Construction information and photographs.

This page gives an insight into the design and build of the Haunted House; it also highlights the people involved and their roles.

The Haunted House came about when Alton Towers realised that the perceptions of the park by the visitors showed that it was seen as a teenager and young adults' entertainment venue. The management decided that this image had to change and a new direction to family entertainment was required. Also Disneyland Paris was due to open and Alton needed to introduce a new area to help keep them a head of the game. Originally a wooden rollercoaster was planed, through the gardens but this was rejected by planners and from this the runaway mine train and haunted house were built in its place. The plan was huge and would be developed in phases. Phase one would be to incorporate a Runaway Mine Train into an area around the Congo river rapids and flume, and this area would be rethemed into an African mining township called Katanga Canyon. It was also thought important to add gloomy wood to an area located between Katanga Canyon and Thunder Valley. The Haunted House ride would become a jewel in the Alton Towers crown for theming and experience. The ride took just over two years from ride design to opening day.

Haunted House Year of Design 1990

Haunted House Year of Opening March 1992

Haunted House Year of Closure 2002

Haunted House Reopens as Duel the Haunted House Strikes Back 2003


The People Behind The Magic

Director of Tussauds Park Development

John Wardley

Alton Towers Haunted House Designer

Originally John's idea to create the Haunted House was to link up the Katanga Canyon and Forbidden Valley. John thought it was important that the dark ride was situated in this particular place. To help people move between the areas and allow people to reach the Thunder Looper. After the Haunted House was built it was discovered that the Thunder Looper had to go due to planning issues. This meant that Thunder Valley needed a new attraction and this is how Nemesis came about.

For people who do not know the background of John Wardley a full biography can be found on his website, which can be visited through the links page. Johns' fascination for the world of rides stems from his family upbringing. His Auntie and Uncle were illusionist and he spent time with them getting to know how to create trick props. He began at an early age to recreate some of these props and this sparked his imagination to find work doing the thing he loved. He went to drama school and learned about stage management and then went from there to work as a stage manager at the Theater Royal Windsor. Whilst there he began working for Bray studios and Pinewood studios developing props and special effects. From here John went on to develop parts of Barry Island amusement park. This was his springboard into the world of theme parks and ride development.

Directors of Sparks Group/Sparks Creative Services

Keith Sparks

Kevin Finn

Project Manager Nick Pudney
Technical Director Sparks Group

Technical design, lighting, sound, control systems and special effects.

Creator of the POD control system and multiview CCTV system. Now runs the electrical company Technovations based in Colchester.

Graham Owens
Technical/ Wiring Sparks Group Mick Walsh
Nick Owens
Electrical Subcontractors
Main Electrical Supply
RG Woodward

Workshop and Site Manager Sparks Group Designed and built scenery to the haunted house.

Charles Cave

Scenic Construction Subcontractors
Scenic Artwork UV Artwork and Sculpture
Head of REX Studio
Bruce Carter

Scenic Subcontractor

Created the model for the attraction and also the creatures that lived within the Haunted House.

Donald Owens

Artwork Subcontractors

Portraits,UV Paintwork and scienic painting

Alan Harvey
Nigel Webb

Daniel Harvey

Tussards Art Department

Sparks Group Designer

Also redesigned the ghost corridor into the skeleton corridor.

Barry Lee
Engineering Sparks Group Jeremy Bloomfield
Engineering Subcontractors

MC Seton
Mike Seton
Terry Lloyd

Andrew Harworth

External Construction Mike Blackman's Scenic Construction Company
Haunted House Transit System


Kurt Even

Herr Hans Drier

Audio and Visual Director Kevin Finn
Keith Sparks

Peppers Ghost Effect

Audio and Visual


Robin Garton



Sir Henry Alton Kieth Sparks
Emily Alton Lucy Webb
Haunted House Score Beulah Studios Cardiff
The Sinister Garden Graham Smart
The Vestibule Graham Smart
The Trommel Graham Smart
The Giant Graham Smart
The Chase Graham Smart
The Escape Graham Smart
Haunted House Sound Effects Director Kevin Finn

Sound Engineers Portwell Studios

Spot sound effects

John Franklin

Teresa Franklin

Emily Alton Vocal Lucy Webb
Are you Scared of Spiders? Victoria Webb
Dinning room Demon: I didn't mean to frighten you! Dick Graham
The Undertaker's laugh. The Screaming room Demons and Flying Ghost. David Tate
Giant: 'I'm going to get you!' and Splitface Kevin Finn
Special Effects    

Haunted House Foggers Mist Machines

Themed Aromas  
Musty   Dale Air
Garden Shed   Dale Air

Alton Towers Development and Estates Maintenance Manager

  Damian Varley

Alton Towers Divisional Director of Operations

  Alan H Brown

Alton Towers Director of Presentation

  Martin Barrett

Alton Towers Manager of Presentation

  Clive Stevens


Construction Photographs


The original sign for the haunted house and runaway mine train.

New for 92

The footings for the main steel framework.
Footings for the facade of the haunted house..
Footings for the haunted house. The JCB is situated in what will be the drawing room of the haunted house.
Footings for the facade of the haunted house.
Footings for the the haunted house.
Internal view looking towards the shop.
The steel work is completed.
This picture shows the supports for the front apex of the main entrance.
This picture shows the footings for the drawing room. If you look closely you can see the footings mark out the base for the large windows, which segregate the original disabled access from the main drawing room. The well created is to enable the tilted floor to be added.
This boxing is put in place ready for the concrete floor. It will make a space ready for the turntable in the poltergeist room.
This is the well built to house the Trommel tunnel.
The steel structure used to support the facade of the haunted house.
Looking through the doorway into the drawing room and ride station.
This image shows the front construction with the shuttering in place for the staircase. Notice the girders in place for the main house construction and the warehouse building housing the ride behind.
The timber work begins on the facade of the haunted house building.
The fire escape tunnel within the ride.
The construction of the ride station begins.
Wicked Things food building under construction, one of the last structures to be built.
Something Sinister shop under construction.The front of this building no longer looks like this.
The tower part built with the wooden 'A' frames in place to take the roof structure.
The shuttering has now been removed from the staircase.
A shot taken from inside the graveyard. No planting or graves in place yet.
The main entrance to Gloomy Wood via Katanga Canyon
Exterior near completion.
The tomb is put in place.
The Haunted House Alton Towers gravestone .
Wicked Things food outlet, was originally going to be an arcade area.
Finishing touches to the fencing around the tomb.
The complete facade of the magnificent Haunted House.
The joiner creating the drawing room paneling.
The fireplace without its fire. Note the model of the drawing room on the mantelpiece.
John Wardley pays a visit to see how the work is coming along. The dolls house is now in place.
The ghostly chair in the workshop, awaiting the books pages and its transportation to the haunted house.
The ghostly chair in its orginal position beside the fireplace.
The poltergeist room with access hatch to the maintenance bay open.
The poltergeist room facing the grand dining room.
The Grandhall
The Grandhall
Nick Owens using a piece of wood to mark out the places for the Flambauxs.
The dungeon walls leading to Trommel
Nick Owens using a piece of wood to mark out the places for the Flambauxs.
Nick Owens using a piece of wood to mark out the places for the Flambauxs.
'Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.' the sign before the Trommel
Trommel prior to paint work and mirror ball eyes.

Nick Owens using a piece of wood to mark out the places for the Flambauxs
Nick Owens using a piece of wood to mark out the places for the Flambauxs
The giants fingers await painting.

The giants head awaiting its finishing touches.

Glass panels were added to the arched windows.


The Giant Spider inside the haunted house.

The ghost corridor, the bust from the ride station are seen in this photo, no one is sure if the busts were meant to be situated here but by opening day they had been moved and were in the ride station; where they remain to this day.

Also notice the skull lights on the floor behind the large elaborate wooden frames were replaced before opening day and metal ones were used.

The large terrifying ghost from the ghost corridor. This would swoop down over you from behind and disappear around a corner. Three of these ghost were created.
The cloisters, home of the monk. Notice that the fragile track is covered over to prevent damage to the complicated structure.
Final adjustments are made to the hearse in preparation for painting.
The Lunatic.
Death awaiting painting.
The moving wall and falling gazebo.
The pillar demon.
The falling tree which would crash down when the lightening struck.
The infamous swamp monster. This effect was very short lived as it would often fail to rise.
Tigger was designed to spring up from the darkness, however he was too heavy and his mechanism would jam.
The two gargoyles, only the far one would house the monster.
The ride exit under construction.
The way out, this balustrade would end up with glass panels fitted.
Looking down towards the exit to the shop.

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