Thursday, 11 February 2010

Staffordshire Pub Investigation.

From The Archives:

INVESTIGATION REPORT: The Star and Garter Public House – Grange Street – Burton On Trent – Staffordshire.

Date Of Visit: 11th / 12th March 2005
Duration Of Visit: Approx. 5 hours.
Time of Arrival: Approx. 11.00 p.m.


Investigative Team – 6 W.M.G.C. members and Star and Garter Barman – Steve Ousby – stayed with team for the duration of the visit.

Also Present in Building at time of visit - Landlord Alan Wood, partner (unnamed) and two dogs.

[I]. Aims / Inv. Process:

General investigation of property, mainly focussing on sections of building noted as being of particular relevance / importance regarding the paranormal history of the site. Investigation procedure incorporating:

a) 1st person audio / visual observation.

b) Static (area based) audio / visual recording, incorporating standard / night shot camera’s and digital audio recording equipment. Also wireless (radio) security camera.

c) General temperature / humidity recording. (Incorporating ‘ambient’ and ‘Gun’ devices).

d) Trigger objects – listed below:

• 12” tall mannequin figure – positioned on brick ledge in disused cellar room, opposite doorway.

• Large cross – outlined on sheet of white paper – placed on brick ledge in main cellar room. (In general area where a ceramic mug has recently been found by staff, inexplicably shattered. *See ‘Appendix: [2] – part 5’ below).

• Small bible – primed with movement sensor / alarm device – positioned on bay window seating in ground floor lounge.

[II]. Primary (1st Hand) Notes: Investigation Procedure, plus Findings, Experiences / Poss. Significant Events:

*12.37 a.m. – Video recording session utilising two video camera’s situated in disused cellar area. (Both using ‘night shot’ capacity). ‘Camera One’ placed at front wall of room facing rear of property. (Situated directly under Lounge bay window on ground floor). ‘Camera Two’ situated on tall wooden bar stool in front of cellar door, facing mannequin (trigger object), diagonally across room. Session ended: 1.37 a.m.

*12.43 a.m. – Video recording session set up in 1st floor function room. Camera situated at far rear end of room, facing entrance door. Small children’s toy – a rattling ball – placed on carpeted stage directly in front of camera. [*Note: Sound of T.V. carrying through from private quarters of building noticed during session set up]. Session ended: 1.13 a.m.

*1.15 a.m. – Video recording session set up in disused cellar area. (Night Shot capacity). Camera again situated on wooden stool in precisely the same manner as 12.37 a.m. session. Session ended: 1.45 a.m.

*1.50 a.m. – Vigils held in ‘function room’ and ‘disused cellar area’:

a) Cellar vigil – Frazer Smith, Darren Simpson, Steve Chew and (barman) Steve Ousby. Group conducted experimental question and answer session, but elicited no obvious response.

b) Function room vigil – Len Jackson and Kevin Wallace. A number of sounds were heard sporadically throughout this session, but it was evident that the bulk of these noises could be pinned down to activity within the private quarters of the building. (Dogs scratching at doors, etc).

At the same time as the above, a video recording session was made in the function room. Camera facing bay window area of room. All sessions – vid. Recording and vigils - ended: 2.20 a.m.

*2.40 a.m. – digital audio recording session set up in disused cellar area. Mini-disk recorder placed on tall wooden stool. Session ended: 3.10 a.m.

*3.15 a.m. - Vigils held in ‘function room’ and ‘disused cellar area’:

a) Cellar vigil – Len Jackson and Kevin Wallace. Video recording session ran in cellar corridor – facing bottom of cellar steps – throughout vigil session.

b) Function room vigil – Frazer Smith, Steve Chew, Darren Simpson and (barman) Steve Ousby. During the vigil, Steve Ousby reported to the group that he could feel a ‘pins and needles’ effect in one of his hands. Apparently, according to Steve, this is usually taken as a sign that there is some form of ‘ghostly activity’ afoot. (Though nothing further occurred to back up this notion).

Both sessions ended: 3.45 a.m.

*Just prior to 4.00 a.m. – Investigator Steve Chew cataloguing cellar area with a digital camera produces three images, in quick succession, containing a peculiar misty, orange effect across the photographs. The effect differs in intensity and size between the three shots. Upon scrutiny, no obvious reason could be found to account for the images, but some form of technical / camera effect cannot be completely discounted.

Group leaves building at approx. 4.00 a.m.

Brief Site / Staff Notes and Considerations: Unfortunately, a number of factors associated with the premises in question were somewhat non-conducive to an ideal investigation scenario. Firstly, the buildings clientele appeared reluctant to leave the premises – resulting in a rather late start to the night’s proceedings. While certain checks and inspections were made prior to the last customers finally leaving – around 1.30 .a.m. – there was considerable debate within the group concerning the point of carrying out any form of recording sessions, etc, due to noise contamination from the main bar area. Despite the latter mentioned, it was suggested that two of the allegedly ‘most haunted’ area’s within the pub – the cellar and the function room – were sufficiently ‘out of the way’ as to merit some attention. (Hence, 3 recording sessions – in succession – being held in these particular area’s between 12.37 a.m. and 1.50 a.m.)

Once the investigation had begun, it was also noted that certain contamination – mainly noise related – would probably be carrying into the body of the building from the private living quarters. (Television, dogs, residents movement, etc). Main recordings affected by this situation would be those made in the function room area, which is situated close to the private quarters. Also, noise from the street outside – passing cars, drunks, etc - seemed particularly loud in the function room.

Landlord and staff members appeared to be all ‘pro-paranormal’ with regards to their views on activity at the site. Both Alan Wood and Steve Ousby claimed to have experienced happenings first hand, with the latter being pointed out as someone who was a ‘conductor’ for supposed ghostly incidents. (Quote: Mr. Wood). Mr Wood told the group that he had been a sceptic (with regards to the paranormal) prior to moving into the premises, while Steve Ousby admitted having a considerable interest / belief in the subject.

It was ascertained by the group that the Star and Garter was ‘not yet’ on the Burton Ghost Walk, but was, hopefully, going to be added to the list of places visited.

[III]. Secondary Notes: Audio / Visual Results.

None of the video / audio recordings taken during the investigation contained anything which might be regarded as of obvious ‘paranormal’ significance. Most of the recordings did contain some form of sporadic noise – click’s, knocks, taps, distant movement sounds, etc – but most of these could be put down to being naturally occurring contamination within the building itself – i.e. persons / animals moving around in the private quarters; the building settling; pub related equipment / machinery, etc.

[IV]. General Findings / Conclusions.

Nothing of an obvious paranormal nature was detected during the investigation. Only one item of passing interest were noted – namely, the three ‘flawed’ photographs taken just prior to 4.00 a.m. While being of interest, some form of rational explanation – i.e. camera fault - cannot be ruled out.

Thermometer readings taken throughout the night revealed that the temperature in the disused cellar area fluctuated by only .2 of a degree during the stay. The temperature in the function room fluctuated by one whole degree.

[V]. Appendices:

Appendix: [1] – Paranormal Related History. (Source: Sent to group by Chris Campbell-Brown of The Burton Ghost Walk).

The ghost that reportedly haunted the former British Oak at the time of this particular tale was said to be a playful one. He has many tricks up his sleeve, one of his favourites is to draw off exactly half a pint of beer, and the landlord knew the exact quantity because he put a glass under the tap to catch it. This happened on several occasions over the years, although from time to time it was changed from beer to cider, until the landlord disconnected the pipes to the cellar. Although the alcohol stopped dispensing the noises from the pumps continued as the ghostly presence tried to get himself a drink, but he never managed to magic one.

The cleaner and occasional barmaid was collecting dishes in the bar, she was carrying empty plates into the kitchen when a light fitment came crashing down from the ceiling leaving torn wires dangling. The bar staff after an evening serving in the pub have found to their amazement that the taps on the pumps in the barrels have been switched off in the cellar. It is impossible to serve draught beer without these.

The doors in the upstairs living quarters have rattled ominously but nobody is there and strange things happened in the bar area. The landlord would lock up every night and switch the lights of only to find them all switched in again in the morning. Ashtrays would move from table to table or disappear all together.

This activity was not only isolated to this period previous landlord’s have spoken of bottles flying of the shelves and smashing on the floor of the bar and ashtrays flying of tables. A party who used the upstairs function room at the time heard strange noises but when they checked there was absolutely nobody there at all.

The landlords dogs were afraid to go down the cellar, they trembled and ran upstairs with fright. One dog that normally had a good appetite could not eat for a week after being in the cellar area. Rumour has it that the area in the cellar where the dogs where so scared is where an ex landlord had committed suicide, although we have been unable to find any historical records to verify this. Also located in the bar area is a dead mans chair, that to this day regulars refuse to sit in due to it’s history of users dying shortly after sitting in it.

Another former landlord striped down the wallpaper on a wall to find a picture of Ben Truman (the pub was a Truman’s house before being sold to other brewers). All attempts to cover the picture failed miserably as it showed through layer upon layer of paint, eventually they papered over it.

Is this the ghost of the former British Oak Ben Truman who doesn’t like you drinking other breweries beer or is it the alleged hanged man we will leave that for you decide.

Appendix: [2] – Paranormal Related History. (Source: Information related to group by residents of Star and Garter on night of investigation).

1. Current occupants moved in to premises on Aug. 19th 2004 and alleged paranormal activity began within days of them taking over the property. Landlord – Alan Wood – claims to have been a sceptic before moving into the Star and Garter, but, through exposure to alleged activity within the property, he now admits that he has to revise his beliefs on such matters.

2. W.M.G.C. members informed that a number of past owners / staff had reported supposed paranormal activity.

3. People living near to the premises have allegedly spoken of hearing barrels moving both in the cellars of the building – late at night – and in the yard situated at the rear of the pub. The sound of horses have also been heard from the yard area – though only by people living in close proximity to the property and not by residents of the pub itself. Apparently, the landlord’s dogs will not go into the arched area, attached to stable block, in the pub yard. Steve Ousby also admits to having had ‘strange feelings’ about this particular area on at least one occasion.

4. Landlords dogs refuse to go into pub cellar.

5. General Cellar: Staff apparently believe that both an adult, male presence and that of a child exist in this area. Mr Wood reported that he sometimes feels his ‘hand being held’ in the cellar – something which he ascribes to the child-like presence. / A plastic jug – usually left in the cellar sink – has been known to move, supposedly of it’s own accord. / Buckets move of own accord. / A ceramic mug, accidentally left in the cellar by Mr. Wood, was later found smashed to pieces in the main beer cellar area. (Mug fragments still in situ at time of visit and photographed by group member). / Numerous cold spots and feelings have allegedly been detected in this area. / Damp marks visible on the wall of the disused cellar area were pointed out to W.M.G.C. members as being potentially ‘sinister’. / Gas taps sometimes turned off in cellar, apparently of own volition.

6. Gypsy-like woman, allegedly seen by Steve Ousby, in the process of descending the main staircase to the function room / private quarters. Vanished after a couple of seconds.

7. Following a ‘Karaoke’ session in function room one night, Steve Ousby and another (unnamed) witness apparently saw dark figure standing near to window overlooking pub yard. No real description could be given for the figure concerned. Vague and indistinct form.

8. Vague figure sometimes seen in short corridor leading from lounge room to main bar area. Steve Ousby suggests that this may be the same form witnessed in the function room area.

9. Odd noises – laughter, etc – sometimes heard from private quarters of building.

10. Staff report having seen the figure of an old man seated in the lounge, to the left hand side of the bay window seat. Present for a matter of seconds, then vanishes. Remarked that he is seen when bright sunlight is streaming in through the bay window(?)

All the best,

West Midlands Ghost Club

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