Former policeman NORMAN DUNBAR tells how he came face-to-face with a ghost in a haunted Newcastle upon Tyne social club while on duty back in the 1990s
Summer 1992, I was a policeman, diligently and dedicatedly carrying out my duties, on night shift, in the Walker area of Newcastle upon Tyne. I was patrolling the Walker Road/Pottery Bank area in what used to be called a Panda car but was now known as a ‘Unit’, I was accompanied by another PC whose identity I should mask to save him any embarrassment or other concerns, let’s just say he was not gullible, very experienced, hard nosed, had a bit of CID time in, shortly, a good copper and nobody’s fool.
It was a warm, muggy, still summers night, the air seemed to hang heavily, the sort of night all coppers have had, shirt sleeve order, windows rolled right down, straining to hear the distant noise of broken glass or squealing tyres, just anything to break the monotony of a quiet sleeping city, and hanging your head out of the motor just to get a breath of air.
It was about 3.20am when the stillness was shattered. The radio’s blared into life telling us “All Units, Auto Alarm, Birds Nest Social Club, keyholder’s being informed”. That was ours. The key holder, who I only knew as ‘Tommy’, got there in minutes and proceeded to open up and put the lights on and check the alarm, “Gents Bog” he carefully articulated in a cut-glass Geordie accent.
Now, the three of us were standing in the foyer facing into the premises, ahead to our left was the door to the ‘Gents Bog’,
That’s where it started, the ‘Gents Bog’, because just then, in front of, and in full view of the three of us, the door of the Gents Bog swung open, outwards, towards us and a man walked out. Time seemed to stand still, and afterwards all three of us agreed we’d been frozen to the spot, as if mesmerised.
The man that walked out of the ‘Bog’ was short, about 5’4’’ (my wife is 5’4” so I had a pretty good idea) he also had black hair, cut in the short back and sides of the 1940s where the sides are practically shaved, and you see so many young people wearing today, it’s back in fashion I suppose. His hair was also smoothed down with what I assume to be Brylcreme (My Dad used it) and severely combed back, I can’t help think ‘old style’ i.e. 1940s or 50s, besides that he was a wearing a black tuxedo, or evening suit, with black satin facings on the jacket collars, and a black satin stripe down his trouser leg (I only saw one side) he had on black shoes, very shiny, and a white shirt with a black ‘dickie’ bow tie, and I remember his jacket being buttoned. All in all, he had the look of an old fashioned ‘Concert Chairman’ or MC.
Except for his face. We coppers all attended many sudden deaths, and that’s what I thought I was looking at. Apart from someone suffering from Pernicious Anaemia, the only thing I could compare him to was a corpse.
His complexion was the waxy yellow colour of the dead. Seriously, his face was like a week old stiff. And his eyes open and staring, his gaze was fixed, he didn’t look around or blink, and his eyes were fully open and fixed to the front, trance like. As I’ve said he was walking, but soundlessly and quite slowly, no hurry at all, not trying to get away, or out of the club, or doing a runner from the Polis. He just walked slowly towards the steps of the concert room with his head and eyes fixed dead ahead unblinking and looking very much like a dead man.
As stated, we were rooted to the spot, and I think my mouth was open in astonishment many things were going through my head, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, I realised immediately that this was not normal but the sight of that face was chilling in the extreme and I could feel my hair standing on end, yes it really happens, I wasn’t frightened, it had happened too quickly to be scared, there wasn’t any claps of thunder or creepy organ music to build the tension – just him, appearing from the Gents in that state at twenty past bloody three in the morning. He must have taken about five steps, slowly, passing directly in front of us, moving to our right, he’d gotten about two paces to my right when I had the sudden thought ‘The alarm!’ it was still activated, and it must have brought me out of the state of complete shocked disbelief I was in.
I took a step towards him and lifted my right arm. I intended to grab his shoulder and stop him, but as soon as I moved, I kid you not; he disappeared into thin air, in front of the three of us. Gobsmacked doesn’t come into it. I said “What?”
For a couple of seconds we couldn’t understand what we’d just seen, we stood there mouths gaping, looking around the foyer. The keyholder broke the spell by saying that he was switching the alarm off and locking up, and bugger the club, he wasn’t coming back out again and they could find a bloody replacement. We then asked each other several times “Did ye see what I saw” and “Did he just disappear in front of us?” The keyholder asked helpfully “Ah wonder who he was, hey, that was a ghost wasn’t it?”
And we were forced to agree. What other explanation can there be? Three grown men, two of us coppers, and we had just witnessed what? A bloke,in a tux, looking like something from the forties and walking seemingly in a trance, right past us. Never looking at us, or acknowledging our presence, totally oblivious to us, head and eyes fixed and looking very dead apart from his eyes being open. And vanishing into thin air. What would have happened if I hadn’t moved? Where would he have gone? I still have many, many questions.
The premises were totally secure, so they got locked up and left in safety for the rest of the night, but just before we stepped outside the keyholder said he was never coming back ‘cos the effing place was haunted, I looked at my mate and he said “Nobody will believe this, they’ll think we were p*ssed or on drugs, and there’s nowt but the alarm gannin in me pocketbook” I was forced to agree with that, who will believe such a story, especially coppers, best not tell the rest of the shift, we’d be laughed at, best to say nowt, keep it to ourselves, and we did. Until now. The tale is told, and it is perfectly true, and there are three people who can swear to it, on a stack of bibles.
I intended to go back to the club in daylight and make enquiries with some of the older members, but I never did, on discussing it with my mate we decided to let sleeping dogs lay. Interestingly, the keyholder who was also a barman and who lived a couple of streets away, resigned and said he would not set foot in the place again. I cannot blame him.
But what of the ghost I hear you ask, well I believe this was a ‘Residual Haunting’ one that is played out again and again, the ghost of that man walking in the place he was probably happiest in life, repeating his walk, for all time, unseeing, unblinking, and conscious of nought.
The club is demolished now, I’ve never been back to Walker since I retired, I don’t know if anything new stands in it’s place or it’s just open ground. Still, it would be interesting to know who he was in life, and if he still walks in spirit.
NORMAN DUNBAR was born and lives in Northumberland. He says: “I am 62, married, 2 grown up children now living their own lives, and am now fully retired after suffering a stroke in 2010, (having said that I have made a full recovery). I have spent my life between the Armed Forces, the Police Service, and teaching, I.T. I have had a few paranormal experiences in my life, and have always wanted to have a go a writing which is how I arrived here. My other passion in life is shooting the English Longbow.”