MJ STEEL COLLINS gives us the fascinating yet tragic history of The Victory Baths, Renfrew in Scotland
The Victory Baths are located in the town of Renfrew, a few miles outside Glasgow. Built in 1921 by Paisley architect Thomas Graham Abercrombie, they were funded by a Danish immigrant, Henry Christian Lobnitz.
Since its construction, modernizations have taken place, but there still exists the 25 yard Edwardian pool adorned by 1920s changing cubicles and other features of period design, such as high archways and a viewing galley.
The building is regarded as the most haunted in the town of Renfrew,two ghosts are purported to walk the baths – that of a young woman dressed in white and a young boy. Staff have reported a number of incidents over the years and some refuse to go to certain parts of the building. Experiences range from feelings of unease to the sighting of apparitions, inexplicable footsteps and whistling have also been reported. The young boy is believed to have died at the pool in a freak accident about 80 years ago. He had been given a German helmet by his father, who had brought it back from World War One; the boy put it on, climbed to the diving board and jumped into the pool. The force of the boy hitting the water resulted in the strap of the helmet breaking his neck.
A few years ago, former duty manager, Hugh Watson, was waiting by the poolside for other staff members so he could lock up for the night. Something caught his eyes on the stairs up to the viewing galley, he got out his mobile phone, which had a camera and started filming. The footage, below, of what appears to be the ghost of a small boy, made the rounds of the Scottish media.
Underneath the pool runs a storage corridor, called ‘The Dunny’. Staff member Colin Dearing was left too scared to go alone after meeting the lady in white. She suddenly appeared before him, wearing ‘a white floaty dress’, stared at him for five seconds and then disappeared. When he came back up to the poolside, others noted that his face was a white as chalk. Afterwards, he refused to go down there again, unless he was accompanied and had a torch.
Quite a few public ghost investigations have been held in the Victory Baths, including some to raise funds for charities, such as Sense Scotland. Before one investigation, run by Paranormal Reality Events, a member of staff called Lorraine, had some ghostly experiences, which led to her being on the staff present to supervise the investigation. Lorraine had been hosing down the cubicles, when she saw hand print shapes appear on the side of one. A few days later, she was throwing water with a scoop and the outline of a figure appeared in the water.
During the investigation, a number of members of the group, including medium Bryan, made contact with a number of entities. The main one appeared to be that of a young boy, who appeared to Bryan over and over. He first picked up on the boy in the dance studio. Bryan made him out to be the age of 11 or 12 and got the impression he was connected with the water of the pool. There was also a lot of female emotion attached to the boy, like a mother’s grief.
Bryan also picked up on a man in a lab coat connected to the boy. He also got the impression of someone being resuscitated inside the building. There was a lot of negative emotion flying about, which Bryan believed was aimed at making him cry. He picked up on the words “I’m sorry” from the boy. The young boy communicated to Bryan that “It was my Dad” then “Doctor came and I was away.” No matter where the group went, the young boy appeared. Bryan also got the impression of a local newspaper carrying the story of a child’s death, which shocked the local community.
Other energies picked up by Bryan that night was a heavily mustachioed man smoking a pipe and holding a pocket watch, giving the name James MacKenzie. Bryan also picked up on some friendly and humorous female spirits. He was also shown the image of a lawyer’s office with important documents and lots of money, he felt were attached to charity, dating from the 1950s. He felt that the spirit of a woman walked by the pool. When the team were at the poolside, Bryan felt drawn to the diving board – there had been another diving board there at one point – and the spirits in that area were unhappy with the alteration of a story related to it. Whilst at the diving area, others in the group saw a figure looking out from the cubicles on the gym side of the pool. Bryan also felt a pain in his neck, which he thought was related to a hanging in the area.
Later, the story of the young boy with the German helmet was told. It was noted in the Paranormal Reality report that there was another similar story to this of a man who broke his neck pulling a stunt that involved leaping off the diving board with a spike attached to his head. There was a board covered with balloons in the pool and the idea was that the man would burst these with the spike. Unfortunately, he missed, hit his head off the board and snapped his neck.
Maybe it’s these two stories that the spirits aren’t happy about.