Posted by Glyn Wade

Twas a dark, grim night in olde Burslem town on Valentine’s Day 2014 but there was no talk of romance that night. The rain hammered down onto already sodden pavements and a maleficent wind howled through alleyways and empty doorways.

resizedimage150200-a6In the dining room of The Leopard Hotel a musty air indicative of the transmogrification of golem bodies echoed malevolently across tables lit with candles plonked unceremoniously in candelabra of a modernistic sourcing. A tall, blond man of indeterminate years sat down to dine with a coven….harem….posse….erm….group, yes, let’s go with group…..of four maidens of varying virtue…only joking!

resizedimage150200-a7Better be careful here! Four wonderful ladies and of that I kid you not.

So yes it was the opposite of a romantic evening when Claire and I sat down on Valentine’s Day in the supposedly haunted Leopard pub in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent with three friends….and a few other tables of strangers. We ate a pleasant two course meal before the night’s entertainment began as Chris Stokes (he has a facebook page you know….well he did mention it quite a few times….) emerged from behind a curtain.

After some stories about the pub, the local supposed witch Molly Leigh, some magic tricks and the introduction of his fire-eating assistant Igor, the main part of the evening began. We were taken on a tour of the cellars and then the rooms that had been forgotten and remained hidden for about 50 years. There was a lot of atmosphere building, tales of grisly deaths, Igor slamming doors to make us jump and more magic as we spent a good few hours traversing rooms frequented by James Brindley, Charles Darwin and Molly Leigh amongst other more fiendish guests….some of whom it was suggested still walk those self same corridors today….

resizedimage200150-a9These tales once brought the makers of some television programme called Most Haunted to do some filming there and is a constant site for visits by paranormal investigators. Whether you would choose to stay here once it has been refurbished into an actual hotel again is up to you….

resizedimage200150-a2So what I hear you cry is this doing on a photography club website? Well it’s here because throughout the night we were constantly being told to take pictures which we could upload to Chris Stokes’ facebook page….did I mention he has a facebook page?

And so most people were snapping away at tacky props, through holes in the roof where faces had apparently been seen and of Igor wearing a costume and mask. They were taking pictures of magic tricks, bath tubs where murders had apparently taken place and of Igor in his normal garb. Images were created of staircases with fake cobwebs and of apparitions created down dank and dusty corridors.

resizedimage150200-a3And the total number of cameras used? None. Not a one! Well not technically anyway as everyone was taking pictures on their phones, as well as some taking videos of course. I had thought of taking my trusty Nikon but didn’t want to be encumbered with it for the evening and had thought, well…I have my phone anyway…

Thus it was my iphone that took all the pictures on this page. Now, for once, I’m not going to give an opinion. The pictures are a record of what happened and thus stand up as documents of the evening but whether I would have got anything better with a DSLR given the circumstances is open to debate.

Would I have spent too much time getting the settings right and then missed things? Would I have been left behind and succumbed to ghostly spirits? Who knows! It was an enjoyable evening and at least I have some pictures to remind myself of the night.resizedimage200150-a4

I do wish I’d been able to capture the moment that Igor, in the pub afterwards, left his fire-eating equipment next to us and said ‘in case you want a go’ to us but even an iphone wasn’t ready for that! (I may try and recreate it though as we later found out that Igor is actually the partner of Teresa who joined the club recently!).

resizedimage150200-a5So, the conclusion? Well I don’t have one apart from to say to go along and enjoy the night yourselves; it’s not expensive at £25 per person. Should you take a camera or just use your phone? That is up to you! But do heed this warning….if they have the same entertainment in the pub afterwards….don’t get used to the part when he plays decent music by Madness and The Jam….because hell is to come as he then somehow gets everything wrong by covering Bon Jovi….how on earth can that happen? It was more horrifying than anything upstairs in the haunted rooms!