Although Alanbrooke Hall in Belfast was demolished in the early 2000s, it’s certainly left a lasting imprint on some who lived there as students over the years. CHRISTINE MILLER tells us more about the spooky real-life story that inspired the viral hashtag #BloodyHellKen.
The very first of the 15-part Uncanny series delved into the strange story of a student residence in Belfast, which, as it turns out, had been terrorising a number of young people who had lived there.
Alanbrooke Hall, part of Queen’s Elms Village, was an unremarkable 1960s-designed building with little-to-no character. Nothing that would make it stand out, anyway, And there was certainly nothing to suggest the horrors that were to befall some of the students who had the misfortune of being placed in one room in particular: Room 611.
A Petrifiying Prelude of Things to Come at Alanbrooke Hall
The story begins with Ken, today a “highly respected geneticist. A man who doesn’t believe in ghosts, but cannot get over the fact that he believes he saw one 40 years ago as a student in Belfast”.
The year was 1981, and Ken was studying for a degree in microbiology at Queen’s University in the city. He shared a flat with James, Room 611, on the sixth floor of the building.
It wasn’t long before inexplicable, horrifying occurrences began within the four walls of the pair’s flat.
One night in the middle of winter, both men had just gone to bed when Ken saw the distinct silhouette of a man near their desk. Describing it, he told Danny Robins, presenter of Uncanny, “It was just the blackest black I’d ever seen”.
Ken said that immediately after clocking the figure, he heard what he could only describe as “very, very loud white noise” coming from his ears, alongside an intense feeling of “pure, distilled evil coming from this figure,” which he believed to be male.
Ken went even further and said the energy in the room felt like “everything that is good, everything that is called hope, had disappeared”.
Flooding over him in waves, the feeling was unmistakable and deeply intense.
“This thing wants to do absolute harm against me,” he remarked.
“Bloody hell, Ken”, was Danny’s response, a response that went viral on Twitter.
What happened next, however, was even more shocking.
The figure started to move slowly towards Ken, at which point Ken felt he had little option but to lunge at the person in front of him.
As soon as he did, the figure disappeared.
Ken quickly told his flatmate James what had happened. And, as it turned out, James had a similarly odd experience exactly the same time as Ken.
Trying to get to sleep, James said he saw a beam of light in his head, which grew larger until it changed into the back of a young man’s head. The head then turned, gave James a sinister look, and vanished.
The man was young, about their age, he believed.
James said it was one of the most disturbing things that ever happened to him.
The Return of the Unwelcome Visitor
The following day, a Friday, meant that everyone had gone home for the weekend.
All except Ken.
That night, about 9.30 in the evening, Ken was completely alone in the residence reading a book. From his flat, he could hear the lift stop on his floor and the mechanical doors open.
Right away, Ken felt the exact same “force of evil” that had gripped him the previous night.
Ken then heard loud footsteps (“as if someone was wearing boots with nails”) coming from the corridor, a brief pause, and then multiple, successive, violent thumps on his door – which Ken described as if someone was kicking the door, or there was “multiple fists”. It was so intense, he could see the door shaking; so much so, he wondered if it could come away from the hinges.
Ken decided to greet whoever, or whatever, was behind the door; yet when he opened it, no one was there.
Just as had happened the previous night, the feeling of complete evil had vanished alongside the unsettling happening.
Although terrified, Ken’s intrigue was stoked. In the following days, he asked around and found that he wasn’t the only student to have faced completely inexplicable happenings in Room 611.
Two students who had lived in the very same flat the previous year told him that books would fly violently across the room, unsecuring themselves from the bookshelf to only be hurtled across the room and smash violently into the facing wall when they stayed in 611.
Ken moved out the following year, yet it didn’t stop stories circulating about Room 611’s unnerving occurrences. Two or three months after they first moved in, Ken was approached by the two students now living in his and James’ old room.
The newcomers had begun to experience regular nightmares of a “dark” nature, having never had previous trouble with disturbing dreams. It became that they would both have the same nightmares at precisely the same time as each other.
This was just the beginning for them.
Soon cutlery was flying across the room. This cutlery started to become arranged in such a manner that it would be propped up where the students would place their feet getting in and out of bed.
As if whatever was within 611 wanted to cause injury.
Tragedy Attached to Alanbrooke Hall’s Room 611
Ken and James were by now itching to understand what was going on at Alanbrooke Hall. They soon learned that there were three deaths attached to Room 611 in Alanbrooke Hall.
One resident died by falling out of the sixth story window, another had passed away in the room, and a third who lived in the room had been brutally murdered while out and about in Belfast.
Even Alanbrooke Hall’s resident cleaner confided to both Ken and James that she did not like cleaning their room. So much so that she felt uncomfortable doing so and was convinced there was a presence watching her as she worked.
More Information Comes to Light
The story of the terrifying force within Alanbrooke became an online sensation with Uncanny listeners eager to know more about the case. And so, by episode 5 of the series, Danny returned to the story with more information from more of those who had their own unsettling tales from Room 611 in Alanbrooke.
Danny spoke to Clare Logan who had a friend live in 611, but so strong was her fear within the flat that she refused to ever revisit him.
Danny also spoke to Gary Foster, now a virologist who studied at Queen’s and was one of the student wardens of Alanbrooke after Ken and James had long graduated.
Gary lived on the very top floor of the ten-storey residence during the summer of 1988 when all the other students had gone home after the year’s final term.
Once, just like Ken had experienced some years ago, Gary heard the lift starting to move. Being a warden, Gary instinctively made his rounds, searching each floor. And, while this happened a few times, he would always find no culprit.
Gary remembered coming back to the tower block one evening only to find all the lights on, on one of the floors. After it happened a few times, a friend suggested to Gary that he place some tape across the entrance to the building and if the tape was broken upon his return, he would know someone had a key and was turning the lights on.
This was not to be the case.
With the tape untouched and the lights continuing to be turned on without any human interference, Gary was becoming increasingly aligned to the prospect that there were otherworldly forces at play within the building.
The phenomena continued with the internal telephones ringing throughout the various floor of the building. Each of these phones could only call out from somewhere inside of Alanbrooke, and each time Gary approached any one of the phones, the ringing would cease.
One day in Gary’s flat there was what he thought was a power surge: “The microwave went ping, the desk lamps blew, the light bulbs blew – broken glass flying everywhere”. An electrician who was called to visit told him there was no evidence that there had been any type of power malfunction and the occurrence had only affected Gary’s own flat.
Most sinisterly of all, Gary one day tripped over something and began to fall. He landed half hanging out of the tenth-storey flat window, presumably precariously close to falling to serious injury, or worse.
When he looked to see what had caused him to trip so dangerously, there was absolutely nothing there.
Mercifully for some, Alanbrooke Hall was demolished in 2001.
What do you make of Ken’s strange tale? Maybe you were a one-time resident at Alanbrooke Hall? Tell us all in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!
And, don’t forget to check out our interviews with Uncanny host Danny Robins, as well as one of the show’s experts, parapsychologist Evelyn Hollow – both of which are on our Spooky Isles YouTube channel.