Friday, 24 July 2009

Ghost Galleries.....


From The Archives...

On Friday, January the 26th, 2007, the W.M. Ghost Club hosted a large-scale investigation of the Galleries Of Justice in Nottingham. The event was expertly organised and co-ordinated by W.M.G.C. member Kevin Wallace.

To anyone interested in the more popular, allegedly haunted sites, the Galleries Of Justice will need no introduction. Serving as the focal point of Nottinghams 'penal concerns' since the 14th Century, the building has become somewhat famous as a place of potential paranormal significance over the past decade. During it's heyday, the property had the unenviable distinction of being one of the few places where someone could actually be 'arrested, held, sentenced and executed', all in the same small space! In more recent times, the building has featured in an episode of Living T.V.'s 'Most Haunted' and frequently draws considerable numbers of paranormal enthusiasts.... both through private investigations and the more commercial, 'ghost hunting' ventures.

Our own investigation of the site involved some 23 people in total and focussed on 6 different sections of the building which have previously been associated with alleged paranormal activity. Each region - court rooms, cells, pits, caves, laundry and transportation / courtyard area - was visited by four different teams, rotating around the building, during the course of the night.

While the overnight event passed reasonably quietly, a number of potentially interesting incidents were experienced by different members of the four teams. A brief summary of the group reports - edited by Kev Wallace - follows:

Galleries of Justice Investigation - Summary of findings:

The Laundry

Team Three 10.30pm to 11.10pm:

10.48pm - In the bedroom area of the laundry, Amanda is sitting on the bench in front of the window and reports seeing a hand in front of her. At first she thought it was Andy who was sitting to her right, but his hands were in his lap and he says he hadn’t moved them.

Amanda also feels that someone is sitting the left of her on the bench in the corner. (no one there).

In the main room of the laundry Dawn and Ellen report smelling old fashioned tobacco smoke.

11.00pm - In the bedroom, Dawn says she can smell a laundry smell.

11.02pm - Amanda is sitting back in the same place where she saw the hand when there is the loud click of a torch button followed by Amanda’s torch coming on which was resting on her lap. To actually turn the torch on requires some force and Amanda confirms she did not turn it on. . Her hands were by her sides and Ellen confirmed this.

11.07pm - Were all now in the bedroom and we here a thud from outside the room itself.

We do some calling out to the room and there were 3 thud noises coming from the bed which no one was sitting on.
Dawn reports seeing alight appear by the bench in the corner and disappear quickly.

Team Two 11.30pm-12.10am:

Video camera set up in the main room facing the entrance doorway. "Rattling ball" trigger object placed on the floor in the middle of the room. Claire, Diane and Donna spread within all three rooms within eye sight of each other. Steve situated in corner of the main area, directly behind the camera.

Nothing of apparent paranormal interest to report. However Claire at various times throughout her time in the centre room stated she could smell "Urine" and again, at odd intervals, too numerous to record the time, noticed light affect on the outside stairs, "like someone with a torch" viewable through a window directly in front of her. On investigation Steve also witnessed this but dismissed as possible car head lights reflected somehow from the road or simply from the activities of another team.

On examination of the video camera evidence, strangely after set up the camera does not record anything, although the record button was pressed at the time?

Team One 12.30am to 1.10am:

Group members were mainly situated in the ‘Bedroom’ section of this area throughout the vigil. Len Jackson took up a position – seated - just outside the doorway to the bedroom. Casual conversation was held throughout. Helen ran a (hand-held) video recording for the bulk of the session.

At one point during the vigil, Julia – seated in the corner of the bedroom area – reported that one of her legs had suddenly gone quite cold.

Team Four 3.40am to 4.20am:

The room where the bed is felt an uneasy room. Fiona and Nick reported feeling a presence but nothing was seen or heard.

Cell Block Area

Team Two 10.20pm-11.00pm:

Video camera set up at far end of corridor, facing down towards the centre of the building. No trigger objects used. Due to the size of area to cover, Claire, Tom, Donna and Diane all rotated, taking alternate turns in all available cells during the vigil. Steve patrolled the corridor.

Due to Steve's cough getting worse, Steve decided to vacate the area away from all other groups. Choosing to stand at the top of the outside stairs looking down on to the exercise yard.

At precisely 11.00pm Steve noticed that the light from the corridor facing the entrance to the Transportation, from the left of viewing, was momentarily "blocked out" as if someone walked across the corridor. Steve did not pursue this in the belief this effect was caused by a member of another team. And not wanting to disrupt another Teams vigil. On eventually checking and reporting findings with other Team Leaders, now apparent, no one from any of the teams was in the vicinity at that time and the person would have to have been walking from wall to wall, rather than down the corridor to cause this affect. (It has since come to light another team member may have caused this while exploring a noise heard form the chapel area).

11.06pm - Steve notes the up until now, peaceful, calm and relaxing atmosphere of the yard changed. To become, momentarily threatening as if being watched. This "feeling" lasted about 25 seconds then resumed its previous ambience.(Steve concedes this feeling may have come to mind in relation to the very recent experience.)

Nothing of possible paranormal nature happened during the rest of the vigil to all other members of the party.

On examination, after six minutes of recording, the camera picked up a distant female shriek/wail, but as a lot of sound was actually picked up from the surrounding streets, it is a possibility this occurrence isn’t of paranormal nature.

Team One 11.30pm to 12.10am:

Group moved around different sections of the Cells Area for the duration of the visit. Casual conversation held throughout. Helen ran a (hand-held) video recording for the bulk of the session.

During the vigil, Adam reports that, while he was standing in the corner of the Dark Cell, he detected something that sounded like ‘breathing’ on a couple of occasions from behind him.

While the vigil was in progress, a couple of the cell doors were moved by team members, resulting in quite loud, high pitched squeaking noises. In light of comments later made by Team Four – situated below us in the Transportation Area at the time – it has to be kept in mind that these noises may have tainted the other groups observations.

*Note* – Just prior to the beginning of Vigil Three, two video cameras (set facing each other) and a mannequin trigger object were placed inside the Dark Cell in the Cell Block area. This was decided ad hoc, as this section of the building was empty for the duration of this vigil period. Nothing picked up from the camera

Team Four 2.40am to 3.20am:

Nothing to report on this area.

Team Three 3.40am to 4.20am:

We split time covering the cells corridor, Dark Cell and the hanging cell.

4.10am - Dean reports seeing a light move in the hanging cell. He says that he feels like something else is there. Dawn and Ellen join him in there. Dawn and Dean both report seeing another light.

Transportation area and courtyard

Team Four 11.30pm to 12.10am:

Helen and Linzi reported a bad feeling in the corridor where the mirrors were.

Linzi thought she saw a shadow movement under doorway.

All members reported hearing at least twice what sounded like "cell doors" opening. The main door outside was checked and it did squeak but it was not the same sound as heard. (It was reported that another team had moved cell doors in the cell area directly above this area)

Team Three: 12.30am to 1.10am:

12.35am - We are all standing at the top of the stairs leading to the courtyard from the far cells corridor. We see a series of lights play over the top of the gallows (trapdoor area) and underneath it. It looks like someone shining a torch through the window from the pitts area (except there is no window there).

I dash down to the gallows but no one is in the corridor leading to the caves and the pitts are empty. (the group who are supposed to be in the pitts only appear at 12.40am after getting lost).

Team Two 1.40am-2.20am:

Video cameras set up in the inside corridor facing down towards the entrance, alarmed crucifix trigger object set up on the floor in direct view of the camera.

Diane did not participate in this particular investigation choosing to join the team in the courts area.

The team split up, alternately covering the Transportation area and the exercise yard. Steve notes, personally felt "very uneasy" entering this part of the building where has Claire felt perfectly fine. Nothing of Paranormal interest to report apart from Tom witnessing something akin to a cat or dog, moving very fast past the door at the entrance to the Transportation area.(Incidentally, the same area where Steve witnessed the "moving solidness" earlier in the evening.)The camera fortunately covered the area Tom reports to have seen the "shape." On video camera examination nothing is visible at that particular area at this time.

Team One 2.40am to 3.20am:

Group situated in Transportation Area – opposite the doors from the courtyard – for the bulk of the session. Nothing at all to report.

Pitts and Dark Cells

Team Four: 12.30 to 1.10am:

Helen reported feeling the presence of an elderly gaunt man who she felt had been there for many miserable years. She described him as not welcoming but not aggressive. She reported seeing the man’s face appear in the brickwork. Helen also reported feeling the presence of a Cavalier but could give no reason why. All members reported several temperature drops.


Conna reported seeing a small red dot near the floor but could not decide whether this was imagination or a proper sighting.

Team Three 1.40am to 2.20am:

Dean feels sick while sitting in the dark cell and has to move out.

Team Two 2.40am-3.20am:

Video camera set up in Caves during this time. Nothing to report of any interest in the Pitts area apart from Tom witnessing again, a cat or dog like shape move quickly within the deep pit. Tom does accept it may have been a trick of the light or perhaps a rat? Due to not realising the vigil had come to an end, the team moved back briefly into the Caves. Nothing happened of interest.

On video camera examination, throughout the time of recording, two distinct noises are heard in close proximity to the camera placed in the chapel ,facing the cave mouth/entrance. Both sounds of stones, one in particular sounded very forceful.

Team One 3.40am to 3.20am:

Group move around different sections of the Pits area for duration of vigil. (Dark Cells, cobblers room, etc). Nothing to report.

Court Rooms

Team One 10.30pm to 11.10pm:

Most group members stayed situated around the centre of the room - except for Len, who was seated in rear stalls of room throughout vigil. Rob did briefly sit in main Judges seat for a while. Group remained talking casually (quietly) for duration of vigil. Helen ran a (hand-held) video recording for the bulk of the session.

Only comments made about this area was that it seemed most peaceful and (from Rob) held no sense of being haunted.

Team Four 1.40am to 2.20am:

Nick was sitting to the right of the Court and reported he thought he saw the small door leading into the seats move slightly. Nick also reported feeling his energy suddenly drain.
Nothing reported by any other member.

Team three 2.40am to 3.20am:

We split our time between the crown and civil court. Nothing at all to report. No noises, just silence.

Team Two 3.40am-4.20am:

No Video camera set up or trigger objects set up. All members of the team alternated between both courts and had nothing of any interest to report.

The Caves

Team Two 10.40pm to 11.10pm:

All team members reported hearing "wailing" noises.

All team members, apart from Julie, were sitting in Chapel at this point.
Julie had wandered up small staircase. Julie reported hearing what sounded like "chains" clanking and that she had heard several "wailing" sounds. She said she had carried on outside into the yard to try to identify if the noise was coming from outside. Only general noise heard. On returning inside Julie heard a further "wailing" sound.

Linzi reported hearing "sighs" and something touching her hair. Julie reported the "sighs" could have been made by her as she did gasp when on her own having heard the "wailing".

Helen reported feeling the zip on her fleece move.

All team members, apart from Julie, reported hearing a "squeaky/whistle" type sound.
Most members reported a distinct smell periodically.

Shortly before the end of the vigil, all members being in the Chapel, Nick, Linzi and Julie all saw at the same time a "small figure" in the "off bounds" tunnel. The figure appeared to be "peeping" around the bend in the tunnel as though watching the team.

Nick reported seeing what looked like a "red fly" that moved towards the entrance.

All members reported constant changes in temperature.

All members reported movement of light in the "off bounds" tunnel.

Team Three 11.30pm to 12.10am:

11.36pm - Kevin and Dean hear a thud from outside the chapel door. No one was in the pitts at this time.

11.42pm - We all hear a noise in the connecting corridor from the chapel to the far cave.

11.48pm - Andy and Amanda report seeing a green light appear and move about 4 inches before disappearing. This was over on the far left hand wall if you were standing by the doorway. No one else was over there an all torches was off.

11.56pm - Over the next 15 minutes we must have heard at least 8 bricks landing on the floor.

12.01am - Both Kevin and Amanda report feeling a headache both on the left temple while sitting in front of the cross in the chapel area.

12.10am - The vigil finishes with the sound of another brick landing by Dean

Team Two 12.30am-1.10am:

No Video camera set up or trigger objects set up. During the time spent in all areas of the caves, everybody present remarked how "unsettling" this area felt in contrast to the previous sites covered.

12.45am - Donna reports the sound of rubble/stone being thrown.

1.07am - Light affect observed by various members of the team on the outside stairs but most likely the source coming from the team located in the Pitts area. This occurred a few times during the vigil. This does need to be verified with the team in question however.

1.10am - Donna heard the sound of a stone "thrown" in the area of the lectern in the chapel.
Steve reports momentarily witnessing a white floating rod shape, approx 5ft off the floor and 1ft long in size near the entrance to the caves "somewhat like an afterimage of something."

Team One 1.40am to 2.20am:

Throughout the vigil, team members were situated in the Chapel Helen ran a (hand-held) video recording for the bulk of the session. Casual conversation held for the duration of the session.

Some sounds – occasional voices, movement, etc – carried through from Team Three situated in the nearby Pits Area.

At one point during the vigil, Adam reported a sound akin to stones knocking together, just behind him.

We – on at least two or three occasions – heard the sound of stones dropping onto the wooden flooring of the room leading off form the chapel. Adam retrieved small pebbles and pieces of rock from the floor and experimented by dropping them onto the ground. This appeared to adequately reproduce the noises that we had been hearing.

While other teams had reported this effect during the night – and, apparently, featured in stories from other groups that had visited the site – it clearly appeared that there was nothing paranormal about the origins of these sounds…. such noises appear to be little more than debris ‘naturally’ falling from the ceilings of the chambers concerned onto the wooden floor.

It has to be said that the W.M.G.C. usually avoid the larger, more commercial / public investigations as much as possible, mainly due to practical reasons. However, our stay at the Galleries of Justice was an exceptionally enjoyable investigation, which went without even the slightest hitch. From what could be ascertained after the event, everyone who attended appeared to have enjoyed themselves immensely..... It really is a fantastic site which is open to the interested public on a regular basis. Well worth a visit if you're in that neck of the woods!! http://www.galleriesofjustice.org.uk/

Regards to all,

The W.M. Ghost Club

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Shrewsbury Library Investigation Press Release.

Shrewsbury Chronicle - July 2nd 2009

"Things that go bump in the night"

Shrewsbury has a reputation as one of the most haunted towns in the country, so a team of investigators looking into ghostly incidents paid a visit to Shrewsbury Library for a night-time vigil at the weekend. PAM GRIFFIN and PETER KITCHEN spoke to John Conway of West Midlands Ghost Club to see what they found.

An old gentleman gets up from his chair and makes his way to the window of Shrewsbury Library where he looks out at the people below. Shaking his head in disgust at what he sees, he turns away from the window and retires back to his chair.

The old gentleman – who is reportedly the spirit of one of Charles Darwin’s teachers – is one of a number of figures ‘seen’ at the historic old venue.

And while no official ‘sightings’ were made when members of West Midlands Ghost Club and librarians spent around five hours observing the building in the dark, there certainly were a few things that went bump – or twang – in the night.

“We were in the top classroom above the library when a few of our members heard a twang,” said John Conway of the West Midlands Ghost Club. “Nobody was by anything that could have made the noise.

“It sounded like a swing door and it was only when someone said it was like a noise he used to make at school by twanging his ruler on the edge of the desk when we realised we were in a former school classroom ourselves.” The group was also in the town before Christmas to observe the Prince Rupert Hotel on Butcher Row. But any comparisons between the group and popular TV shows such as Most Haunted are quickly dismissed by John.

“We certainly aren’t a ‘most haunted’ group and and we don’t believe in psychic powers or talking to the dead,” he said. “We’re an objective research group and we observe the building itself and it’s atmosphere to see if we can pick up anything other people have experienced.

“On Friday we were set up by 9pm and stayed around till around 2am. We heard a few different parts of the building during the night and it was definitely a worthwhile exercise.” Shrewsbury town crier and local historian Martin Wood is an expert in the ghosts of the town, but said few spooky stories have as much of a mystery about them as the ones at the library.

Among the reports he had from the building was one of several ‘funny going-ons’ on the top floor of the library.

He said: “An archeological friend of mine, Nigel, was working there late one night when they were excavating Riggs Hall and as he was looking down a hole he kept hearing someone ‘psst’-ing in his ear a few times.

“He had to sleep there for a few nights and one evening he heard someone trying to open the padlock that locked his door and when he climbed out of the window to catch the ‘burglar’ he found the outer doors still locked and bolted, but the padlock had been opened.

“In his own words, he had ‘had enough’ and shot off back to Birmingham and had the best night’s sleep in ages.”

And other parts of the building, which was the home of Shrewsbury School from 1552 to 1882, have been reported to house ghosts as well.

Mr Wood said: “As you stand in front of the building the office on the left was the headmaster’s house and the ghost of a man has been seen sitting in a chair – could it be Darwin’s headmaster bemoaning the fact that Darwin thought we were related to apes?”

Mr Conway said: “We would love to come back to Shrewsbury again. We have been coming here over the past 20 years, it’s a lovely place with a wonderful ghostlore."

A fuller run-down on our investigation at Shrewsbury Library will appear on our next update of the main web page, later this year.

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.



Friday, 17 July 2009

Back To School...

In light of our last post involving a potentially haunted secondary school, readers of this blog might be interested to hear of another, (albeit 'ex' in this instance) school site which has been the focus of W.M.G.C. interest on two, separate occasions.... The site - 'since' our first visit, we hasten to add - has also been the focus of interest from other local ghost groups..........

Our first visit to what is now the Council Training Centre in Oldbury, West Midlands, was conducted on January the 18th 2008. As mentioned above, the site was formerly a seat of local, Black Country education, being built in 1936 as the Albright Secondary School.

Over the years the property has allegedly been the site of a number of ghostly encounters, many of which have been reported by reliable and level-headed members of site staff. A piano has been heard playing in one particular room, but, upon investigation, it was discovered that the room concerned was completely empty and the piano itself fully covered over with an undisturbed dust-sheet.

The figure of a little girl is said to have been seen traversing a corridor outside the canteen area and - within the canteen itself - staff members report, on more than one occasion, having witnessed the figure of a woman dressed in grey, walking across the eating area.

Elsewhere in the property, the feeling of being followed has frequently spooked cleaning staff and the figures of two 'caretaker-style' men - dressed in brown cowgowns - have been reported....

W.M.G.C. interest in the Training Centre generated a degree of media interest and articles concerning our visit appeared in a number of local newspapers and on the Sandwell MBC website itself. Our investigation of the site was conducted (in part) in the presence of an Express and Star reporter. (Resulting in the article seen at the very top of this report).

Brief details of our initial visit runs as follows:

Date Of Visit: Fri. Jan. 18th / Sat. Jan. 19th 2008
Duration Of Visit: Approx. 3.75 hours.
Time of Arrival / Entry: Approx. 10.00 p.m.

Present:

Investigative Team – John Conway, Julie Badger, Julia Whiston, Steve Chew, Kevin Wallace and Nick Duffy. Also present on the premises was Security Guard, Mr Singh and – briefly – an Express and Star reporter.

Aims / Inv. Process:

General, brief investigation of property, mainly focussing on sections of building noted as being of particular relevance / importance regarding the paranormal history of the site.

Investigation procedure incorporating:

a) 1st person audio / visual observation.
b) Static (area based) audio / visual recording, incorporating standard / night shot camera’s.
c) General temperature / humidity recording. (Incorporating ‘ambient’ and ‘Remote’ devices).

Investigation:

Following brief tour of property in presence of Mr Singh, group members set up equipment in Room 71 – Lecture Theatre.
*Mannequin set up on desk in centre of floor area with audio alarm attached to base.
*On small table (to right of door as you enter room): Mannequin with audio alarm attached; six coins ringed on piece of paper and walkie-talkie set to ‘voice activated’ mode.
*Digital audio recorder situated on table (in row) furthest from door.
*Video Camera one situated on upper level of raised seating – immediate left corner of room as you enter – facing across to opposite corner of theatre.
*Video camera two situated in far right corner of room (as you enter the area) facing across to the door.

After leaving Lecture Theatre, group briefly visits Gym area and Steve leaves a chiming ball (childrens toy) on table top (in row nearest partition) in Gym Room B.

Immediately prior to beginning of Vigil One, reporter leaves premises (being let out by Mr Singh).

Vigil One – 10.50 pm to 11.20 pm

Group One – John, Julie and Julia – situated in Gym area.

Reported:

10.56 pm: both John and Julie get a feeling of being watched. Julie situated in Gym area A and John in area B.

11.12 pm: Julia feels temperature drop in Gym area A. All present feel temp colder in one half of the Gym.

Group Two – Steve, Kev and Nick – situated in turn of two corridors, directly in front of access door.

Nothing to report.

11.40 pm (approx) – equipment collected from Lecture Theatre area and transferred to Gym area.

Gym Area A:

*Video Camera situated on right hand wall of room (as you enter), facing across to door in partition wall.
*Digital audio device situated on table next to aforementioned video camera.

Gym Area B:

*Childrens chiming ball on table (as mentioned previously).
*Mannequin situated on table top – near chiming ball – with audio alarm attached.
*Video camera situated in far / centre section of room (as you enter), facing across to partition door.

Vigil Two – 11.55 pm to 12.55 pm

Group One – as before – situated in Restaurant area.

Nothing to report.

Group Two – as before – situated in Lecture Theatre area. (Note* on way to vigil, Group Two pass Mr Singh patrolling the corridors).

Reported:

23.58 pm: ‘Clonk’ sound heard. Probably originating from radiator situated near door to room. At this same time, Nick and Steve conversing and Kevin hears a noise akin to someone moving around on the floor (level) of the room. All 3 group members are situated on the topmost level of the raised seating at this point.

Midnight: ‘Flash’ - like camera flash – seen in room. Originated from outside the room and, therefore, was most likely Group One taking photographs. (Which they had done during this vigil).

12.03 am: Same as above.

12.04 am: Steve notices alteration of light patterns on ceiling of room. Reason that this is probably due to external light source; something moving through / past the source, etc.

12.16 am: Two pronounced ‘clonk’ noises heard.

At end of vigil, all members meet in Restaurant area for brief – approx 5 to 10 minute - break.

Vigil Three – 12.45 am to 1.15 am

Group One – as before – situated in Lecture Theatre.

Nothing to report.

Group Two – as before – situated in Gym area B.

Reported:

12.50 am: Steve sitting at table nearest partition wall. Rests both elbows on table top and feels something akin to a ‘blow’ on the bottom of the table - force travelling upwards. Nick situated directly in front of Steve hears the sound, which is described as having something of a metallic element to it. Reason that the table may well have been ‘settling’ in some way and could have made this effect itself / naturally.

1.13 am: exceptionally loud ‘crack’ noise from wall-clock area of room (immediately to left of door as you enter). Occurred twice. (Noise appeared to come from clock itself?)

After Vigil Three ends – approx. 1.30 am to 1.45 am - group collects equipment and leaves the building.

Leaving almost a year between visits, a follow up investigation was eventually organised by group member, John Conway, for Friday, January the 6th 2009.

Present:

Investigative Team – John Conway, Julie Badger, Steve Chew, Len Jackson, Deborah Green and Marianne Barker . Also present on the premises was Security Guard, “Jaz” Singh.

Aims / Inv. Process:

General, brief investigation of property, mainly focussing on sections of building noted as being of particular relevance / importance regarding the paranormal history of the site.

Investigation procedure incorporating:

a) 1st person audio / visual observation.
b) Static (area based) audio / visual recording, incorporating standard / night shot camera’s.
c) General temperature / humidity recording. (Incorporating ‘ambient’ and ‘Remote’ devices).

Investigation:

Following brief tour of property in presence of “Jaz, group members set up equipment in upstairs offices:

*Mannequin set up on the floor in the centre of the room, (placed in the central walking area) with audio alarm attached to base.
*Len’s Video camera set up on the left adjoining stairwell, facing across the room; towards the right hand side stairwell. (Both the left and right stairwell doors were left open to cover the area as a whole.)

Room 1

*Audio alarmed Crucifix and Pentagram (with 3 coins placed on it) set up on the floor in the centre of the room.
*Steve’s Video Camera on the table facing across the room in direct line with the door way leading to the corridor.

Restaurant

*John’s Video Camera situated on table facing across the room to the (corridor side) focusing on area where previous sighting occurred.

All Video Camera’s commence recording at 10.15pm


Vigil One – 10.20 pm to 10.50 pm

All present (including Jaz) situated in Lecture Theatre. *Children’s chiming ball placed on carpeted floor in the approximate centre of the room.

10.50 - Vigil ends. Nothing to report.

Vigil Two – 11.25 pm to 12.00 pm

John’s Video Camera left recording in the Restaurant, whilst “Baiting CD” left running simultaneously in the same room.

Group 1 – John, Julie, Len and Jaz situated in Room 1

Group 2 – Steve, Deborah and Marianne situated in the upstairs offices.

11.25pm Approx - Noteworthy mention – Steve walking slightly ahead of Deborah and Marianne, enters the upstairs office, on reaching the right hand side of the room, the overhead lights switch on simultaneously. At the time it was presumed the lights are activated by a motion sensor. On investigation and confirmation from Jaz, the lights can only be switched on by the wall. Steve feels this should be reconfirmed with Jaz again at some point.

11. 37pm - Steve, Deborah and Marianne situated in the right hand side of the room, next to the outside windows hear a very loud bang/creak coming from what sounded like the left side of the room near the left stairwell. (This may have been due to the building cooling down but it was very pronounced and distinctive non the less.)

12.00 am - Steve, Deborah and Marianne see two flashes of yellowish light coming from outside through the window, car headlights were ruled out as no vehicles had passed by at that time, also the motion and spontaneity was more akin to a torch beam. Possibly emanating from the factory across the road?

12.00 am – Group had decided to call out to the room, to provoke a “reaction.”

12.09 am – Steve witnesses a very quick flash of light at the top of the right stairwell. (Interestingly, this happened immediately after a suggestion was made requesting this. No one else present was in a satisfactory position to witness this as too close to the right hand wall of room, obscuring view.

Vigil Ends – 12.10am. Time run over by 10 minutes.

Group 1 – John, Julie, Len and Jaz situated in Room 1

12.00am - Vigil ends. Nothing to report.

After Vigil Two ends – approx. 12.10 am - group collects equipment and leaves the building.

Regards,

The W.M.G.C.

School Investigation...

As mentioned on the W.M.G.C. web site - June 2009 update - group members have recently carried out a (long overdue) follow up investigation at a secondary school in the Midlands area.......

While the bulk of the visit passed uneventfully, there was a very brief 'flurry of potential activity' at the very end of the event. At a point when group members were clearing away their kit, etc, 4 people reported having heard strange sounds in the sites main, ground floor corridor. Two of the members reported a muffled, high-pitched 'Woooo' type sound, while the others heard 'shush-type' noises. One of the latter says that they caught the sound twice, in quick succession, while the other says their experience involved a solitary sound.......

Our previous visit to the propery concerned was conducted on Friday the 28th of March 2008, with four members of the group in attendance. As always, our aims and investigative process for the visit concerned a general, brief investigation of the site, mainly focussing on sections of the building noted as being of particular relevance / importance regarding the paranormal history of the site.

Our visit began with a tour of the property concerned with caretaker, Brian, who filled us in on the alleged paranormal history of the site.

Of particular interest were two buildings - separate from the main site, a cross a courtyard / playground - whose windows had been reported to open of their own accord during the night. Brian had apparently witnessed one of the windows opening by itself on security footage in the past. The sites were not open to group members during our stay (due to the building security system), but both places were viewable from the main building.

A staff member had also reported a sensation of being ‘touched’ in one of the class rooms – identified as room B23.

A set of double doors – situated between the main, ground floor corridor and reception area – were also specifically mentioned. These doors had allegedly swung open of their own volition one night, the act being caught on security footage. Of interest in this instance is the fact that the doors were said to have been bolted at the time and – according to Brian – a shadow, akin to the upper part of a female figure, could be seen on the floor at the bottom of the left hand door. (If facing towards the reception area).

It was mentioned that this incident had been caught on the security cam mounted on the ceiling of the main corridor. However, upon checking, it was found that the area outlined in the shadow aspect of the story could not be physically picked up by the overhead cam because a section of corridor wall obscured the view? Upon checking, Steve was told that the cams had been positioned differently at that point in time. Unfortunately, the footage concerned has subsequently been mis-placed.

Brian and friends had previously mounted their own ghost watch inside the property, but only reported having heard ‘noises’ in the building. Teachers at the site have susbsequently carried out the same process since our fitst visit to the school with, seemingly, exactly the same results reported.

After Brian had left the building for the night, group members instantly closed the corridor double doors – not locking them, but pulling them closed, together – and, upon returning a few minutes later, found that they were now open again, the gap being a distance of a foot or so. The doors were closed once more.

A view from approx. half way along the corridor revealed that a reflection in one of the glass panels of the doors concerned was seen to be apparently moving forwards and backwards slightly. Evidently, this indicated that the door itself was moving – something which was put down to air currents within the building.

During our more recent visit of June 12th (09), group members were luck enough to witness the aforementioned doors opening - very slightly - on their own. It has to be stressed that, on the instances concerned, such movement was evidently, naturally occuring..... a combination of drafts inside the building and the way in which the doors themselves are hung. As mentioned in our write up, however, we have to stress that '....in comparison to the past, staff experiences - the movement of the doors on the night of the investigation was naturally occuring a maximum of 5 to 6 inches..... As a result, we cannot objectively draw accurate comparisons with the 'complete' opening of the doors, as reported at other times....'

Upon standing near the double doors at one point on the night of our first visit, Steve Chew reported having heard what sounded like a sequence of footsteps, seemingly quite close by.
Vigil One – 10.10pm to 10.40pm

*Corridor doors bolted.
*Chiming childrens ball situated in centre of corridor floor, just in front of main stairs / double doors.
*Motion detectors placed just in front of double doors.
*Video camera situated facing the double doors from the reception side.

Steve and Julia situated in room B23. Nick and John in playroom / old hall.

During this period: John identifies a noise heard outside the windows of the playroom as a plastic cup blowing around the playground / car park. A blind on the windows of the playroom are seen to be blowing some distance into the room and John reports that at least 2 of the windows have been left open. (John shuts windows).

Double doors between the old hall area and the reception area are heard bumping – frequently quite loudly - throughout the duration of the session.

At 10.25pm, Julia hears a clang sound from the corridor outside room B23. She had been sitting near the door at the time, with Steve – who heard nothing - on opposite side of the room.

Approx. 3 minutes from the end of the session, Steve reports having suddenly gone cold. A tingling, instantaneous cold.

Post vigil, while standing near the double doors talking, we hear a ‘click’ sound from somewhere and Julia says she may have just seen something pass the outside of a door at the very end of the corridor. (Says that she doesn’t know if it was just a reflection or not). Investigation reveals nothing of interest.

Vigil Two – 11.20pm to 11.50pm

Situation set up as previous session.

John and Nick in room B23 and Steve and Julia in playroom / old hall.

During this time: Door to B23 heard to bump at 11.21pm

Steve and Julia report having heard little – if any – noise coming from the double doors between old hall area and reception.

12.10 am:

Nick visits double doors area of corridor (alone) in order to experiment with audio recordings. Reports numerous ‘noises’ – bumps, doors creaking, etc – coming from the building around him.

Joined by rest of group, an experimental ‘bating’ session takes place for a few minutes – Steve and Julia asking questions to the surrounding area - with no obvious response.

12.30am:

Group decide to spend some time situated in 1st floor corridor of building.

12.55am:

Entire group return to ground floor and – after a visit to the boiler room - position themselves in gym area.

Approx. 1.45am group pack up equipment and leave the property.

Comments:

A feature which was overwhelmingly obvious about (at least) the main block of the building was the fact that it was exceptionally ‘noisy’ throughout the duration of our stay. Rather than any paranormal cause for such noises, it was quite evident that (at least the bulk of) these sounds were created by air currents flowing through the property and manipulating various doors, etc. It was noticed that some doors were constantly being affected by the drafts – i.e. the double doors between old hall and reception, which clearly stopped moving after the hall windows were closed. (the difference between noise in this area reported during vigil one and two, for example). The door situated at the top of the main staircase – which had been pointed out to us as of interest by Brian – was frequently heard creaking, etc.

While the above could not explain away such incidents as opening windows in new and unattached sections of the property, it could certainly account for most (if not all) of the selection of audible occurrences. It has to be said that – due to the double corridor doors being seen to move in what appears to have been an air current – the incident caught on security footage could well have been easily explained if not for the particular detail concerning the doors being bolted?

Findings:

While some of the effects caught on footage taken during the night are open to conjecture, one recording session near the double corridor doors revealed a host of noises - most muted and distant. (Two ‘big sounds’ detected, however).

13.28 minutes into the recording Steve and Nick can be heard talking very loudly, but there is also a noise akin to a child saying something, which relates as quieter than the groups voices, but still audible.

At 39.41 minutes – while the group are all situated in the gym area, the camera switches off. There was still plenty of charge on the camera, as the batteries - with a run time of around 112 min. - were fully charged. At this point on the recording, there seems to be a lot of muted noise occurring and a very loud click - reminiscent of someone clicking their fingers very close to the camera.

Regards,

The W.M. Ghost Club

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Birmingham Investigation.

From The Archives...

Returning to talk of 'haunted pubs', the following post concerns an investigation that group members carried out on March 24th, 2007, when the W.M. Ghost Club conducted an overnight stay at the White Hart public house in Tile Cross, Birmingham.

Group member Steve Chew first became interested in the property after becoming aware of media reports concerning an 'apparition' possibly being caught on security footage. During a preliminary visit to the site, Steve discovered that the property was said to hold a substantial haunted history – some of the details being outlined in the following press release by the brewery publicity company attached to the site in question:

'Ghostly goings on at The White Hart'

"Every pub has its regulars, but a Birmingham pub has three ghostly visitors that don't leave when the doors are locked – and finally one has been captured on CCTV.

The White Hart in Tile Cross has experienced spooky goings-on for years and pub staff have heard more than their fair share of ghost stories.

But they got more than they bargained for when they checked the pub's closed-circuit-television system and watched a shimmering white presence glide through a window, swoop around the hall-way and then glide through the opposite wall.

Parts of the Gressel Lane pub date back to 1649 when it was a coach house for Sheldon Hall frequented by highwaymen. For years, visitors to the pub have talked about two ladies who died at the coach house and told spooky tales, but when landlady Sam Skelton took on the pub seven months ago, she realised they weren't just ghost stories.

"The first time I was aware that something was wrong, I was alone in the pub. I was in the bottle store and I could hear two women talking to one another. I moved toward the voices to see what was happening and I heard them say 'Is she coming? Shush then.' Since then, I hear them quite often, giggling and muttering to each other. They are friendly so it doesn't scare me, they just irritate me because they waffle so much," says Sam.

"Some of our regulars claim to have seen the ghost of a woman glide through the bar and disappear, but before we came here, a guest who stayed in the spare room was actually tucked in by the old ladies, so you can't say they're not friendly!"

Sam says the third ghostly resident stays in the cellar and doesn't venture above-stairs. "I heard a male voice in the cellar and it did frighten me because I hadn't realised there was a third ghost, but then I found out the lady who used to run the White Hart had a rottweiler. The dog was fearless but whenever it used to get to the top of the stairs that lead down to the cellar, it would start whimpering and get as far away as it could," she says.

"Earlier this week, after we closed the pub for the night, we switched off all the fans, finished all our jobs and turned off all the taps and lights. First thing on Monday morning, I came downstairs and I could hear that a tap was running. I went down to the cellar and there was two inches of water on the floor and the tap was on full.

"The staff think the ghosts are trying to warn us to let them be in peace, but we don't wish them any harm! I did wonder about inviting a psychic for a night because the place is full of paranormal activity, but the last thing I want to do is upset them. I like the fact that they like the pub enough to hang around!"

A brief report of our investigation of the White Hart – including an appraisal of the security footage - can be viewed below:

Investigation Report: The White Hart - Tile Cross - Birmingham.

Date: Saturday 24th to Sunday 25th March 2007

Duration Of Visit: Approx. 4 hrs

Investigators Present: 4 group members and, also, landlady Sam, partner Paul and two children. (Latter three in bed during duration of visit).

Investigation:

Trigger Objects:

*Crucifix on paper - alarmed - on stool in middle of Ladies Toilet floor.

Session One: 1.50am to 2.30am.

Camera set up in Rear Bar area - far left corner, facing diagonally across to bar.

Camera situated on pile of boxes in Bottle Store - facing door into room from Bar. (Request put to room at beginning of session for anyone to speak if they wishes, etc).

Camera situated in far left corner of bar - facing towards alcove (where old lady figures allegedly seen).

Camera situated in far right of Bar - facing towards 'Dog Pillar'.

Entire group seated in Alcove area throughout session.

During this time: Group hear a number of naturally occurring noises from room (mechanical, etc). Len reports having possibly seen shadowy movement from left of bar area. Steve subsequently reports seeing movement - in peripheral vision - from behind Bar itself.

Session Two: 2.40am to 3.10am

Camera situated far right of Bar area - facing across to 'Dog Pillar'. (Childrens chiming ball situated on table top next to camera).

Cassette recorder left on table on fireplace side of 'Dog Pillar'.

Camera on table top in Alcove - facing towards Bar.

Entire group situated in Rear Bar area throughout session.

During this period: Frazer and Steve detect a heavy thump noise - like someone hitting a wall with their fist - seemingly coming from a point near the Disabled Toilet area.

Session Three: 3.10am to 3.45am.

Entire group seated in Alcove area - chatting casually throughout session.

Nothing to report during this period.

Session Four: 3.50am to 4.30am

Frazer, Steve and Sam - with camera running - go into Bottle Store and attempt to 'Bait' the room. (Asking questions out loud, etc).

Len situated in Rear Bar area.

Nick situated in Main Bar area.

During this period: Frazer and Steve both report hearing a male vocal sound - akin to someone clearing their throat - coming from the room containing the Cellar door. Unfortunately, video tape had just run out at this point in the session!

Recording Results:

Little of interest was found on the recordings taken during the night, save for - five minutes into Session Two - some anomalous sounds were picked up by the equipment left recording in the Main Bar.

The equipment picked up the clear sound of movement in the general area - loudest on the camera situated far right of the Bar area. The noises concerned sound something moving around very close to the camera - sounds which go on for around a minute. Then there is the noise of the swing and closure of a nearby door. Again after a minute, the clear sound of the door swinging open and something moving around very close to the camera; also a heavy creaking, as if of a heavy set person, standing on old floorboards or possibly settling into a wooden chair.

Neither of the cameras present picked up any images to accompany these noises.

While human agency could not be ruled out to account for such noises, but, by the sound of the sequence of doors, it should surely mean that, had anyone entered the room and made the noise, they didn't actually leave again afterwards. Also, with the entire group only in the next room, why did no one present hear such sounds?

Conclusions

While nothing of an obvious paranormal nature was discovered by the group during our stay, it has to be mentioned that nothing could be found to account for the noises caught on the Session Two recording mentioned above.

While a lot has apparently been made by the alleged figure caught on CCTV footage, it has to be said that - by the licensee's own admittance - a number of people who viewed the tap had suggested that it was caused by nothing more than a moth or some such insect flying in close proximity to the camera. This theory was also echoed by W.M.G.C. member who saw the sequence too.

Whatever it's cause however, group members find it unfair that one local media authority (which will remain nameless) levelled claims of blatant 'fraud' at the White Hart. From the footage concerned, it was clear that an simple 'anomaly / accident' was sufficient cause for the effect seen, rather than any endeavours to actually manufacture the sequence concerned.

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Theatre Ghosts....


Recently reading of the alleged antics of a ghost called 'Martha' in the Ottawa Little Theatre (Canada) reminded W.M.G.C. members of a couple of instances where we were called on to 'tread the boards'.... Thankfully, this was purely in an 'investigative capacity', of course, and certainly not a request based on our potential acting prowess!!! Laugh!!

Back on September the 14th 2007, W.M.G.C. members were invited to conduct a brief investigation of the Garrick Theatre in Lichfield. (Above). While the current, theatre building - named after the actor David Garrick, who was raised in the locality - is of comparatively recent construction, it is rumoured to stand on the site of a previous theatre..... however, there seems little historical support for this notion(?)

Whatever the pedigree of the site itself, staff have reported a number of peculiar happenings over the past 25 years - including the inexplicable movement of objects in certain parts of the property, sightings of shadowy figures, the sound of womens footsteps in the stage area and feelings of being physically pushed and touched.

Some years ago, BBC Radio W.M. disk-jockey, Malcolm Boyden, claims to have been sitting alone one night, inside the theatre mixing room, when the door to the booth flew open and a pile of papers on his desk were thrown into the air.......!!

During our visit to the site, in the presence of a 'sensitive' friend, Simon, the latter mentioned picked up on a number of regions within the building that he deemed worthy of further scrutiny..... At one point, he picked up on a female figure dressed in typical 1950's style clothing, that was described as a somewhat 'overbearing' ppresence! It was suggested that this was the woman who had been heard walking around the stage area over the years......?

Delving a little further back in time - late July, 2005 - group members conducted an investigation of the 'Brew House Theatre' in Burton On Trent. This visit was kindly suggested and organised by Chris Campbell-Brown of the popular Burton Ghost Walk.

Formerly part of a nearby brewery – hence the name – local legend has it that the site is haunted by an unfortunate workman who was accidentally boiled to death in a large vat during the 1950’s. (Urrgghhh!!)

While the provenance of this particular tale is somewhat questionable, it cannot be denied that theatre staff members frequently report experiencing inexplicable happenings. Nicknamed ‘Fred’ by cleaners, the resident ghost is constantly blamed for a variety of occurrences, including the sound of doors opening and closing; the noise of furniture being dragged around empty rooms; lifts operating by themselves and auditorium lighting switching itself on of it’s own accord.

Theatre technical manager, Matt Bancroft, reports having had a number of strange experiences at the site. Alone in the building one night, Matt found himself openly telling ‘Fred’ off for interfering with some lighting equipment. As if in reply, he immediately heard a hefty blow hit the side of the auditorium seating, the sound reverberating around the building! On another occasion, Matt was standing in a passage that leads to the actors dressing rooms when he saw a ‘grey figure’ passing across an area at the rear of the stage. Thinking it was the theatre manager – who often wore grey – he went to investigate….. only to find the area concerned totally deserted and the manager seated in a distant part of the building.

While - as usual - our investigation of the site passed relatively quietly, the following (edited) report outlines the evenings events:

INVESTIGATION REPORT: The Brew House Theatre – Union Street – Burton On Trent – East Staffordshire.

Date Of Visit: 30th / 31st July 2005.

Duration Of Visit: Approx. 5 hours.

Time of Arrival: Approx. 10.00 p.m.

Present:

Investigative Team - 5 members of the W.M.G.C. and Brew House technical manager, Matt Bancroft.

[I]. Aims / Inv. Process:

General investigation of property, mainly focussing on sections of building noted as being of particular relevance / importance regarding the alleged paranormal history of the site. Investigation procedure incorporating:

1st person audio / visual observation.

(b) Static (area based) audio / visual recording, incorporating standard / night shot camera’s and digital audio recording equipment. Also wireless (radio) security camera.

(c) General temperature / humidity recording. (Incorporating ‘ambient’ devices).

(d) Trigger objects – listed below:

12” tall mannequin figure – positioned table in 1st floor, Corner Studio. Also, 4 coins – outlined on single sheet of white paper – placed on table top in same room.


[II]. Primary (1st Hand) Notes: Investigation Procedure, plus Findings, Experiences / Poss. Significant Events:

*11.00 p.m. – Vigils held in ‘Corner Studio’, ‘Drama Studio’ and ‘Auditorium’.

Corner Studio – Len Jackson and Darren Simpson. Len reports having heard 2 ‘clink’ and 2 ‘knock’ sounds from corridor area during session. Sounds not heard by Darren.

Drama Studio – Nick Duffy and Kevin Wallace. Session was severely hampered by a faulty – flashing - Emergency Exit sign (light) situated above one of the doorways to the room. Exceptionally disorientating.

b)Auditorium – Frazer Smith and Matt Bancroft. Frazer believes that he heard ‘movement sounds’(?) coming from upstairs corridor to right of Auditorium.

Vigils end: 11.30 p.m.

*12.00 a.m. – 3 video recording sessions begin. (All group members situated in Bar / Café area throughout sessions).

Camera 1 situated in Corner Studio filming in darkness utilising night-shot capacity.

Camera 2 situated on middle landing of Auditorium raised seating, facing back stage area. Filming carried out in full light.


Camera 3 situated in Drama Studio, with filming carried out in full light. (Cam. facing corner of room where figure allegedly seen).

Sessions end: 12.30 a.m.

*12.50 a.m. – Vigils held in ‘Corner Studio’ and ‘Auditorium’.

Auditorium – Kevin Wallace, Len Jackson and Darren Simpson. At 1.19 a.m. approximately 10 ‘bump / bang’ sounds in fairly quick succession from upstairs corridor to right of Auditorium. All present hear noises concerned, but cannot agree on whether they originated at stage end of corridor or foyer end(?) It is suggested that the sounds may have been a sequence of footsteps.

Corner Studio – Nick Duffy, Frazer Smith and Matt Bancroft. Frazer taken ill during this session necessitating a visit to the toilet for some time.

Vigils end: 1.20 a.m.

*1.40 a.m. – 3 video recording sessions begin. (Again, all group members situated in Bar / Café area throughout sessions).

Camera 1 situated in Dance Studio, filming in darkness in night-shot capacity.

Camera 2 situated in upstairs corridor (right of Auditorium) filming in full light, facing foyer end of building.

Camera 3 situated in Corner Studio, filming in full light.

Walkie-talkie set to ‘voice activated’ capacity left in Auditorium.

Sessions end: 2.10 a.m.

*NOTE – During the above period, Frazer Smith had to leave the building and return home because of illness.

*2.30 a.m. – 3 video recording sessions and a vigil begin.

Camera 1 situated in Corner Studio filming in full light.

Camera 2 recording in upstairs corridor (right of Auditorium) filming in full light, facing stage end of building.

Camera 3 recording in upstairs corridor (left of Auditorium) filming in night-shot capacity.

All investigators situated in Auditorium during the session. Kev Wallace and Matt Bancroft report having heard sounds of ‘movement’ from upstairs area at stage end of room. No one else heard sound. Fairly regular sounds detected from behind large, double doors in backstage area, some of which Matt identifies as noises made by metal roller-shutters (probably moving in wind) situated behind wooden doors. Also sound of water running or dripping emanating from same area. Nick Duffy checks outside – via main foyer – and finds that it is raining.

All sessions end: 3.00 a.m. At this point, group decides to call it a night and leave.

[III]. Secondary Notes: Audio / Visual Results.

None of the recordings made during our stay appear to hold any material that could be regarded as ‘paranormal’ in origin. A small number of anomalous (mainly solitary) clicks / taps / bangs were caught on some of the recordings concerned, but, after scrutiny, it is assumed that these noises were native to the building – i.e. sounds naturally occurring in the environment concerned, such as the floor settling, etc.

[IV]. General Findings / Conclusions.

While the building in question would (from anecdotal evidence) appear to be a fairly ‘active’ site, nothing of an obvious paranormal nature was detected during our stay.

Of the variety of sounds sporadically heard by group members during the visit, none could be specifically tied down to any one area, nor were they directly corroborated by audio / visual recordings. While remaining anomalous, the sounds could not be accepted – nor for that matter discounted – as being of blatantly preternatural nature.

Temperature readings monitored throughout the night showed that the stage area fluctuated by only .3 of a degree during the stay, while the Drama Studio (with one fixed, slightly open window) dropped by almost 2 degrees.....

Regards to all,

The W.M. Ghost Club

Wednesbury Ghost Appeal???

A while ago, the Black Country Bugle newspaper published a letter from Willenhall reader, Pauline Poole, concerning a ‘ghost’ associated with a site (formerly) called the Wednesbury Commercial School, in Wednesbury, West Midlands. A Ghost Club representative subsequently made contact with Mrs. Poole and she was kind enough to tell us what she knew of the matter.

The school building itself was situated on the corner of Wood Green Rd. and Brunswick Park Rd. and was originally a sizeable house called ‘Dolobran’ and ‘The Limes’. The former home of a number of Wednesbury dignitaries, the building was eventually demolished in the early 1990’s as part of a road widening scheme.

Mrs. Poole’s account of the Dolobran ghost dates from the late 1950’s and concerns a friend – Kester – who regularly attended cricket meetings at the school. Mrs. Poole tells us:

“One lunchtime, Kester mounted the sweeping staircase in Dolobran, going to an upper classroom where the cricket team met. He found, on the landing, a team member who was obviously very upset; tearful and visibly shaking - as white as a sheet! After a while, when he could speak, he told Kester that he was on his way down the stairs and had looked out of the window to see – not for the first time – the body of a man hanging from a tree, with his neck obviously broken and his head ‘at a funny angle’. He was dressed in unfamiliar garb, which was obviously from another time…..”

Despite the fact that a brand new housing estate now occupies the Dolobran site, the tree concerned in the above story still stands. (It apparently has a preservation order on it).

An associate of Mrs. Poole currently lives on the housing estate and she too has heard of the old Commercial School ghost…..

Should any visitors to this blog have any information on the above mentioned matter, both the Ghost Club and Mrs. Poole would very much like to hear from them.

Best wishes,

The W.M.G.C.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Down The Local.....

Over the years there have been many jokes aimed at the regularity of which W.M.G.C. members seemed to find themselves investigating allegedly haunted public houses... In truth, the group have - over recent years - developed a definite tendency to avoid such sites, mainly due to the practical side of investigation and the myriad restrictions that these sort of premises (albeit inadvertently) put on group requirements and so forth.

Looking back through the groups history to take a look at some of the lovely watering holes that we have visited the past, we discover that the latter part of 2003 seemed a definite 'high point' with regards to such forays! (or, perhaps, 'soirees', as some might try to intimate.... despite the fact that the W.M.G.C. are all, strict tee-totallers, of course!! honest.....!!!!)

Anyway - ahem - it transpires that, during the time period mentioned,the group had cause to carry out investigations at three separate pubs in the Walsall area...

On Saturday the 20th of Sept. club members staged an all night vigil at the Littleton Arms public house in Walsall.

News of ghostly happenings at the site were first sent to the group in mid-June of that year by Littleton friend and regular, Gillian Ponter. While manager Sue Gull and her staff had only been at the pub just over 18 months, they – and a number of their customers – were certainly no strangers to peculiar happenings at the Hatherton Road site.

Two of the pubs regulars claimed to have seen the figure of an old woman, in a grey cardigan and pinny, standing at one end of the bar on separate occasions. Both of these sightings were mentioned independently and neither witness was aware of the others experience until afterwards. A mixture of poltergeist-like effects have also been reported at the site, including: interference with pub equipment; footsteps; a disembodied voice; uneasy feelings and, under a previous owner, a staff member being mysteriously locked in one of the cellar rooms…..

Accompanying group members during their stay was manager Sue Gull and husband Michael, intrepid barmaid Kelly, Gill Ponter and partner and a small group of Littleton friends. Also present was ‘Walsall Advertiser’ reporter, George Makin. (*George’s subsequent article, concerning events at the Littleton and our investigation, appeared on Oct. 2nd 2003).

At the time of the investigation, the Littleton was invovled in something of an epic struggle with Walsall Council regarding the proposed demolition of the historic watering hole as part of the ring road widening scheme. Despite a valiant effort from pub management and regulars, the site was sadly raised to the ground within a few months of our visit.....

On October the 25th, an all night investigation was carried out at The Wheatsheaf public house, just outside Walsall town centre. Situated at the junction of Birmingham Road and Grove Terrace, the building is regarded as one of the oldest, extant, licensed premises in the Borough.

Then managers, Ian and Nancy Matthews, took over the pub in June 2002. The couple, who admited that they had always been sceptical when it came to paranormal matters, were soon to experience a host of inexplicable happenings….

Mrs. Matthews told us that they often heard the sound of footsteps and banging doors in the bar area, late at night. She described the steps as sounding like ‘those of a man, with what appears to be a child running around him as he proceeds across the room…’

Electrical / pub equipment has also been interfered with, including: lights going on and off; the pub alarm tripping on a weekly basis without reason (always at 3am); gas being turned off in the cellar; kegs mysteriously being unhooked, etc.

The strange movement – and sometimes destruction – of objects was a constant puzzle to the Matthews’. Drinks were moved (much to the chagrin of customers, no doubt!) and, some while ago, the glass from five or six framed pictures was found shattered on the bedroom carpet. A skirt, which Mrs. Matthews had folded away carefully in a bag on top of a wardrobe, was mysteriously found downstairs, draped over a till in the bar. Upon checking, the bag was found to be still folded on top of the wardrobe….!?

On one occasion, Mrs. Matthews was standing talking on the stairs leading to their living quarters when her friend commented on the noise being made by the pub’s two Great Danes running around upstairs. Mrs. Matthews informed her friend that the dogs were actually elsewhere in the building and jokingly suggested that the sounds might be paranormal in origin. Just after this was said, the pair found themselves fleeing the scene in terror when they clearly heard footsteps mounting the top of the staircase and beginning the descent towards them….!

Only days prior to our visit, one regular reported having briefly seen the figure of a man in what appeared to be R.A.F. uniform walking through the pub and Nancy Williams discovered a series of wet footprints in the bar area as she was cleaning……

Our overnight visit was conducted in the presence of Managers Nancy and Ian and a close friend of the Matthews’, Neil Melville. Some of the recordings made during the investigation contained inexplicable noises, including: a faint rustling sound; clicks; running water and the sound of muffled movement (of some kind).

And finally - the W.M.G.C.'s 'Halloween' investigation for 2003 was carried out at the Alcatraz Rock Club in Cemetery Road, Willenhall.

News of the Club haunting first reached the group in mid-September when one of the venue’s managers – Sandra Evans – wrote in to tell us about it.

From the very first time that her husband, Bob, stepped into the building, he had a feeling that someone was watching; not in a threatening manner, but definitely a ‘presence’ of some sort. Since that point, he believed that he frequently saw a shadowy, tall figure on numerous occasions, usually moving from the toilet area towards the staircase. Several friends and workmen who helped prepare the club for opening also claim to have seen the figure.

On one occasion, a female customer standing near the bar actually felt someone reach from behind her and touch her breast! She instantly jumped and turned round to find that no one was there..... Her husband, who was standing nearby, heard the commotion and looked up to see what he describes as a figure wearing a long cloak – like a priest’s cassock – standing nearby.

Within the space of a week, the lady concerned had also seen the mysterious figure, standing at the far end of the bar room where the club’s stage is situated. She also said that it appeared to be wearing a cloak….

Other reported activity includes: lights switching on and off by themselves; electrical problems; feelings of being physically ‘touched’ - one girl having had strands of hair lifted off her face while standing in the ladies toilet - and chairs moving of their own accord..... even with people sitting on them!

Apparently, the club building – which appears to have started out life as a lock factory around 120 years ago - used to be associated with a nearby Catholic Church in the 50’s. Local legend has it that a rogue priest with an eye for the ladies frequented the site and it is possibly his ghost that has been seen(?)

Our visit to the site was carried out in the presence of staff member, Kalvin Challener and Club regular, Terry Jones. Unfortunately - as with the bulk of our investigation - the group were in for a quiet night and didn't experience anything that might have been construed as potentially 'paranormal in nature'......

So, there you have it..... while pub based investigations might be very much a 'thing of the past' these days, there is plenty of reference material from the groups non-too-distant history to draw from.....

If you enjoy stories surrounding haunted hostelries - perhaps you've had a related experience yourself - just drop us a line and we'd be happy to 'dig' a little more!!

Best wishes to all,

The W.M.G.C.