Conway Mill

Conway Mill
Belfast, Antrim, Ireland.

Part of the old Conway Mill dates to 1842. A second block was added in the early twentieth century and by that time, it was under the management of the Falls Flax Spinning Company.

The complex ceased operations as a mill in 1976 but it was brought into use again in the 1980s as a hub for small businesses – including a print shop which is referenced in a few eyewitness accounts attributed in other online sources to Flax House.

Over the years, workers reported seeing the ghost of a man in a green coat walking along a corridor towards a lift, before ascending a spiral staircase. Some have also encountered a man in black here, believed to be one of the supervisors. Other reports reference strange noises – even growling – in the corridors. The sound of a woman crying, and distinct, sudden temperature changes have all been noted.

According to historian Richard Felix, the area surrounding an old service lift in this building is where the story of Helena Blunden originated. But I am still not sure! Helena’s story is an intriguing one though, so I shall recount it and you can make up your own mind.

In the early twentieth century, conditions in linen mills were brutal. Hours were long, the work was tedious and exhausting and given the extreme heat generated by operations, it was not uncommon for workers to pass out or to develop illnesses including typhoid. Condensation would also form on the ceilings in certain parts of the mill, dripping down the walls and on to the floor. According to Helena’s story, a woman was tasked with mopping the stairwells to keep this condensation problem at bay.

On the 14th of April 1912 (the day the Titanic sank), Helena – who was just 16 years old, had completed a long shift and was rushing out to attend a concert, when she tripped over a mop. She fell down the stairs and was fatally injured. It is said that her ghost has haunted the mill ever since, with many appearances reported over subsequent decades. At one point in the 1990s, sightings of a female ghost were so frequent that a live feed was setup so that viewers could keep a vigil.

Unlike Flax House, I have no doubt that the Conway Mill is haunted. It has been completely refurbished in recent years and you can go and visit it. Paranormal investigations also take place in the building from time to time. Interestingly, I have watched a couple of videos of these investigations, and unless I skipped a crucial moment, I heard no reference to Helena Blunden. Bar management positions, the workforce in the mills was predominantly female, so the ghost people claimed to have seen on the live link, whether it was here or in another mill, could have in fact been someone else entirely.

So, was the life of Helena Blunden – a bright, talented young woman really cut short, or is this just an urban myth. What do you think? Have you encountered anything strange at Conway Mill, or even at Flax House? Click “Share Your Experience” above!

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Further Information

Venue Name
Classification(s)
Retail / Office
Address
5-7 Conway Street, Belfast, Antrim, BT13 2DE, Ireland

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