The magnificent scale of the old St Joseph's Seminary building is still visible (Image: Craig and Joseph Wilson)

Haunting glimpse around abandoned Catholic college with a troublesome past

Liverpool Echo [Liverpool, England]

January 16, 2022

By Alan Weston

The college finally closed its doors in 1992 but is still a magnificent spectacle

[Photo above: The magnificent scale of the old St Joseph’s Seminary building is still visible (Image: Craig and Joseph Wilson)]

t would make a stunning location for a ghost story or a gothic Hammer horror film.

The abandoned St Joseph’s Seminary in Upholland near Skelmersdale, still presents an intriguing and haunting spectacle.

It saw its last batch of pupils leave in 1992, and now there are only faint remnants to be found of its former use. Among its notable alumni are St Helens-born comedian Johnny Vegas and Paddy McAloon, singer with 80s band Prefab Sprout.

The school has a long heritage and dates from a time when many young men wanted to train to become priests, welcoming its first pupils in 1883.

It was divided into a junior and senior seminary: the junior half provided a semi-monastic education to boys aged 11-18, while the senior half gave a more advanced religious training to 18-24-year-olds.

But in recent years shocking allegations have come to light regarding the abuse of boys who were preyed upon by perverted priests.

And at least three Catholic priests have been accused of abusing children at the facility, with several pupils having reported horrifying mistreatment at the hands of clergy who they should have been able to trust.

Former Darlington parish priest Michael Higginbottom was one of those who was jailed for 18 years for the sexual abuse of two boys in the 1970s and 80s at the college.

Needless to say, the grandeur and the history of the Grade II-listed building have proved a magnet for urban explorers, despite recent efforts being made to keep them out – including the construction of a metal fence along the perimeter of the 153-acre site.

The father-and-son team of Craig and Joseph Wilson managed to take pictures inside the grounds of the building – including what they thought were “three ghostly images” in the window under a clock.

Meanwhile the pictures inside the building were taken in 2019 by IT technician and keen photographer Scott Bradley.

The 36-year-old told the ECHO at the time: “There were some really strange rooms.

“One had like a steel door on it with a lock and inside was a mattress and metal bed frame. I have no idea what that room was used for. That was a bit creepy.”

In one harrowing picture a rat can be seen preserved on a leaf-covered windowsill – it’s teeth still intact and its tail trailing behind it.