Mysterious happenings and voices of the dead – what happened when I went on a ghost hunt at RAF Binbrook

It’s Saturday evening, a time many would reserve for seeking out the finer things in life but, instead, I’m looking for things that are dead.

There is a bar here but it’s past closing time, and there are people – 40 at least – yet there is nothing but the disconcerting, yet somehow comforting, silence only found far from the ceaseless roar of civilisation. Inside this remote, unassuming and perfectly innocuous village hall, the darkness is all-consuming except for a piercing blueish light shining on a table. Taped on its surface are the 26 letters of the alphabet, as well as the words “yes” and “no”.

Around it sit four people – watched by those three dozen others – who each have their index fingers gently resting on the base of an upturned glass. With all eyes fixated on the table, something rather strange is happening. Slowly and deliberately, the glass is scraping across its surface, echoing hollowly as it does. It probably shouldn’t be, but it is.


With that, the vacant hush is broken by an atonal din not unlike a metal detector on a beach after a busy summer’s day and a lot of empty pockets. It’s a device in the corner – a REM pod – triggered by distortions in its tiny electromagnetic field. It’s sensed something. But what?

The azure light continues to seep through white wisps of breath in the frigid, February air. The glass moves faster, more determined.

Volunteers take part in a glass reading at the former RAF Binbrook
Volunteers take part in a glass reading at the former RAF Binbrook back in 2018

A voice at the table asks innocently: “Do you know you’re dead?” With a certain inevitability, the glass ambles assuredly to my left. “Yes”.

Later, a recording of this attempt to commune with those beyond the grave would reveal what seems to be the sound of a child’s voice – you can listen to this yourself above – but there was nobody nearby who wouldn’t be old enough to buy a pint if that bar had still been open.

It’s a peculiar experience to watch; superficially ludicrous yet, presented in front of you, is remarkably sane and not at all like the televised hysteria of Most Haunted. But was it really the ethereal remnants of a life long lost that wanted to have a last word, or did those at the table write the whole sentence? Were they really channelling the dead, or were they just seeing what they wanted to see, and hearing what they wanted to hear in a sort of collective belief with their senses sharpened in the darkness?

These were among the many questions I sought the answer to back in 2018, as I joined True Paranormal Events UK, a crew from YouTube channel Ultimate Haunted UK, and a gang of curious novice ghost-hunters to investigate something strange in the Brookenby neighbourhood.

No ordinary haunted house

The tiny village is, of course, built around the former RAF Binbrook, and the building I’m in is the Brookenby Community Centre, which was the sergeants’ mess once upon a time. The site was a Bomber Command station following its establishment in 1940 and later became the home of the Central Fighter Establishment. It was in service for almost half a century and was home to the legendary Lancaster Bombers right through to the Lightning jets.

But why would an RAF base be home to such an array of lost souls? Since closing in the late 1980s, visitors have reported objects being thrown, people getting pushed, full ghost sightings, doors slamming and loud heavy footsteps. There are stories of an Australian worker on the base who blew himself up trying to sabotage a Lancaster bomber in a revenge plot during the Second World War but, aside from the drive in pitch blackness through narrow tree-lined country lanes, you initially get the impression even Stephen King would struggle to bring a sense of unease to this place.

Paul Marsters, of True Paranormal Events UK, in the theatre at Brookenby Community Centre where unusual activity has been seen
Paul Marsters, of True Paranormal Events UK, in the theatre at Brookenby Community Centre where unusual activity has been seen

It’s a building of contrasts and doesn’t exactly wear its haunted heritage on its sleeve. While the shadowy abyss of the former escape tunnel in the cellar ticks the spooky horror film boxes, the immaculate shiny-floored studio on the second floor is just like any ordinary gymnasium. Taekwondo classes are held there on Wednesdays. Downstairs, the theatre, reputed to be the most haunted room in the whole place, features a stage gaudily dressed with sparkly foil curtains like a school Christmas play. The Addams Family mansion it is not.

Yet, appearances can be deceiving. I’m told a sceptical ghost-hunter on a previous night was suddenly and inexplicably struck with a sensation of sickness in the studio after declaring the whole exercise, to put it politely, akin to excrement. “Something heard her and didn’t like it”, said Paul Marsters, one of the event’s organisers.

Paul has been here more than a few times and is convinced of its supernatural aura but admits himself he’s not sure why it’s so haunted. If anything, that lack of stereotypical spookiness adds a shot of believability to the chase for spectres.

Showing me round the west wing – arguably the spookiest part of the complex with its imposing, derelict corridors of creaking doors and upturned furniture – he tells me how people will see shadows in windows, hear footsteps and feel the temperature drop. It’s not just those looking for evidence of ghostly activity who feel something is amiss. Brookenby parish clerk Sam Coulam works in the building but won’t hang around for the spirits to arouse.

She said: “We just have strange things happening after we have these events. Hot water urns will stop working, the CCTV will go funny. Certain areas just feel eerie, but other areas are absolutely fine. I have an office upstairs but I won’t use it, I work from home.”

Paul says paranormal activity has “intensified” in recent weeks following a number of visits and he wanted extra people present to enhance the energy, which he says increases the likelihood of paranormal occurrences.

How a ghost emerging from the old cellar and former escape tunnel at Brookenby Community Centre might look
How a ghost emerging from the old cellar and former escape tunnel at Brookenby Community Centre might look

Tales as old as time

Guests were still filtering in when I returned to the theatre on the other side of the building having been in there with Paul a few minutes earlier. The lights were off when we left, but now they were switched on. Nobody had been in there since. Spooky.

I’d previously read the playful spirit of a child is said to haunt the corridors, acting mischievously when the opportunity for a bit of light poltergeist tomfoolery crops up. Could it be him? I remained sceptical.

I did so after the aforementioned glass reading too but, then, there was never going to be concrete, irrefutable evidence or ghosts would be as widely accepted as the delights of chocolate. They sit on a centuries-old fence between science and myth, and one night in the dark was not going to change that.

There’s probably something in the fact that the never-shifting state of ghosts as unfalsifiable legend rather perfectly reflects the eternal limbo the alleged spirits find themselves in. Many cynics will aggressively wax indignant about their own supposed greater intellect and rationality by refusing to entertain any suggestion something never proven after thousands of years could possibly be real. We gain great comfort from believing we are in control of our world.

Admittedly, there is no doubt the human mind has a tendency to dream up otherworldly explanations to strange occurrences, which is both a flaw and the seed of artistic endeavour. But there is so much we don’t know. For instance, we can sense and observe barely five per cent of what makes up our universe, with the rest classified as hypothetical “dark energy” and “dark matter”, named for its intangibility.

Life after death, while physically irrational, is of universal intrigue. We’ll all find out one day but, if believers in any sort of afterlife are wrong, we won’t even realise.

The studio upstairs at Brookenby Community Centre where there have been numerous cases of paranormal phenomenon reported
The studio upstairs at Brookenby Community Centre where there have been numerous cases of paranormal phenomenon reported

Connecting with the spirits

If there is a spirit world, it certainly seems to be as busy as you may imagine on a planet where hundreds of millions have died over the years as I discovered when we moved into the theatre. There, medium Trevor Webster was joined on the stage by around ten or so volunteers who formed a circle while holding hands.

This séance attempted to communicate with any loitering spirits who would channel their otherworldly energy through a person in the group, gently pushing them forwards and backwards to indicate “yes” and “no”. Though to some the prospect of trying to stir up phantoms may seem terrifying, the system at play here is more benevolent and, having experienced it, disarmingly tranquil.

It seems to follow the traditional ghost trope of the restless, eternally wandering spectres such as Hamlet’s father and those poor sinful souls in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to the procrastinating spirits stuck in an earthbound limbo due to “unfinished business” who may then head towards the “light”, like Patrick Swayze in Ghost and that friendly ghoul Casper.

It wasn’t long before Trevor “connected” with a spirit. The first was, somewhat expectedly, a Second World War pilot who was with Lancaster bomber command before dying on a mission. Another one, supposedly a comedian of Scottish gentry, began “messing” everyone about.

Occasionally, questions which “angered” the spirits were responded to with a more vigorous shove. Though I was apparently witnessing a ghost pushing somebody, what struck me most was how stoic and focused everyone in the circle was. They were standing rigid for at least 25 minutes but most didn’t seem particularly restless or agitated.

Naturally, I expected anyone who was being pushed by an unseen force to be petrified, but this was not the case. After the séance, one girl calmly said it felt like someone was “holding” her.

Guests around a glass reading table in the hall at Brookenby Community Centre
Guests around a glass reading table in the hall at Brookenby Community Centre

Later, a human pendulum was held upstairs during which a spirit was similarly asked to push on a guest to “yes” or “no” questions. This time, a woman was allegedly almost possessed.

Paul described what happened, saying: “The guest was laughing like a spirit wanted to get in her. We found out that there was married couple in the theatre and the male had an affair with the female upstairs.

“Ultimate Haunted had a light device and, when he asked the spirit to walk away to the left, it went from red, blue, yellow and white, and then went off.”

Meanwhile, guests who were in the toilet asked somebody to tap on mirror twice and, after they did it, something tapped back.

The ‘fascination with the unknown’

With all these creepy goings-on, I asked Trevor, who has been in mediumship for around eight years, why those apparently being influenced by spirits did not seem to fear it.

He said: “It depends who you get in the group, sometimes they are scared. But there was a chap just now who said he’d come with an open mind but, now he’s experienced it, he believes it.”

I was also interested to hear how Trevor knows what questions to ask and how he can conjure up elaborate stories of past lives from “yes” and “no” answers. He said: “I close my eyes and it’s like an internal screen. It varies; sometimes I get images I have to decipher while other times I can hear them speaking to me.”

Clever storytelling or something mystical? Either way, Trevor says he isn’t out to convince anyone, rather do what he does and let people decide themselves. “You do get a lot of people on these things who are believers, as well as sceptics, and then you get people with an open mind,” he said.

“We don’t try to convince them, they take away from it what they want. We just let people make their own minds up. I tend to debunk stuff if I don’t think it’s anything. If someone’s shuffling their feet I’ll say so.

“If it was like Yvette Fielding shrieking, it just trivialises it. It makes it seem phoney. That’s why, when I was up there, I said affect anybody other than me because, if it’s me, I could say anything.”

Michael Postlethwaite, of Ultimate Haunting UK, films one the derelict rooms at the former RAF Binbrook
Michael Postlethwaite, of Ultimate Haunting UK, films one the derelict rooms at the former RAF Binbrook

It’s that honesty and lack of preachiness which make the whole exercise easier to swallow and, when all is said and done, nothing is going to stop the unquenchable human desire to explore life’s mysteries. Trevor added: “It’s a fascination with the unknown. It’s not so much taboo these days as it’s been in vogue the past few years but it’s like if you see a button with ‘do not push’ on it, you want to push it.

“It’s human nature to be drawn to scary things, that’s why people go to theme parks. Do we just die and that’s just it or is there is more out there? I know what I know and I know what I believe and I’m not going to force it on anyone else. But, sometimes, it does change people’s perspective.”

To find out more about that latest events, visit the True Paranormal Events UK Facebook page.

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