Thursday, 31 January 2019

Radio Songs #52 - The Ghost (Part 6)

After last week's installment of my (true life!) haunted radio station reminiscences, Alyson asked, "Did you ever research the history of the building?" (Lynchie asked a different question which I'll answer in a future post.)

While I didn't personally dig into the history of the building (if this were a film, I'd be sat in a dusty library basement going through old newspapers on microfiche), others claimed to have done so... or have known someone who did. I can't attest to the veracity of these stories, but for the sake of full disclosure...

The building our radio station was situated in was an old Victorian textile mill, previously known as a "Wool Warehouse". Built in 1864, it had since attained the status of a Grade II listed building and it was a very grand building with a prestigious entrance opening onto a large Art Deco spiral staircase which climbed five floors. Our offices (sales & marketing) were on the "ground" floor (which was actually the first floor, as the mill was built into the side of a hill). The studios - where all the occurrences thus far described took place - were in the "lower ground floor". Basically, the basement.

There was one "cellar" room at the end of a corridor which nobody ever went into. One day the engineer unlocked the door and let me look inside. There was slime going up the walls, dripping pipes and evidence of rats. (A colleague of mine - a large Australian copywriter - once cornered and killed a rat with his bare hands in the first floor sales office.) I started to call that room "Jeffrey Dahmer's cellar" after I'd seen it... that was a pretty topical reference back then, as Dahmer's crimes had only recently made the news.

There were three ways of getting into the basement studios. Firstly, you could go in that grand main entrance, through the sales office and down some much less grand stairs. Secondly, you could use the staff entrance which was at ground level, halfway down those stairs. Thirdly, you go in through the courtyard.

The courtyard was in the centre of the building. You accessed it through large roller shutters which had to be opened from inside, then drove through a short tunnel into an open car park which had space for about 6 vehicles. Roadshow vans were kept in there and that's where the bosses parked during the day. But on an evening, and weekends, because there was nobody else in the building, those of us who worked unsociable hours were allowed to park in there. From here there was a side entrance into the building which could only be opened from inside. It was a bit of a complicated procedure getting in there. You had to park outside, go in through the staff entrance, walk through the building, exit through the courtyard door (hooking it open so you could get back inside), open the roller shutters, drive your car in, park, close the roller shutters behind you, then go back in via the courtyard door, remembering to take the hook off when you did. But it was worth it to know your car wasn't going to be broken into... which it likely would be if you parked it out on the street after dark. I have a story about that, too... but, another time.

Is anybody still with me? I seriously doubt it.

Inside this courtyard, you could still see the vestiges of the old wool warehouse. Huge second and third floor doors which had been boarded up but once would have been used to take in bales of wool - the hoists which had been used to lift those bales up there were still in place on the walls.

The story, then...

The story was that a young boy working in the mill in days gone by had either fallen from one of those high doors, or that a rope had snapped and a bale of wool had fallen on him. There was another story of a young woman who suffered a tragic loom accident. Other tales were even more vague.

It's highly likely that someone did in fact die in that old building. It had been around over 100 years before the radio station launched and we all know that textile mills weren't the safest of places... my own grandfather worked in one and told some hair-raising stories. Whether any of this in any way explained the strange things that happened again and again and again in that building during the 70s (before my time), 80s and early 90s (I got there in '88)… well, you can make up your own minds about that.


  1. Well - that explains it then. I imagine there were many other demises amongst the workers in that mill other than the ones you know about it.

    What a beautiful building it must have been in its heyday - Cant imagine many textiles being made in such beautiful buildings today. This post has reminded me of a story about an old building Mr WIAA used to have a workshop in - We made a pretty freaky (that word again) discovery one weekend when having a bit of an explore.

    Thanks for continuing the saga.

  2. Very interesting. I love the look and description of the building but, as Alyson says, can imagine there were many accidents/fatalities in those less safety-conscious times. I suspect it was quite a brutal environment to work in.

    Alyson - I'd be interested to hear about that building you mention too. These places have so much character and fire up the imagination. I live in a tiny Georgian era terraced cottage, it would have been a very modest, basic worker's home at the time, and I constantly live in hope of finding evidence of its past inhabitants. I feel like it's my job to look after and love this house on all of their behalves!

    1. I will try and include it at some point over at my place, but I seem to be copying Rol's blog ideas a bit too much at the moment (another this weekend I fear) so will leave it for a wee while. It was an eerie discovery though.

    2. Don't let that stop you, Alyson. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! ;-)


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