly goings-on revealed in Wolverhampton's most haunted locations
The first instalment of the Express & Star’s investigation into the most haunted spots across the Black Country and beyond starts here – in Wolverhampton.
Together with Black Country author Andrew Homer we uncover some of the most paranormal sites in the city and the tales attached to their long and rich histories.
During our investigation we will look into the ghosts of military men, pub regulars and criminals, and a policeman so fixated on still catching crooks he is said to be carrying on even after death.
Join us over the course of the next few weeks as we take a look into haunted pubs, nightclubs, coffee shops, castles and dark stretches of road known for murders.
We will be talking with experts in the field on the investigations they have carried out and the things they have encountered in the dark hours of the early morning.
Andrew Homer is a historian and the author of Beer and Spirits, Haunted Hostelries of Shropshire and A Black Country Miscellany.
His latest book Black Country Ghosts and Hauntings, a collection of 150 spooky locations from across the West Midlands, is on sale on Amazon.
1 - The Cuban Exchange
It dates back to at least 1866 and was known for attracting a clientèle of military captains and low-life criminals.
The Cuban Exchange, formerly The Exchange Vaults, is said to house a lively set of ghosts with history extending back to the First and Second World Wars.
A South Staffordshire Regiment captain and a sailor from the Second World War both reportedly cause disturbances.
Captain Roger Tart told regulars to save his seat in the corner of the bar at The Exchange Vaults before leaving for front-line duty.
Listen to Andrew Homer's exclusive extract from his book about The Cuban Exchange
He never returned, and now that fateful corner of the bar is said to experience extreme temperature drops.
Another said to haunt the venue is Second World War sailor Andrew Beswick.
The sailor had an unlawful affair with a local married lady and her husband, a very jealous and violent man, eventually found out.
Beswick’s ghost is now said to haunt the pub.
Strange occurrences have kept staff members on their toes throughout the buildings time.
Lights flicker, the cellar is said to be plagued with electrical faults even though the wiring is sound, bar stools get moved around in the bar and cellar, and the staff have even reported having heard their names called out.
One member of staff, Darren, was once in the cellar on his own changing a barrel and turned around to find a bar stool had been silently placed right behind him, blocking his way out.
2 - Atlantis Nightclub
It was once a cinema, then a nightclub, and now it has been sold to form part of the city’s new learning quarter.
It was revealed by The Express & Star back in September last year that the former site of what had by then become Faces nightclub had been sold to Wolverhampton council.
The building was bought as part of a project that bids to see the City of Wolverhampton College relocate from its campus in Paget Road.
Faces closed in July 2016 just three years after opening with a £750,000 revamp of the two storey building.
Before Faces, it had been Oceana nightclub, which opened in 2006 and closed in 2012 with the loss of 75 jobs after owners Luminar crashed into debts of £140 million. It has also previously been Atlantis Nightclub.
Over the years the spot has seen its fair share of heartache and misery.
The former Savoy Cinema, which first opened its doors in 1937 and changed its name to ABC in 1960, has also collected a few tales of paranormal activity.
The paranormal activity is said to be centred around shadowy figures which have been seen flitting around the building long into the night as club goers were leaving.
Glasses would get smashed for no reason and the cellar doors used to open and close of their own accord as if someone or something was passing through them.
The chilling sounds of laughter and eerie singing can also be heard in the cellar, as reported by various members of staff that used to work at the premises.
3 - Billy Wright pub
It has been a public house from as far back as 1818 and over the course of that time earned itself a tale or two.
The building has been known under various names, including The Feline and Firkin, The Dog and The Greyhound, and is now known as The Billy Wright.
Between 2001 and 2011 when it reopened as The Billy Wright, the pub was said to be constantly opening and closing under different identities.
Listen to Andrew Homer's exclusive extract from his book about the pub
The reports from this building are supposedly linked to each other. A member of Her Majesty’s Constabulary – Her Majesty being Queen Victoria – is said to haunt the premises.
He is an old-fashioned policeman in an ornate uniform. When the Victorian officer is seen it has always been in the area of the main bar.
And he is said to be on the lookout for the other reported ghost.
A local villain of the same time period known as ‘Jack the Hat’.
Victorian times in certain areas of Wolverhampton and notorious public houses were rife with prostitution and criminal goings-on.
Whilst nothing is known of the Hat’s crimes, it is believed they must have been terrible enough that they are pursued even beyond death.
4 - Madame Clarke’s
This Georgian Grade II listed building has a colourful past. Despite originating in the 18th century the present building is mainly 19th century.
It was a city watering-hole but doubled up as a brothel run by Madame Clarke herself.
Stories have materialised over the years of gentleman who did not want to be seen entering or leaving the building, especially by their wives or partners, using tunnels as means of access.
One of the tunnels is believed to have lead to the Old Still further up the street.
Ladies of the night who used to frequent the house were known to chalk prices on the soles of their shoes so as to make a quick escape from the law.
Upon the arrival of the police, the charges could be easily erased by simply wiping their feet on the floor.
The building is said to be haunted by Madame Clarke and could be the ‘grey lady’ who has been spotted on site.
Sounds of footsteps and inexplicable loud bangs have been heard together with voices.
Staff have previously reported that they feel as though they were being closely watched.
Waitresses are also said to have had their bottoms pinched – leading some to believe it is in fact Madame Clarke’s customers who still frequent the establishment in death.
5 - Prince Albert
The current Prince Albert public house opened its doors in 1900 and replaced a much earlier watering hole which had the Royal Commercial Hotel situated upstairs.
For many years the Prince Albert was a public house on the ground floor and also had a hotel on the upper floors.
This was the Royal Hotel and from 1911 had its own separate entrance. In 1999 the Grade II listed building started undergoing extensive alterations and refurbishments.
The former Royal Hotel part of the building is allegedly haunted by Miss Williams – known to wear a man’s suit, smoke a pipe and ride a powerful motorcycle. Following the First World War Miss Williams had a secret lover by the name of Anna who was a Wren in the Royal Navy.
In a bid to keep their relationship a secret Miss Williams would light a candle in Room 13 as a signal of safety for Anna to come and meet her lover.
But Anna was tragically killed in a tragic accident and following the death of Miss Williams too, Room 13 was locked up and no longer used.
Guests have since been woken to a figure standing silently at the bottom of the bed and seen a candle flickering in the window.
- Andrew Homer's book Black Country Ghosts and Hauntings is available on Amazon priced at £8.99