Scotland

Clydeside Ghostly Scraps by M J Steel Collins

Floating around Glasgow and its surrounding area are some ghost stories that exist only in snippet form. Whilst not enough to form full articles, they are still rather noteworthy. Here, we look at six of them.

The ghost haunting Dalmarnock Road Bridge in the north of the city is one of the best known in the local grapevine. It is also one of the most poignant. The story goes that the bridge is haunted by the apparition of a young man who committed suicide by jumping from the bridge into the Clyde. Unfortunately, that is the route taken by many individuals over the years in Glasgow. The ghost in question is described as being about 30 years old, with short hair in a crew cut and wearing a long navy jacket and black trousers.  He appears so solid that many who encounter him believe he is a living person. This was the case of one man walking along the bridge in 1972. He got a bad feeling when he saw a young man standing further along the bridge, staring into the water. The witness yelled at the young man not to do anything, but was only a few short feet away when the youth jumped. When he looked over the parapet, the witness saw the jumper fade into the ether. Andrew Green recorded the incident.
Not far from Dalmarnock Road Bridge, in the town of Rutherglen, is the former Royale Snooker Club. During the mid 1990s, the club was undergoing renovations before re-opening under new management. Before the opening, the manager was standing in the lounge checking over the new plans, and saw the reflection of an elderly man in his 60s or 70s looking at him from the gantry mirror. The old gent, who had a thinning hairline and sported a grey beard, was clad in a grey suit. He wasn’t there when the manager looked behind him to see who it was. The mysterious old man’s face also popped up on the club CCTV.  A former manager of the club popped in, one day, for a wee game of snooker, requesting any table, but eight because that was where the ghost liked to hang out.
Back in Glasgow’s West End, it was reported in a local paper in 1979 that an elderly woman and her husband were moved from their council house because of ghosts. The house wasn’t that old, but apparently sat on the site of a previous house that had a reputation for being haunted. There were five ghosts in all, a doctor, his wife and their three children. The ghosts had been seen and felt about the newer property by the elderly woman, who also had the dubious honour of being physically examined by the ghostly doctor! The couple’s teenage granddaughter lived with them, but hadn’t experienced much out of the ordinary. Their daughter, however, had encountered the ghosts on her regular visits to her parents.
Still in Glasgow, in June 1977, a Mrs McCarron had a bizarre experience, which was later recounted by Andrew Green. Mrs McCarron had gone ‘intae toon’, to the City Centre, in order to buy a present for a friend. Thinking along the line of clothes, she went into J & P Harris, Outfitters, to have a look. Whilst she browsed the aisles, not finding anything that took her fancy, she came across a man sitting in a chair reading the paper, quite the thing, in the centre aisle. His suit was rather heavy for the summer, and a little outmoded. This struck Mrs McCarron as somewhat odd in a busy Glasgow shop, so she started towards the bizarre figure, which promptly vanished. Later, Mrs McCarron went back into the shop to find out what had happened. She was told that older customers used to be given a chair, but that was kept close to the wall, not the middle aisle, which Mrs McCarron realised with hindsight had been far too small to accommodate a chair.
Another curious little story comes from Paisley, about six miles away from Glasgow. A former manager of one of the town’s pubs told me that one night she found herself being shoved out of the way by an invisible figure. It transpired that the pub once had a loyal bouncer who stood in the door and liked to take his rest near the bar. He loved his job so much, that his ghost hung around the pub after his death. The manager had been standing in his favourite spot, which he hadn’t been happy about!
To return to Glasgow, we end with a tale dating from the 19thcentury, which was gleefully told by renowned ghost lore collector, Elliot O’Donnell in his Scottish Ghost Stories. In the 1800s, Blythswood Square was the place to live if you were a well-heeled Glaswegian. One Captain Smythe was delighted to be able to secure one of the houses there for his family at a cheap rent. The only problem was the bathroom. He found it a dark, miserable and even evil part of the house, but thought it might improve if he redecorated the room and installed a new bath. Despite this, Captain Smythe still found it a sinister place, and held off using the bathroom, letting other family members be the first guinea pigs. Eventually, at the insistence of his wife, he had to take the plunge and have a bath.
He set about the task with some trepidation and went in armed with his towels and candles. All seemed well, until he fell over testing the water temperature with his foot. In true Hammer Horror tradition, that is when the candles decided to go out. Captain Smythe was struggling to get up, when he heard the sound of someone washing coming from the bath, water slopping about the tub. The corner of the bathroom had a small airing cupboard, from which the good Captain now saw the apparition of a beautiful, dark complexioned young woman emerge. She walked towards the bath, stepping on the Captain as she went, and proceeded to strangle whoever was in the tub. Trapped and terrified, Captain Smythe lay there until the individual in the bath stopped struggling. The murderous young woman shook the bathwater from her arms, a look of satisfaction on her face, and returned to the cupboard.
The candles in the bathroom reignited and Captain Smythe found his feet. A quick glance at the bath revealed it empty. Thoroughly terrified, heedless of what the maids might think, Captain Smythe shot out of the bathroom naked and ran to his wife. She wasn’t exactly sympathetic, laughing at his fear. However, she swore him to secrecy; as such a story would terrify the children, not to mention the servants. Nothing was said, and the family lived in the house contentedly for a few weeks – until the eldest son went to have a bath one evening. In the tub, the lad beheld the inexplicable sight of a naked, bloated and slightly purple old man floating just beneath the water. Responding to the boy’s screams, the family ran to the bathroom, but found the tub to be empty. However, as they turned to leave, they bumped into the smug murderess, who smirked at them before vanishing by the airing cupboard. Mrs Smythe wasn’t quite as dismissive, collapsing into a hysterical heap on the living room sofa. The family very quickly moved out.

Before they left, the Smythes made some enquiries amongst the neighbours. It appeared that the house was once owned by a wealthy old man, who married a young Spanish woman several decades his junior. The neighbours reported the couple used to have fierce rows, which could be heard by everyone in the street. The young wife, they agreed, had a terrible temper. She also made frequent mention of her husband’s regular fainting fits. One day, he was found dead in the bath, a fainting fit believed to be the cause. The late gent’s wife inherited his fortune, and soon she left, never to be heard of again

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