This location has to be the most active place I have personally visited. It is here that I experienced my first physical ghost manifestations and the memories are still vividly etched in my mind! It is interesting to note that the building itself isn’t very old, dating back to the 1930s I believe. It was a theatre in its first existence, and over time it morphed into Rileys Snooker Hall with Butterflies Nightclub in the basement. Situated on the end of one of Oldham’s central shopping streets it seems an unlikely venue for a ghost hunt but inside it is full of surprises!
We began our investigations in the abandoned nightclub in the basement. The previous landlords had done a moonlight flit about 6 years previously we were told, and we were surprised to find crates of Schweppes Orange Juice bottles that had just been abandoned along with odd glasses, cocktail sticks, and all the tables and chairs. When we first walked around the large room me and two other people saw the figure of a man standing in a doorway behind the bar. He seemed so solid that we ran around to investigate, expecting to find a caretaker or stray ghost hunter but there was no one there! When we switched the lights off there were odd flashes from the fake torches on the walls, as though someone were flicking the switches on and off, but we knew this was not possible as we were locked in from the inside and had switched the lights off ourselves.
There were twelve people in our group and we decided to sit in a circle on stools on the dance floor. We felt surrounded by people yet we were the only ones there. It felt like there was a big party happening all around us, almost like an echo of previous big nights out for local revellers. Suddenly my heart leaped as I saw the disembodied face of a young man just above a speaker that was suspended from the ceiling. It was totally unexpected yet I was suddenly really excited! He seemed to be in his twenties and had spiky blond hair and a cheeky grin on his face. I had certainly never expected to see an actual floating apparition especially so soon in the night! I saw his image for only a few seconds but he knew I had seen him.
After a while we moved around the room and I sat on a bench against the wall near to the bar area. As I looked across to the balcony leading to the entrance I saw the same man but this time he was leaning casually on the railing as though watching people on the dance floor. When he saw me looking he grinned again and then proceeded to lean further over the balcony and pull faces at me almost as if he were drunk and having fun with me! I was intrigued! He seemed quite handsome and not in the least scary or intimidating. I did start to get a little nervous when he moved from behind the railing and I sensed him walking around the bar towards me. Then some plastic carrier bags rustled near me and I lost my nerve and moved closer to someone else in my group.
During a break my friend and me went into the Ladies’ toilets near the club entrance but the atmosphere was so uncomfortable we barely stepped through the door. The trigger object that had been placed in that room earlier had moved and the whole entrance and toilets/cloakroom area felt very oppressive. During the next vigil a few of us decided to sit in this vestibule area. I sat in the spot where I had seen the young man earlier. It felt to us as though the spirits had moved to the other side of the room and were watching us from across the dance floor. It was almost as if they didn’t want us intruding on their party. As we decided to move again we heard a tap running in the Ladies’ toilet and then a toilet flushed in the Gents’. On investigation we found there was no water plumbed into either room as it had been disconnected when the building closed down.
Later we spent some time in the derelict rooms in the upper floors of the building, adjacent to the snooker hall. I was amazed at how much disused space there was and it seemed such a waste. Perhaps there was a supernatural reason as to why it had not been developed for public use…? Using glass divination we made contact with a woman named Isabella who was murdered. She used to work at the nightclub and had been having an affair. After we spoke to her a male spirit came through but he was reluctant to tell us about himself. We believe he was the gentleman that Isabella had the affair with and that they were both murdered when the truth was discovered.
We moved into another abandoned room, which used to be the main theatre, and as we stood in a circle in the dark I saw a Harlequin clown stood in the middle holding his belly and laughing. He reminded me of ‘The Laughing Man’ at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and I wasn’t in the least afraid of him! I could then see him on a unicycle going round the circle and juggling and when I told everyone the Medium started laughing and said he had dropped a ball! After that we explored the old kitchen area and encountered a very territorial chef who told us all to leave. We did as we were told!
Another unique experience I was lucky enough to enjoy was to climb up onto the roof of the building and see the view across Oldham and Greater Manchester all lit up on a Saturday night. We had some fun watching drunken people on the streets below and we couldn’t resist making a few ghostly noises to confuse them! I thoroughly enjoyed this event not least because it made a change to your average haunted house.
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*Rileys Snooker Hall image found via Google Images