Plans to turn '˜haunted' Houghton pub into Costa Coffee shop
A rumoured to be haunted historic former Houghton pub could be turned into a branch of a national coffee chain should plans get the green light.
Developers are hoping to turn the former Robbie Burns pub, in the town’s Newbottle Street, into a Costa Coffee outlet.
The company is one of the country’s biggest employers with more than 40,000 staff.
It is not yet known how many jobs could be created with the opening of the new venue.
According to Houghton historian Paul Lanagan, records for the Robbie Burns pub date back to 1851 when John Ray was landlord.
He had moved to Houghton after one of his sons had run away to sea, while his elder son had left home on account of disagreements with their stepmother.
Being the closest drinking hole to Houghton’s theatres, which were located opposite, the watering hole was often awash with players, performers and musicians once the curtains had gone down.
Writing on the houghtonlespring.org.uk website, Mr Lanagan added that in the 1980s unexplainable activity at the pub was reported, featuring stories of poltergeist activity and four ghosts.
One ghost was that of an old woman wearing black who was seen to melt into the wall.
Several customers and a member of staff saw the silhouette of a man move through the pub; and the apparition of a young, fair haired child, wearing Victorian style clothing has also been seen.
The fourth ghost was said to be that of Thomas Caldwell.
He was allegedly killed in the cellar of the Robbie Burns in 1876.
After a delivery of beer, he was found in the cellar with his head crushed underneath a beer barrel.
It was only when the barrel was moved by well-meaning rescuers that the air rushed into his brain cavity and he died.
Electrical disturbances, strange noises and slamming doors on the premises are attributed to Thomas’s tormented spirit.
An application has now been submitted by developers to put Costa branded signage on the front of the two-storey building.
A consultation over the plans, which can be seen on Sunderland City Council’s planning portal, ends on Tuesday, August 23.
A decision over whether to approve the signage proposals is expected to be made in September.