This permanent exhibition is weird enough all on its own. Based on the extensive collection of Robert Ripley (1890-1949), an American eccentric who travelled extensively and could not resist acquiring strange objects from wherever he went.
Blackpool’s collection includes shrunken heads and fertility statues. One of the latter has been in the Blackpool exhibit for several years and the museum claims over a thousand pregnancies can be attributed to its other-wordly powers.
Even odder, Ripley’s Odditorium was once truly haunted, by the shade of a woman in the building’s cellar area; the ‘vaults’. The ghost was believed to be attached to a skull, which had been loaned to the Odditorium. The skull belonged to a local man, Mr Boardman, who claimed he had bought it years before in an Oxfam shop and believed it to belong to a 16th century girl who had been buried on the site of the Foxhall Hotel.
Mr Boardman believed the skull to be the cause of several strange events which followed his purchase of the ancient object. He felt that his home was haunted by ghostly figures connected to the skull and a run of bad luck led him to think the skull was actually cursed. His own grandmother had begged him to get rid of the object – two days later, she was involved in a car accident, which killed her. During the time the skull was on loan to the Odditorium, the skull went missing and Mr Boardman warned that if anyone tried to sell or destroy it, they might well suffer similar fates. The skull was found some weeks later, abandoned in a side-street.
Finally, after years of living in fear of the haunted skull and tiring of accusations that he was somehow involved in witchcraft, Mr Boardman decided to rid himself of the skull once and for all and put it into the safe-keeping of a local priest, Father Hughes. Two weeks later, Mr Boardman was found dead, having apparently died in his sleep.
(Text and Image copyright Melanie Warren 2013)