TV ghost investigator reveals the Doncaster building he believes to be the borough’s most haunted.
There were rumours the house just outside Doncaster was haunted.
For many, that would be a reason to stay clear. But not for Doncaster librarian Phil Whyman and his wife Sara.
Instead, they decided to rent the property for 12 months and see what it was like.
After a pretty spooky year, they reckon the property they had been renting was haunted.
But the Whymans have a slightly different relationship with ghosts compared to most of us.
Phil, aged 48, now living near Carcroft, and working in Doncaster as a library supervisor, did his his first haunted house investigation as a 16-year-old schoolboy.
He went on to be a familiar face on television as one of the team taking part with former Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding on the show Most Haunted.
Since then, he has run ghost hunting tours of properties across the country, and had has now launched his own haunted house show on an online channel. Their 16-year-old son Ben Woodward is following in the family footsteps and has joined them on their new show, called Are You Haunted?
They have already taken the programme to Doncaster, running the rule over Thorne Sea Cadets’ base on Lock Hill, Thorne. In a previous era, it was part of the town’s workhouse.
He said: “I used to love reading about mysteries as a kid, and I was still at school when I did my first ghost investigation, at a friend and relative’s house. That was in Nottingham, and the strange noises turned out to be radiator pipes. I’ve been doing investigations ever since.”
His first job after leaving school was in computer repairs, but he went on to do private work as a supernatural investigator. People would come to him and say they had a house or a building where they did not know what was going on. Phil found most of the ‘mysteries’ were explainable. It was often down to a draught, or a door that did not close properly.
One case involving noises coming from a wall turned out to be a hamster which had become trapped in the wall cavity. It was freed from the cavity safe and well, but having lost some weight.
So they were aware of what caused many hauntings when they moved into the house, dating back to the 16th century, just over the border into Pontefract.
“It had a reputation for being haunted. And both Sara and myself and our son experienced things we couldn’t explain,” said Phil.
“Sara saw a figure in the middle of the hall one evening. I arrived home to find her outside waiting for me before she went back in.
“My son heard someone breathing in his room . We also heard old style door latches rattle.
“We were both curious about the paranormal, and had been investigators for a long time, so we jumped a the chance to live in a haunted house. Nothing nasty happened, but something definitely made us aware it was there.”
Phil is well known for his investigations.
He was chosen to appear on the Living TV show Scream Team in 2002. He was part of a group of people who toured in a bus investigating mysteries such as UFOs, strange beasts, and ghosts.
On that back of that, he was given a job on the show Most Haunted, on the same satellite channel, where his role was to be the skeptic looking for rational investigations on the programme which toured haunted houses with night cameras and a medium.
Over two years, he filmed 30 episodes and 14 live shows, before leaving to run his own ghost hunting events.
In October 2017, he and Sara decided to set up their own show, Are You Haunted?
It is currently running online, although they have aspirations to take it onto television.
The couple wanted to do a show which just relied on the presenters’ own senses, rather than any gadgets, and devised their own formula.
It starts with a conference between their team, made up of Phil, Sara and Ben, along with Jane Carrigan, from Knottingley, Tim Wagstaff, of Nottinhgam, and Dale Dickinson, from Mansfield. They discuss options of where to investigate, vote on which one to do, and then head for the venue.
Dave Redmile, who runs the sea cadets in the town, told them he used to find a tray of chalk crayons that were used to teach the cadets on the floor in his office no a regular basis. He originally thought it was the cadets doing it, but added further investigation showed that it was not.
He said he had also had a report of a female colleague thinking she had just seen him in his upstairs office, before seeing him downstairs. She was the only person upstairs in the building at the time. “She's seen something,” he told the show.
At the end of the show, they pass their verdict – haunted or not haunted.
During their night at the Thorne Sea Cadets, the group reported hearing mysterious footsteps, slamming doors, and the mysterious, unexplained sound of breathing.
They played back their footage to reach their verdict.
“We’ve had some really good feedback,” said Phil.
The sea cadets HQ is one of a number of buildings Phil has investigated, along with the Doncaster Aeroventure aircraft museum at Lakeisde, St Catherine's Hospital at Balby, and Cusworth Hall.
Of those he said: “St Catherine’s had some strange things going on, but the strangest thing was at Aeroventure.
“It had an old bell alarm, which was not even wired up. But despite that, it went off. We couldn’t work that out at all.”
After their investigation at Thorne, he felt the sea cadets building was the most haunted place he had visited in Doncaster.
But feels the spookiest place he has visited in this 32 years of paranormal investigation was in Wales.
He said: “When I did Most Haunted we went to a place call Crag Y Nos Castle in Wales. That was a strange one. It had a very foreboding atmosphere. There are various degrees of thickness in an atmosphere, but that was somewhere I found quite stifling.”