MJ STEEL COLLINS reveals five Glasgow poltergeists from her new book, Uncanny Clydeside
The Mansfield Street Whirrer
In 1968, Lachlan and Mary Hanlon became the butt of their unsympathetic friends’ jokes after leaving their tenement flat in Mansfield Street, Partick, claiming it to be haunted.
Phenomena had increased from an inexplicable rapping, to a strange whirring sound, temperature drops, glowing shapes hovering above the bed and Lachlan being thrown from his seat by an unseen force.
The couple, who had become the butt of their friends’ jokes, enlisted the help of the local newspaper, The Evening Citizen, and were accompanied back to their flat by reporter Jim Brown, who witnessed Lachlan huddling precariously close to the fire, claiming to be freezing and the letter box rattling by itself.
The poltergeist was more active whenever the bed recess was occupied, where previous elderly tenant had been found dead a few years prior.
Dancing Eggs – Glasgow Poltergeists?
American students studying at Glasgow University left their flat in Gibson Street, despite its handy proximity to their campus in 1958 after witnessing eggs dancing on a shelf, accompanied by a bread board, hearing strange voices and their radio switch itself back on immediately after being turned off.
The Govan Wailer
Paul Anderson was perplexed when his Govan Cross flat appeared to be haunted throughout the 1960s and 70s.
A crucifix on a broken necklace hanging from a nail on the wall started spinning uncontrollably when Paul was talking to his wife early one Friday evening, and the sound of a baby crying, although there were no infants nearby, led to Paul removing a fireplace in search of a baby’s skeleton just before he moved out.
A Blessing In Disguise
Peter Underwood recounts a case centred around an unnamed Glasgow council flat, in which newly resident family with a six month old baby were plagued by knockings and items flying around, leading to them eventually moving out.
A medium made contact with the entity, which claimed to be a deceased relative trying to make the family aware that their child had something stuck in its throat.
An X-Ray revealed this to be the case, and the child had emergency surgery to remove a potentially fatal blockage from its trachea.
The Balornock Poltergeist
Just a few years prior to the famed Enfield Poltergeist, a similar case broke out in Glasgow North, involving two warring neighbours living in the Northgate Quadrant.
The Grieves lived in the flat above the Keenans, and neither had seen eye to eye for years. In the Grieves family were David, his wife Elizabeth, their two children, 14 year old Derek and 11 year old Jeffrey and Elizabeth’s elderly mother.
The Keenans were James Keenan, his wife and 30 year old son Gordon, who had health problems. James Keenan was also in poor health. The addition of a poltergeist made things worse between the families.
The whole mess began on 3 November 1974, when the two Grieves boys were awoken at 10pm by a knocking in their room, which was blamed on the Keenans.
As the knockings continued, the Police became involved, who eventually arrested the Keenans for causing the disturbance.
However, they were released when the knocking carried on after they had been taken to Springburn Police Station.
Activity escalated, and the Police asked Prof. Rev. Murdo Ewen MacDonald, Professor of Practical Theology at Strathclyde University for assistance, who soon found himself getting phone calls from David Grieves about levitating ash trays.
Police became increasing baffled as they investigated, handing in reports about beds ‘moving in a northerly direction’.
Furniture flew about the Grieves’ home, the poltergeist tapped out “The Death March” and Elizabeth Grieves claimed that the spirits responsible had contacted her, saying they were the ghosts of miners killed in an accident at a mine where James Keenan had been manager, though there was no evidence of this in his work history.
The activity followed the Grieves when they escaped to relatives for a break, and they returned home to find it had been turned upside down.
An ‘exorcism’ carried out by Prof Rev MacDonald and the Strathclyde University Chaplain Rev. David Macgee settled things down, but after seeing a news report about a Newcastle family experiencing similar phenomena, the Grieves took their story to the Glasgow Herald in January 1975, after which, all hell broke lose, and Glasgow ghost hunter, Professor Archie E Roy became involved.
The media attention made school even more intolerable for the Grieves boys, and poltergeist activity followed them there.
Both boys showed superhuman strength, kicking over heavy furniture and throwing their burly uncle across the room.
Derek, in particular, was unhappy at this point, not helped by the fact he loathed school.
Things started to calm after the death of James Keenan in May 1975, and Derek happily left school upon turning 15, and got his dream job as an apprentice electrician.