Swindon Fire Station
PSI Ghostwatch Report: Swindon Fire Station
Ken Taylor (PSI consultant)
Swindon-based paranormal research group PSI investigate a fire station supposedly haunted since the sixties.
It might seem unlikely that a modern building would acquire a strong reputation for being haunted, but when firemen who have been trained to remain level-headed in a crisis, talk of ghosts, people tend to their word for it.
So, on the night of August 18th 2007, a PSI team assembled to investigate the persistent reports of ghostly activity at the Drove Road Fire Station. And some of the evidence they collected is hard to explain away.
Besides earlier sightings of a ghostly woman and an old man, the firemen told of poltergeist incidents including doors that open and shut on their own, and lights switching on and off without apparent cause.
Mysterious sounds too were not uncommon, particularly footsteps, and on one occasion loud noises as if from a riotous party emanated from an upstairs room, yet upon immediate investigation the room was found to be in a perfectly peaceful state.
Most curious of all, perhaps, were the prints once left by bare feet on the freshly polished floor of a passage. Unfortunately those were seen thirty years ago, and it is not now known whether the naked feet were those of a man or woman.
The Drowned Lady
The station's ghostly female figure - the 'drowned lady' is supposed to have been a woman who perished in the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal, which used to flow where Fleming Way now runs. And the male has been dubbed the old Lock Keeper.
Before the station was built, the site was occupied by a minor wharf as well as a house called Fairholm, where the canal manager lived with his family and servants in the mid 19th century. No historical evidence of a tragedy has yet been unearthed.
As usual, the PSI team selected for this investigation was not told of these reports in advance, as that could have primed their expectations and influenced their observations.
More than half of the team's fifty recorded incidents were sounds: on four occasions these sounded like footsteps, while many more were thuds and bangs. Although the footsteps were immediately investigated, nobody was ever found to account for them.
Once, when the team was on the first floor, near the drop pole, voices were heard coming from the nearby gym. Two members went to investigate.
Finding nothing in the gym, they expanded their search into the changing rooms and ventured through a door connecting with the stair well. Here they saw another door, leading directly from the stair well back into the gym, was slowly closing...
The door was heavy and its movements controlled by a slow release mechanism, but there had only been a matter of seconds between the PSI members being able to see the gym and the stairs.
Although it is technically possible for somebody to have opened the door during that brief absence, that person would have had to literally run up the stairs and out of sight (all the other exits were under observation), and no such tell-tale sounds were heard.
Equipment malfunctions are often associated with haunted buildings, and a spate of minor incidents was noted, including a spot thermometer failing and needing to be reset several times, a CD player playing the wrong track during an Electro-Voice Phenomena (EVP) session, and dictaphone and video camera batteries that had been fully charged were found drained of all life.
One video recorder captured tapping sounds not heard by the team, as if its case were being tapped, but perhaps this too was another mechanical malfunction.
During a carefully controlled séance in the Engine area, around midnight, one of the team members clearly saw someone wearing a dark top walking in front of the main doors.
A couple of minutes later, a second member saw someone wearing jeans and black shoes, walking between the appliances. Again, no known living person was in that area.
Flare of red hair
The team took 169 photographs, of which 40 revealed unusual phenomena, and these were subjected to careful scrutiny during a second stage of analysis. Here unusual but perfectly natural phenomena (such as 'orbs' caused by the dusty environment) accounted for them all - bar one.
The most unusual photograph from the evening was a real puzzle for the photographic experts in PSI until they discovered the woman had been using an EMF meter.
The meter was hidden by her body but its red light had managed to shine through her hair during the photograph's half-a-second exposure.
When assessing evidence for paranormal activity, PSI prefers to err on the side of caution, and the same high standard of analysis was given to the eight hours of video recordings, as well as the catalogue of audio recordings and environmental data collected, such as ultrasound and electromagnetic fields.
Although there are significant difficulties in investigating a working fire station, there was sufficient activity of an as-yet unexplained type to maintain PSI's interest, and a return visit may discover more.
For further information visit PSI via the website link on the right.
last updated: 04/12/2008 at 14:21
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