Hartlepool Headland itself is awash with both history and strange goings on. It having a natural harbour the headland first became a port in the very early medieval period. And Borough Hall is in the middle of it all.
The History of Borough Hall
It was founded by the De Brus family in the 12th century and quickly became a major port. From this point on its history has been turbulent, it was the base for the English Fleet during the Scottish Wars and saw action in the First World War.
The Headland of Hartlepool is located on the north-east coast of England on a ridge of limestone with cliffs to the east and south and a steep slope to the harbour on the western side. With a natural bay in the lee of the limestone ridge, it was an ideal haven for shipping.
One of the Headlands most famous historical stories surrounds St Hilda, an English abbess of Whitby and Princess of Northumbria, who joined a convent on the headland and remained there from 649-657AD. The convent was destroyed by the Danes in 800AD yet the legacy of the religious significance of the site remains to this day with St Hilda`s Church which dates back to the Norman period taking pride of place on the Headland.
It is perhaps the esoteric significance of the Headland which has spawned so many tales of hauntings. If there is anywhere in the country with more haunted buildings per square mile than the Headland then we at Northern Ghost Investigations have yet to see them.
Hartlepool Borough Hall is one of those buildings. Built in 1865 a short walk from St Hilda`s Church and falling within the old borders of the convent. However, the Borough Hall has its own history that few are aware of ? even so far as being used as both an open air market and as a roller skating rink in the 1930s!
Not only did the building house the administrative council offices but it also contained a Magistrates court and holding cells for rogues and vagabonds. Many of the cells have been converted to other uses now, but many of the original cell doors remain in place, including the little hatches where the constables would look in on their `guests`, within the building as do many of the barred windows within the cells. A `hidden` staircase used to transport the prisoners from the cells to the Magistrates court (which remains the same and is now known as the Croft Room).
The Haunted History of Borough Hall
Given the historical nature of the entire headland and the numerous buildings situated there – its little surprise we find tales of paranormal activity within the Borough Hall.
Within the old Mayors room many many strange noises have been heard and recorded over time with nobody ever being able to identify them or to explain their source.
Some noises within the Borough Hall are more identifiable – throughout the building reports of footsteps have been heard even though nobody else has been present in the building itself. Its not sure where these footsteps are heading – perhaps prisoners being led up to the Magistrates? – but what is known is that the footsteps are a common occurrence and have been heard by many people.
There are some rooms of the Hall which contain an incredibly heavy atmosphere within them that can make people feel very uncomfortable – again, there is no logical explanation for this atmosphere and no sooner does it come and is felt by people, it drifts away.
With reports of unexplained smells that waft through the Borough Hall and reports of people being physically pushed by what and whoever roams the hallways at night – the activity within the Hall seems sufficient for the Borough Hall to take its place alongside the other paranormally active locations on Hartlepools Historic Headland.