HUNDREDS of historic buildings are throwing open their doors over the next few days to give visitors behind-the-scenes tours into the past as part of a series of Heritage Open Days. Reporter KATIE MERCER goes back stage at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall.

WITH its freshly painted snow-white walls and newly-refurbished cafe bar, visitors would be forgiven for thinking that King George’s Hall was keeping its past exactly there.

But a closer look reveals that Blackburn’s first public halls is, in fact, more in touch with its heritage than ever before.

A recent refurbishment uncovered an original Italian marble floor and in June, the Lancashire Telegraph reported how a builder working on the renovation, Dave Williamson, returned a lettings book featuring listings from 1936-1937.

Elsewhere, displays of pop memorabilia from the 60s and 70s adorn the walls and the various suites and lounges are named after 1930s opera singers and royal family members.

A guided tour of the Blakey Moor hall reveals the glitz and glamour of showbusiness, as well as a few surprises - stage lights, show tunes and sopranos.

And as technical operations manager and tour guide Howard Alderson-Perkins explained, even the dead don’t seem to want to leave.

The tour will guide history buffs around the balconies, the Kathleen Ferriah lounge, the dressing rooms and mixing desks before taking a stroll behind the stage, to a corridor which some believe to be haunted.

Howard said: “A lot of people believe that a man died in the organ room.

“He was working with the organs and fell into one of the big bass pipes and no-one could save him.

“In June last year, some ghost hunters came and reported their findings - and there were a lot of findings!

“They said they’d seen a man in a top hat whose face had been damaged and even some slum children running around these corridors and sitting down to watch the shows.”

Howard has never seen a ghost himself, but can recount tales of unexplained and strange events in the back rooms over his 34-year career.

Communications manager, Toni Comer said: “I hate walking down there.

"It’s really dark and spooky. I think anyone would be scared around there.”

The idea for a public hall to be built dates back to 1885 when a proposal to build the venue was first raised.

At the time, the area was described as being covered with ‘houses of poor character’, some of which had been classified as uninhabitable.

The planning and building took a long time to complete, as construction was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War but finally, the opening ceremony was performed by Lord Derby on October 21 in 1921.

A heritage guided tour will take place tomorrow at 10.30am.

Call 0844 847 1664 to book your place.