From the Gallery of Modern Art, the Museum of Religious Life and the Peoples’ Palace, Glasgow is not short of a museum to visit. Not surprisingly, some come with a resident ghost or two, says MJ STEEL COLLINS
Scotland Street School Museum
225 Scotland Street, Glasgow, G5 8QB
Originally opened in 1906 as Scotland Street School to educate the children of Glasgow South, this school had one claim to fame that lifted it above the other picturesque Glasgow School Board establishments – it was designed by none other than architectural legend Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The rather dour School Board were a tad po-faced about Mackintosh’s designs and frequently rowed with him over the expense of the project, which eventually ran to £34,000, well over the original budget. The school could accommodate over 1,250 pupils, and was in operation until 1979, when the slum clearances and falling local population led to the school roll plummeting to less than 100 pupils.
It became a museum not long after, charting the history of Scottish education from the 19th century, with classrooms in the styles of different eras from the 1920s to the 1960s and giving modern children the chance to get in costume to experience was school was like back in their Granny’s day.
The museum is very popular, but it seems that for some of its old staff and pupils, school life goes on as much as it has always done. Spectres have been glimpsed around the upper floors; cold spots are experienced in the height of summer, or in the depths of winter, when the central heating is on full blast; and the disembodied voices and footsteps of children have been heard when no one else is about. And it appears the cookery room has a Home Economics inspired poltergeist, where things move by themselves, while the Scottish psychic Tom Rannachan encountered the spirit of an old school mistress.
The Ghost Club has carried out two investigations: during the first, held in October 2007, scenes from the past seemed to play out psychically. A young boy was seen to flee the discipline of a 1930s teacher, while other former staff and pupils were detected flitting about, including an old cookery teacher called Elsie . A ghostly young girl called Bridget Reilly was detected following the investigators about, and the ghost of a small dog was picked up running around.
The next investigation was carried out exactly one year later, in October 2008. Footsteps were heard striding down a floor that was devoid of people, whilst the spirits of former masters came through, including a stern man of military bearing, and a more genial man, who gave his name as Davidson, which was the name of one of Scotland Street School’s earlier headmasters. Ringing a school bell generated activity, including shadow figures and the sound of children giggling.
Glasgow Museum of Transport, Formerly the Kelvin Hall
1445 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AW
Since 2011, the Museum of Transport has been located at The Riverside Museum, at Pointhouse, right next to the Clyde, but for a few decades prior, it had been housed in the Kelvin Hall. Visiting the museum there is the stuff of childhood memories for many a Weegie. Aside from the old cars, steam engines and trams, the one thing that stood out was the mock-up of a fictional 1930s Glasgow street called Kelvin Street.
As well as being a favourite of many children, it was also popular with ghosts. The reasons why are unclear – perhaps it was just a faithful reminder of the past. In the recreated old-fashioned cinema, seats would go down by themselves, whilst a couple of apparitions, including that of a headless figure and a rain soaked man in a hat, who disappeared before the witness’ eyes. Another apparition of a man in a trilby was seen outside one of the mocked up shop fronts by a security man in the 1990s.
Elsewhere in the museum, the same security man heard the sounds of children screaming by the steam engines. The security officer had a number of other psychic experiences in the museum, including seeing figures walking through walls and the sound of footsteps when the museum was otherwise empty.
It’s not known if the ghosts followed the museum to its new accommodation, where there is now a mocked up network of old-fashioned streets, which, to be honest, lacks the atmosphere and detail of the original Kelvin Street.
Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery
Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8AG
Perhaps the leading museum in Glasgow, and certainly a childhood fixture for many Glaswegians for over 100 years as a place to pass a Sunday afternoon. Kelvingrove opened in 1901, originally part of one of the Great Exhibitions held at the adjacent Kelvingrove Park. Several of us felt it was almost sacrilege when the museum closed for a three-year refurbishment – what if the magic was ruined? But thankfully, it wasn’t when Kelvingrove re-opened in 2006.
One “herry dug” story about Kelvingrove was that it was built back to front, (which it actually is), and the architect was so aghast and ashamed, that he committed suicide. He didn’t.
Other spooky stories tied to Kelvingrove are a little more difficult to dismiss as fanciful mythology. One comes from a museum employee, who several years ago, was working late at night when something was encountered lurking in one of the museum towers, that are closed to the public. What it was remains a mystery.
Also strange was the apparent time slip reported in the Fortean Times in March 2008. Around 1985 or 1986, a woman was walking by the museum on what was a usual busy day, with lots of pedestrians and traffic. Suddenly, the scene changed around her, and she found herself in a street full of horse drawn carriages, with the museum gone. It appeared that she had gone back to sometime before the museum’s construction. Seconds later, the scene reverted back to the mid-1980s.