The workshops building of HMP Shepton Mallet was built in the 1970s, and was used to teach practical skills to the inmates who would be seeking employment back on the outside. Things such as plastering, painting, woodwork. The four floors are uniquely designed to outfox anyone inside so that unless you know where you are, then frankly, you won't. It's a long dark corridored maze of echoing grimness. The windows are few and far between, and of course if you're in the bowels of the building you can't see out anyway, but what windows there are are those thick nasty unbreakable cubes through which you can see.... Nothing.
The workshops often get overlooked. They are horrible to look at from the outside, typically 70's in design, pretty ugly actually. But personally I've found that on my three visits within those bland-looking walls, EVP treasures were abundant and oh-so clear! Whether this is because the energies within are largely undisturbed because aside from the latest trend for Zombie Scare Mazes and the like, the general public don't get access. Therefore the paranormal groups that come in never get a whiff of the place, as they stick firmly to the old buildings within the prison walls only. The workshops are only accessible via a covered bridge from within the walls, or via the car park, which is sturdily locked off to the public unless for an event.
Once inside, it's quite scary actually. Especially in the dark. If you had torch failure it'd be like something out of a Stephen King novel, and I've had serious worries about going in alone just in case! You can just imagine the suffocating darkness. And, knowing what Chris and I now know about WHAT is inside, the creep factor would be through the roof. You don't need zombie actors and sets to get goosebumps in there - believe me, the real deal is far scarier. Why? Because it's real.
However, as I said, I have been in several times, and with my ghosting buddy Chris, which was a huge privilege, and we managed to sort-of get our bearings.
Chris would choose an area and get going with his motion detector cat-balls, and I'd be off recording. The results were astounding...
We made our way up up and up, until we came to some sort of maintenance room, and in the far corner was a door. On opening it, we were flooded by the gorgeous sunshine of a (rare) English summer's day! We'd made it onto the roof. From there, we could see the prison herself laid out below us. This would be the ultimate sunbathing site, I concluded, but our place that day was not basking-it up on the sun-drenched roof, but within, talking to the dead. Let it not be said that Chris and I don't know how to have a good time!
So what did we capture?
* A boy saying "I like her a*se!".
* A girl saying "Chris..."
* A west country lass declaring "We'll sing -- --- (sounds like toot toot).
* A man saying sarcastically, "Goodness!"
* A man asking "Who wants to keep this?"
* And possibly the same man saying, "Turn them off now!"
I feel that a return to the workshops is long overdue. And now, I have the supreme privilege of actually working at the prison as one of the three paranormal night supervisors! I work with two wonderful ladies Jo and Kate, and we are gradually finding our feet, getting to grips with the details of a site so special that we are all bursting with pride to be one of her guardians.
Last night poor Kate was put into the workshops by our boss who presumably wanted her to experience what it is like inside! I have since played her my Best Of the Workshops audio, and I think she's rather wishing I hadn't. Sorry lovely Kate!!
But really, what an amazing building it is, and what mind-blowing spirits lurk within. A veritable nest of phenomenal treasures...