Most Haunted At Birmingham Central Lock-Up - Series 21, Episode 1 Review
Yvette Fielding kicks off a new series of Most Haunted with a night behind bars at the truly terrifying Birmingham's Steelhouse Lane Lock-Up, a historic Grade II listed police station which operated for 125 years, only closing last year.
The prison was built in 1892 and has housed some of the most infamous convicts in British criminal history, including members of the Peaky Blinders gang, and the mass murderer Fred West.
The grim prison is packed full of small cells on all its floors, and inmates would be confined to their cells as there's no dining area or exercise yard in this fairly small city centre prison. It was used as a remand prison, which meant criminals stayed here while on trial, hence the lack of facilities you'd find in a longterm penal establishment. There was however an underground tunnel which provided a secure link to the adjacent Victorian law courts which are still in use today.
In recent years, the grand old building started to struggle to cope with the demands of modern policing and in 2017 its doors were slammed shut for the final time. Steelhouse Lane's prisoners, staff, and guards moved on, but have some of the inmates stayed at the prison way beyond the end of their sentence?
Is Steelhouse Lane Lock-Up Haunted?
Like most prison, Birmingham Central Lock-Up has its fair share of ghost stories. With a history of thousands of angry and violent prisoners being locked up here, is it possible some of their souls still remain here?
Many people have reported seeing dark shadows walking across empty corridors, and objects moving on their own. They've heard the moans of a distraught woman throughout the day and night, as well as the loud slamming of heavy doors, jangling keys, and heavy footsteps. Most of the paranormal activity is said to happen in cell B23.
"As soon as you walk in to this prison you pick up on the atmosphere, it really does have a negative feeling about it."
The prison is said to be built on the site of a former workhouse, which would have seen the poor and down and outs for society suffering in poor conditions. The show's resident skeptic, Glen Hunt says we should focus on what stood here before and should concentrate on what vibes the building itself might be giving off, "prisons are designed to feel oppressive, they're designed to feel uncomfortable, they're designed to make you feel like you really don't want to be here. that's why we're getting that emotive feeling already."
Glen also raises a valid point, "if you were a returning spirit, why to a place where you've been help temporarily. if you're going to haunt a cell, surely it would be the prison that you were incarcerated in permanently, not just the place you were here for a few days."
With the lights out and the prison in darkness, the team headed together in infamous cell B23 to started their investigation, but before they even made it to the cell they hear a familiar but out of place sound. Running in to cell 16 they found the a toilet flush had been pulled and found water swirling around the bowl.
As they continued across the cellblock they heard what sounded like a trainer squeaking on the floor very clearly. Yvette decided that something in the building was trying to get their attention, so she decided they needed to cover more ground and split up into two teams, one at either end of the lock up.
Karl Beattie set up base in a cell with demonologist Fred Batt and the show's sound guy Darren Hutchinson. Straight off the cell door slammed closed behind Darren, then ran out onto the landing, only to find it empty before heading back into the cell.
Darren then conducted a communication experiment asking the spirit to tap to indicate letters as he ran his finger across his phone's keypad. Using this technique, Darren any ghosts present to spell out its name and was able to spell out the name "Mary Scott."
Fred was ready with the facts, he had a prison manifest from 1901 which did list a Mary Scott, her crime was listed as the murder of her four children. As they read out her crime the cell door opened, the team concluded that this was the spirit of Mary leaving the cell and they head out into the main cellblock in search of her.
Meanwhile Yvette was at the other end of the building with Glen and Gregg Smith on camera duty. Both Yvette and Glen said they were feeling uncomfortable and reported an odd acrid, metallic taste in their mouths. Yvette called out to the spirits, "are you effecting us?" And perhaps something was, as moments later Yvette said, "oh my god, I could absolutely keel over now."
Gregg then reported hearing footsteps above him just outside of one of the cells. Calling out again, Yvette said, "can you make a noise? Can you throw something?" We then cut back to Karl and his team, where just as Yvette asked there was a huge crash.
Yvette and the gang ran over to find that Karl had been hit in the back of the leg by a moving chair.
The team split up again, Gregg, Darren and Fred were back in the cells. It seems for this series that Fred has upgraded his demonic book to a whole folder. Just as he started reciting his incantations in one of the cells, they heard a sound outside. Heading out on to the landing to investigate, they found both taps were running on one of the sinks.
Back in the cell Fred called out, "I summon you, come forward..." and all of a sudden the toilet flushed on its own in the cell they were in. Although the chain for the toilet is outside the cell, there was no sign that any one had pulled it.
Fred got back to his chanting, "is someone with you who was here in the past days? Bring them with you..." before he completed his sentence there was a crash outside the cell, they went out and a chair had fallen over or been thrown from somewhere.
Later another chair was thrown, this time Gregg saw it fall from above, but he noted that there is wire mesh above the cell block so in fact it couldn't have really come from above. Fred says, "demons are the most cunning things you'll ever come across."
Meanwhile Yvette and Karl were on the lower level of the cellblock. First off they heard what sounded like someone walking and went to investigate cell B7, as they entered they heard a moaning sound. Again they heard footsteps, but this time like walking in the distance and then a tapping sound.
In one of the cells, Yvette called out "how many of you are here now? Can you tap out how many of you there are?" Although they weren't picked up on camera, Yvette must have heard tapping as she said "many of you."
Yvette then started to get a bit freaked out and said to Karl, "there's something in this room with us now", calling out she said, "have you just stood behind me?"
They then heard a bang outside the cell and ran out to investigate, but couldn't find the source of the sound.
On Karl's suggestion, Yvette reluctantly took a camera and split up. Just as she was about to go into a cell alone, Yvette heard a noise and said "I'm not going in there, I just heard a noise like there's somebody in there." Karl said, "well it was probably a ghost and that's what we're here for."
After a brief argument Karl went in to the cell that had spooked Yvette, while she went next door. However their time alone was uneventful and they weren't apart for long. Before long they were back in a cell together and heard a tapping outside like something being thrown. They went out to find that a long table which was on wheels had been pulled out from the wall.
They tent started hearing dull thuds like doors slamming, followed by a sound from cell B23 and noises from above them. Yvette then tried whistling, "can you copy me" she said to the spirits. They heard a clear whistling sound coming back, Karl described it as being "as clear as day." Yvette was very excited by this, "how cool is that!"
Glen's Lone EVP Vigil
Throughout the show Glen was sat in a cell on his own as he attempted to capture the sound of spirit voices as EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) on his laptop. He called out to the spirits and prompted them to copy him as he tapped on the wall.
Towards the end of the episode the team joined Glen to see if he was successful. As they started listening to his recording they heard more interesting sounds such as knocks and bangs coming from outside the cell.
But as Glen progressed through his recording, the team were shocked to hear what sounded like a distraught woman crying "no, no, no, no," it was actually pretty clear. The team were sure that the voice, which was clearly female, could not have been Yvette's.
Fred thought the cry might have happened at the moment he and Darren has mentioned Mary killing her children earlier in the episode, could this have been the moment she ran out of the cell?
The final piece of evidence in the show came from the locked off camera. The camera in question was one of the show's regular night vision cameras that was left on a table top. During the investigation the camera suddenly moved on its own while all the team members were accounted for elsewhere, the movement was accompanied by the sound of a female wailing.
It was a good return for what will hopefully be another strong series of Most Haunted and I thought it was a great venue for them to start the series in, there's just something about prison that makes them incredibly creepy.
Interestingly, Stuart Torevell was again missing from this episode having not been seen for most of the previous series, however his name was included in the show's end credits.
The new series of Most Haunted continues on Really. Watch on Freeview (17), Sky (155) and Virgin Media (129), or watch previous episodes of Most Haunted on demand on the UKTV Player.
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