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Former Brassey Street School

BRIEF HISTORY

A temporary Council School in Birkenhead was opened by the Birkenhead Education Committee in April 1908. Additional buildings were constructed on the site and in April 1911 separate Infants and Senior Boys and Senior Girls departments were established. This was one of six Central Schools established between the wars to take all pupils from local elementary schools at the age of 11

During the post-war reorganisation the Central School became a Secondary Modern School for Girls. However, the Infants School shared the site until its closure in July 1956, when the building was taken over for an extension of the girls secondary school.

The school became known as the Cavendish Enterprise Centre, renting out offices to local businesses.  It was demolished in August 2010.

Since the investigation began, we had found out that the school was actually hit by a bomb during one of the World Wars. It had also been discovered that there may also have been a railway disaster close to the location of the school.

 
WITNESS INTERVIEWS

During August 1999, a series of interviews took place. The witnesses reported that most of the activity has taken place on the first floor corridor which includes the sound of children running through the corridor, footsteps, doors opening and closing, various bangs/thuds, chairs/furniture moving, scraping upon the office walls, music playing then suddenly stopping plus knocks upon the office doors which has also been witnessed on the ground floor. One witness claims to have seen the figure of a man with a beard wearing a chequered shirt standing behind the doors near the Conference Room on the first floor; the figure has reportedly been seen on 3 separate occasions. Objects have been mysteriously moved within one of the offices, unexplained smells on the first floor corridor (near gents), feelings of a presence in the ladies toilets again on the first floor corridor plus uneasy feelings near the toilets on the ground floor. There are also a number of second-hand stories that were reported by the interviewees such as a former member of staff was once leaving the ladies toilets and felt the presence of children surrounding her, the sound of children giggling has also been heard in the ladies toilets, a cleaner has apparently seen the figure of a young girl on the first floor corridor and the sound of a piano has been heard coming from one of the rooms. A commonly-known story was also mentioned during the interviews. Apparently years ago there was a fire at the school and one of the schoolteachers either committed suicide or was burned to death.

3 further events were witnessed later in 1999. One member of staff saw a figure standing in the left-cubicle of the ladies toilets on the first floor, another witnessed hearing someone in the left cubicle of the gents toilets on the first floor whilst he was in the right cubicle only to find no-one there when he came out, and a painter who was on-site also witnessed a male in the gents on the first floor who followed him up the stairs leading to the corridor and disappeared.

PRE-INVESTIGATIONS

Prior to the foundation of Ghanon, the vigil leader and a few other members had undertaken approximately 20 vigils during August 1999 & June 2003. During this period, the following incidents were documented:-

21 Aug 1999 A fairly active vigil the faint sound of a piano/chime was heard by 4 people in the first floor corridor whilst setting up equipment a groan and a door slam were heard and recorded in the first floor corridor a temperature drop of 4.9ºC was recorded within 3.5 minutes during which time female footsteps were heard again in the first floor corridor one member also claims they saw the solid figure of a male wearing dark/black trousers and a light/white shirt, the figure was right side towards him and rotated clockwise before disappearing when the light came on; the event lasted no more than 2 seconds

4 Sep 1999 3 hours prior to the arrival of the group, one member had set-up a video camera in one of rooms, minutes before the rest of the party arrived, the member who was alone in the building had just turned the camera off and moved the equipment into the corridor, on re-entering the room at 7:16pm he witnessed the sound of a low-key piano melody which lasted approximately 6 seconds, unfortunately there were no other witnesses to the event and no equipment was recording.

25 Sep 1999 There was an event witnessed by most of the group at 12:06am (approx) whereby the sound of children could be heard for approximately 9 minutes as if playing in the schoolyard. Unfortunately, we cannot rule out the fact that this may simply have been kids passing in the street.

Oct 1999 We set up a voice-activated cassette recorder in the Conference Room during October to monitor sound 24 hours a day, obtain number of activations within each hour, analyse most productive activity time (excluding working hours) and hopefully record unexplained sounds between during non-working hours (although this would not have been sufficient evidence due to no witnesses) unfortunately there was no specific pattern or active time period.

22 Oct 1999 Whilst setting up the equipment, one member had just started recording when he heard the sound of footsteps on the ground floor corridor. The footsteps were heavy and very clear. They appeared to travel towards and past the member of the group and faded away near reception. NOTE: This event has since been solved and proven.

24 Oct 1999 A door slam was heard by all 5 members at 9:51pm, all members were gathering in the reception area and there was no other person in the building.

Dec 1999 Five more visits took place in December covering various times - a black figure was witnessed by 3 separate group members on 3 different occasions; the first time 2 members saw the motionless figure at the top of the stairs by the ladies toilets from separate ends of the first floor corridor, the event lasting minutes!

5 Dec 1999 2 members witnessed the sound of distant female humming in the ground floor corridor at 3:39am, the event lasted 4 seconds approx.

Jan-Apr 2000 A few more vigils were held with nothing significant to report.

27 Jan 2001 After an 8 month break from the school, it was decided to hold another vigil; there was nothing significant to report.

16 Mar 2001 During a break between session 2 & 3, all members were located in reception area when female footsteps followed by a door closing was heard coming from the stairwell area, the footsteps were heard on 3 more occasions plus various door knockings, all 5 members witnessed these events. At the end of session 3, the sound of a door slam was heard and during the next break the footsteps were heard again except this time they were coming from the ground floor corridor, these were heard on 3 occasions between 22:40 & 23:01.

JanDec 2002 After nearly a year out from the former school, we decided to take another look at this case and held a number of vigils during 2002 but unfortunately came away with no results although proved useful for training and experiment purposes.

25 Jan 2003 At 22:30, sounds of movement and undefined noise from the stairwell to the ground floor (reception end) duration about 10 seconds. All members witnessed the event and were also recorded by minidisc that was located 20 feet into the first floor corridor; no detail revealed by recording. The second event at 22:55, sounds of minor movement from same stairwell but additionally with numerous voices at the same time. Again, recorded by the same minidisc as previously, upon examination there appears to be some slight movement noises but additionally with something that one could describe as baritone male singing, perhaps like a chant or sea shanty or monks singing. The event lasts a little under 10 seconds.

1 Mar 2003 A large bang was heard at 23:35 in the ground corridor and a couple of members reported that it felt colder, both times tally.

14 Jun 2003 Before most of the group had arrived, 6 members were stood outside the main entrance of the building and all heard a large bang from inside the building, no members were inside. Luckily some equipment had been setup but on review of the minidisc, the sound is very much like that of the pipes within the corridor. The other incident was towards the end of the night, most were leaving when it was noticed that a light within one of the units had been turned on. On investigation, the light switch to the unit was found on the wall in the corridor so was most likely that one of our group had switched the light on.

GHANON VIGILS

16 Jan 2004 This was the first vigil run by Ghanon, 10 members attended. Nothing paranormal to report. However there were many "orbs" recorded by one of the CCTV cameras (it is worth noting that this was the only infra-red camera used, the remainder were non infra-red). As there were some new investigators on the vigil, one member demonstrated to show that these were actually dust particles or moisture reflecting the infra-red light back to the camera as they passed near to the lens. The test was carried out by waving a folder in front of the camera and thus, the "orbs" would follow the direction of the draught caused by the group member.

15 May 2004 The history of this case shows that paranormal activity is relatively high when the weather outside is hot. The conditions for this vigil were perfect but unfortunately it was another quiet night with nothing significant to report. 10 members were present on this vigil.

11 Sep 2004 Some people claim that using equipment can deter any paranormal activity and since we have previously witnessed unexplained incidents whereby equipment was not allocated, we decided it would be worthwhile running a vigil without any equipment. Due to the high winds outside, the loading bay doors in the centre of the building were constantly banging and producing very loud thuds. However, we did have one incident in the reception area at 12:10am, a short voice/breathing sound was heard by three members of the group. Unfortunately, we cannot analyse this sound as we had no equipment!!! But would we have witnessed this event otherwise??

22 Jan 2005 There were many incidents reported during the vigil. Various loud thuds and what sounded like ‘distant music’ was heard on the first floor but it was later discovered that both of these were created by a crane working on a nearby railway. One member felt that they had been touched on the back and hair (cellar). Footsteps were heard on the far stairwell, although we are well aware that this location is prone to external sounds, and the sound of a door slamming was heard from the same location. The latter incident was witnessed by three members and was thought to originate from the ground floor, but on questioning other team members, no-one else heard the sound. Could this also have been external? The only other incident to note is that the old mystery of the 'heavy footsteps' sound recorded back in October 1999 has been solved and proven.

19 Feb 2005 A windy night, so it was obvious that there would be plenty of incidents reported. The first incident report was at 10:40pm when various members experienced a sudden drop in temperature throughout the building. A shadow-like triangle was sighted near to the reception area, and footsteps were heard, followed by a cellar door opening/closing. These three separate incidents were witnessed by various members at the same time, surely Paranormal? Maybe not! One of the groups located on the first floor near the ladies toilets noted a gust of wind travelling up from the stairwell which leads down to the ground floor then on to the cellar. On investigation we noticed a draught under the fire doors located opposite the cellar door. On opening the cellar door, an even stronger draught was emitted. We are almost certain that all three events were triggered by this draught. At 11:39pm, one group who were located on the first floor, witnessed the EM meter (which measures change in nearby magnetic fields) sounding for 20 seconds approx. After reviewing the minidisc recording there was no such sound, although during session breaks, when people passed the meter you could clearly hear it. Looking back at the vigil notes, one member who was located on the ground floor, noted that their camera film had finished and started rewinding, a sound easily mistaken for the EM meter. There were plenty of other sounds heard during the vigil but as mentioned previously, the source was most probably of external origin.

11 Mar 2006 After a year break, the group returned to their exclusive venue which marked the 65th anniversary since the fateful bomb raids on the area during World War II. There was only one incident to report from the vigil which occurred at 1:17am. A very distinctive knock/crack was heard possibly on an internal window in the ground floor corridor near Reception; a possible explanation could have been expansion or shrinkage due to temperature.

24 Jun 2006 Our second visit of the year to this venue. Although the vigil was very quiet, a few members did report some unusual sounds/movement which appeared to come from the reception stairwell on the ground floor. The incidents were similar to events witnessed on a previous vigil held on 25 January 2003.

25 Mar 2007 Several incidents took place during a daytime vigil at the former school. A metallic 'dink' sound was heard in the cellar (as if a nail had been thrown at the generator). Maybe the generator itself produced this sound? When the generator re-started, we then waited a while but it failed to replicate the sound that was originally heard. A rattling of doors was heard in the ground floor corridor. Measurement of external wind was over 9mph so it was quite possible that this was the cause. In the cellar again, a 'sniff' was heard at what appeared to be at close range. However we managed to replicate this event by confirming that it was most probably someone walking past the building outside. The final incident was probably the most intriguing. Whilst packing away in the first floor corridor at 10:33pm, a groan/voice accompanied by what sounded like a chair being scraped along the floor was heard by two investigators. At the same time, one other investigator heard a voice call out in an urgent manner. Overall, quite a busy vigil, although the majority of events may just have been of natural causes.

28 Jul 2007 Only one incident to report from an otherwise quiet vigil. At 9:50pm, all of the investigators where located in the ground floor corridor near to the reception area when two members heard very clearly, a female voice say "hello". We tried several ways of replicating the event but without success.

20 Oct 2007 A change from the normal vigil schedule, it was decided to have a night based on experiments and theories. We carried out an infrasound experiment, and to keep an open mind we did a 'scrying' exercise (following up from a recent experience at Plas Teg); we also tested out our new backup CCTV system which now extends our collection to three separate systems.

29 Feb 2008 This year celebrated 100 years since the school was built so we invited some guests to join us on our investigation. A windy night meant that the building noise levels were high obviously due to weather conditions. However, we did have one incident when all present were located on the first floor. Various members reported hearing a voice on several occasions and appeared to be ongoing. Incidents like these do tend to have natural explanations but curiosity meant we had to investigate. Members were asked to flash their torch when the ‘voice’ was heard and on many occasions, two or three torches would flash at the same time. This proved that those reporting the sound, were all hearing the same thing. The second part of the investigation, we had one member located on the ground floor to try and determine if there was anything else that tied in with the event. One investigator then briefly transmitted over a two-way radio and after some time, we discovered that the ‘voice’ was coinciding with the main doors rattling due to the wind problem solved! So although an interesting vigil, there was nothing else significant to report.

10 Jan 2009 Another return to our exclusive venue. Looking back at our time here, although most of our vigils have appeared to have been relatively quiet, most of our best experiences and evidence have been collected here. However on this occasion, although we stayed much longer than usual, there was nothing significant to report.

23 January 2010 After a six month break from investigating, we returned yet again to our exclusive venue in Birkenhead and we were not to be disappointed! At 8:09pm during the first session, two investigators heard a female voice call out 'hello'; the voice appeared to be coming from the toilet area on the ground floor. During the second session at 9.50pm (same location) the female voice was heard again calling out 'hello'; and this time it was witnessed by three investigators. Interesting to note, two of the investigators witnessed the same thing back in July 2007 at almost exactly the same time! Unfortunately, we didn't get any audio recordings of the events. We did 'sort of' replicate the incident by calling 'hello' through the bottom of the fire doors (from outside), but at five metres away the sound was deemed more distant. It is highly unlikely that someone was in the 'locked' grounds but we do not have proof that there wasn't.

6 March 2010 Equipment and investigators were deployed accordingly and session times ran similar to the last vigil in the hope that the female voice would return. We were doubtful it would, and we were right! The vigil was really quiet and there was nothing significant to report.

21 May 2010 After eleven years and forty plus overnight vigils, this was to be our final overnight investigation at the school. The keys had just been passed over to the Demolition team and we very fortunate to be given exclusive access to the whole building. Only one incident to report on the night. At the start of session two at 10:50pm, all of the team were located in the upper room on the wing of the school when a couple of investigators reported seeing "a shadow pass under the door". The incident was investigated immediately and there was no known cause found. There was one other event whereby an investigator thought they may have seen a figure in the Reception area but after further discussion with other team members, we discovered it was one of our crew. Demolition work started shortly after our final investigation at what has been our most interesting venue to date. The school was finally brought to the ground in August 2010. We would personally like to thank the following for all of their kind help during the case: Adrian Marchbank & Chris Cockcroft (Egerton House), Joan McAuslane (Cavendish Enterprise Centre), Peter Johns & Geoff Boden (Wirral Borough Council).