Spirits lifted for ‘Dispatch’ staff

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Things that go bump in the night, a creak on the stair with nobody there, a fleeting shadow disappearing through a solid wall. We’ve encountered them all here at the Forfar Dispatch office in recent months, so we’ve done some digging to find out - is our office haunted?

Since moving into the former Post Office building in December 2007, some staff members have felt that they are not the only ones present in the building.

Although the office areas where staff spend their working day are light and spacious some have felt that there is something lurking unseen, and many have not felt comfortable being alone anywhere in the office.

In recent months things seem to have become spookier. Members of staff have reported feelings of being watched, cold spots, unexplained noises and at least two people have independently seen a shadow-like figure moving out of the corner of their eye.

With most activity seemingly centred around our archive area to the rear of the building and hardly anyone feeling able to go up there alone it was decided that something had to be done.

First things first and we needed to find out some more about the history of our office building which sits at 117-119 Castle Street.

In recent years the building was used as the meeting place and halls of the Jehovah’s Witnesses but before that it housed the Post Office - the lettering for which can still be seen carved into the masonry at the front.

Alik Whyte, local historian, filled us in with some more details, he said: “The building you now occupy was opened on May 22, 1899 after the closure of the then Post Office at 10, East High Street.

“From around 1880, there had been on-going attempts to find suitable new premises – including where the Clydesdale Bank now stands.

“There was much opposition to the eventual site selected, and by 1914, relocation to East High Street or North Street was considered, but put on hold because of World War One.

“Proposals surfaced again in 1919, but it would be 1971 before the present Post Office in West High Street was opened.”

Although there are no so-called documented cases about the old Post Office building being haunted, it has been suggested that ghosts from elsewhere in the town have been known to move from one location to the other.

Laurie Rogers, local author and historian, told us of one spirit of note in our area which “flies around”. Apparently it has been spotted in the flats above the dental surgery in Castle Street but there have been no reported sightings of it in our office building.

He also told us that spirits often roam around an area and are not necessarily confined to one building or location.

So, if they are not necessary tied to our building then who could these spirits be? In his book Phantoms and Fairies, local author Forbes Inglis, has a few suggestions from nearby hotels. He said: “The Royal Hotel is thought to be haunted. Footsteps are regularly heard, doors slam and telephones ring in empty rooms.

“Some of the strange happenings there are thought to be linked to the suicide of a maid servant in the old stables during the early part of the 20th century.

“Over at the Stag Hotel it is believed that there may be a poltergeist in residence as beer barrels, tables and chairs are regularly overturned, with no logical explanation as to why this should happen.

“One former owner had two large Alsatian dogs but even they would not enter certain parts of the building.”

Finally, Mr Whyte also mentioned a potential spook, he said: “A postman by the name of Murray was drowned in the Chapel Street pond in 1901.

“The site of the open-air pond is now a car park next to the old St. James’ Church and was used for swimming before the Baths in the Vennel opened.

However, he added: “I have not read anywhere that he might haunt his old workplace!”

Whether the spirits were visitors or ‘residents’ in the building, activity was increasing and so help was sought from healer and energy worker Neil Tilley and his daughter Laurie, a complementary therapist who can sense energy and communicate with spirit, helping them to move over.

Neil and Laurie visited our offices last Tuesday for an initial assessment of the spirit activity in the building.

A number of ‘hotspots’ were identified, mostly towards the rear offices and the archive area, and Neil and Laurie did some energy work to begin the clearing of the building.

Laurie has placed crystals in strategic points including the stairs to the upper front offices and in the archive area itself.

Neil and Laurie have picked up on two spirits so far, an elderly gentleman named ‘Thomas’ who is ready to move on and a mischievous joker who is thought to be a young boy. It is hoped that we will have more information about these spirits and the others - Laurie thought we might have as many as twelve - in the coming weeks. Although the building has not yet been cleared completely, staff agree that the atmosphere in the office has been made considerably lighter.

Watch this space for more updates in the near future.