Staff working in the historic Jessops mill building in Batley have reported a number of ghostly happenings over recent years.
The mill is set to enjoy a new lease of life after Kirklees Council granted planning permission for the building to be redeveloped into 12 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments.
The permission also includes a ground-floor wine bar.
The 19th century mill building was originally home to George and Henry Jessop’s men’s tailoring business and has most recently been used as an auction room. The property’s reputation for paranormal activity stems from multiple staff accounts of spooky occurrences such as unexplained dark shadows and a rocking chair that apparently rocks without human assistance.
Ms Mary Dickinson, who lives in Goole, contacted The Yorkshire Post after reading about the plans for the mill’s future. She believed she could shed some light on the mystery.
She told The Yorkshire Post: “I am now 91-years-old with fond memories of working for the owners of the mill known as ‘Jessops the tailors’.
“For eight years from 1949/50 I was PA (personal assistant) to both Gilbert Jessop (managing director) and Mr Eatough, the firm’s accountant.”
According to Ms Dickinson, Mr Jessop’s brother had a passion for inventing.
“He had a room in the building which was permanently locked and no-one had (permission) to enter,” Ms Dickinson said.
The rumour was that this room was full of objects which Mr Jessop’s brother had invented, and he only visited the room at night, but “it was never proven that this was a fact”, said Ms Dickinson.
“This is why the stories of dark shadows and rocking chair noises were talked about by the workforce, some of whom had worked in the factory for years.”
“I moved away from Batley in 1958 and married a member of staff from one of the Jessop’s retail shops.”
Commenting on the mill’s potential, Will Thompson, associate director at property auctioneer Pugh, said last month: “This is an exciting development opportunity to create apartments and a wine bar in the centre of Batley. It’s a great location, with easy access to Leeds, Huddersfield and Bradford.”
He added: “Millions of pounds are being injected into towns across Kirklees as part of ongoing regeneration plans, including in Batley. There are lots of exciting changes happening in the town and it looks to be a sound place to invest.”
The property was sold at auction for £159,000 last month. The new owner's identity has not been revealed.
Mr Thompson said the building’s unusual reputation had added an element of curiosity at the auction.
During Victorian times, Batley was the centre of the textile trade in which wool, rags and clothes were recycled by reweaving them into blankets, carpets and uniforms. Dozens of mills were built in Batley during the 19th century. A number have been converted for residential and commercial uses in recent years.