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Past Times

Could Titanic links be fuelling horror haunting of former West Coast hotel room?

Warning! Not for the faint hearted. This article may make your hair stand on end and give you a dose of the heebie-jeebies. reports.
Susy Macaulay
Liz Miles in the haunted room at Pool House, and her relative Captain Edward Smith, master of the Titanic.  Image: DCT/Shutterstock
Liz Miles in the haunted room at Pool House, and her relative Captain Edward Smith, master of the Titanic. Image: DCT/Shutterstock

Confusion. Screaming. Running. Doors slamming. The bed lifting, the sound of something huge banging into the wall.

Above all, a feeling of absolute terror and panic.

When guest after guest tells you that they’ve experienced this in a room in your hotel, it’s hard to dismiss all of them.

Especially when one elderly gentleman ran screaming from the room in question in the middle of the night, fell down the stairs and later died of his injuries.

These events took place in the normally delightful Pool House hotel in Poolewe during a period roughly from 1991, when it was bought by Peter and Margaret Harrison, until about 15 years ago.

Liz Miles of Pool House, Poolewe in the troublesome bedroom. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Mr and Mrs Harrison’s daughter, Liz Miles, was heavily involved in the running of the hotel.

She was deeply sceptical of the guests’ claims until she decided to sleep in the room herself.

“I did wonder why so many people corroborated the same story.

“So it was November and I woke up between 2am and 3am hearing this racket.

Doors slamming, people running and screaming

“I could hear the doors, the feet running and people screaming.

“At first I thought, what on earth is going on?

“Then I thought hang on a minute, it’s November, we’re closed, there’s no-one here.

“So I fell out of bed and shot to the door, opened it and it was absolutely silent.

Some of the dolls in this room have allegedly mysteriously moved, had their boots taken off and their hair unplaited. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

“I thought I must have been having an incredibly realistic dream, I shut the door went back to bed and it started again.

“I knew I wasn’t dreaming, I was awake, so I put the light on, the noise in the corridor was still going, doors really slamming loudly and the next thing I heard was this enormous crash against the wall, I honestly thought something was coming through and as soon as that stopped, the bed started to move with me in it.

“That was it, I was out of there.

“It was exactly what other people had described but obviously so much worse when it’s happening to you, very unpleasant.”

Liz put her foot down. The room would no longer be let.

She pondered over her experience, guessing the unearthly panic and banging sounds might have been something to do with something like a fire, but there was no evidence of that.

Unimaginably strange

What emerged recently has proved far stranger than anyone could have imagined.

Pool House closed as a hotel a few years ago, but the Harrison family continue to open their home to visitors on guided tours, which Liz runs.

They bought the building as a 43-room hunting lodge, a male bastion of fishing and stalking, with plenty of rifles and decanters but not much in the way of decoration.

When the hotel closed and the family made the decision to open it for tours, they used objects from both Peter and Margaret’s sides of the family to theme and decorate each room.

The Titanic connection unfolds

Margaret is a Morrison from Lewis, with Mackenzie connections. But on her father’s side, she’s a Smith.

RMS Titanic of the White Star Line sinking around 2 20 AM Monday morning April 15 1912 after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Image: Design Pics Inc/Shutterstock </p> <p>

And her father’s cousin was none other than Captain Edward John Smith, master of none other than the RMS Titanic.

Captain Smith went down with the sinking ship amid scenes from the jaws of hell, shouting for the lifeboats to come back and pick more people up. (They didn’t).

A second Titanic connection in the family is another cousin, they don’t know his name, who was also on board and lost.

He was valet to Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line.

Bruce Ismay, director of White Star Line. Image: Action Press/Shutterstock</p> <p>

Ismay was on board the Titanic that fateful night of April 15, 1912 and managed to escape on one of the lifeboats— for which he was later castigated by society, but that’s another story.

The family also has a lot of Titanic-related memorabilia, including a spare of the original tiles used in the smoking room, light fittings made from original Titanic moulds, and even a shower of the type that was put into the first class guest rooms.

Clockwise from top: a light cast from an original mould made for Titanic first class; a jug from a replica White Star tea service; a bath/shower of the type made for Titanic albeit with original etched glass enclosure removed for safety reasons; a spare tile for the smoking room floor of the Titanic. Images: Sandy McCook/DCT

During the re-theming of the hotel rooms in 2020, the family decided to theme the small but horribly and allegedly haunted room as a children’s bedroom, and placed in it a number of vintage toys, including dolls from the early 1900s.

After that, the unexplained activity in the room began to ramp up to new levels.

Survivors of the RMS Titanic in one of her collapsible lifeboats, just before being picked up by the Carpathia. There are children on board and women are sharing in the rowing. Image: Design Pics Inc/Shutterstock

Remember, no-one stays in the room these days and it’s only ever visited by tour groups.

But staff say they now find the dolls have been moved from their original places, lying on the floor, shoes off, hair unplaited.

Just as if a little girl had been playing with them.

Startling explanation emerges

A few weeks ago, some kind of answer started to emerge as to what might be going on in that supposedly haunted room.

Liz said: “An engineer was visiting and he approached me saying, I don’t want to be weird or anything but I’ve got a gift where I sense things, and there’s something going on with that room.

“He told me his daughter is very disabled and bed-ridden but is a very gifted, or perhaps cursed, medium. She doesn’t need to visit a place, all she needs is a photo.

“He asked if he could send her a photo of the room on his phone.”

Liz agreed.

What came back from the medium was truly spine-chilling

The Titanic sinks as the lifeboats race to get away from being sucked down in her wake.  Image: Design Pics Inc/Shutterstock

“She said with our Titanic links and memorabilia, we have acted as a lighthouse or a beacon for people lost in the Titanic, including children.

“What guests were hearing is the extreme panic and confusion of that night.

“We don’t know why the activity takes place only in that room, but now that the toys are in it, it seems to be attracting the children lost at the time.”

The medium added that there is nothing horrible or evil in the room

“She said it’s just a very sad situation,” Liz said.

“She picks up strong sense of confusion with the children, they seem to know that they’re deceased but they don’t understand why some children were saved and they weren’t.

“What she came up with explains the panic, and the bed moving because the ship was filling with water and it was floating. The loud banging was the furniture moving and crashing about.”

Liz readily believes it seems to have been her family’s Titanic connections which created the paranormal activity in the room, although no-one has any idea why it is focused on that room.

Paranormal is normal at Pool House

But quite apart from the Titanic horror room, it appears there could be many other spirits in Pool House, hiding jewellery, playing the piano, or appearing very solid, as if on a loop, crossing the hall and disappearing into what is now a cupboard.

The house has an extraordinary and long history, which Liz reveals to guests on the tours she runs between April and October.

Anyone interested in the paranormal aspects of Pool House can join her on Thursdays at 3.30 for her ‘spooky tour’.  Not for the under-10s, she insists.

And no wonder.

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