22 May 2009
Paranormal team's called in by the Mayor of Newtown
Mayor Sue Lawson in the Robert Owen Museum
A NIGHT at the museum, and an evening in the chamber of horrors. Would a paranormal investigation of Newtown's Mayor's Chambers and the Robert Owen Museum reveal spirits still holding council.
Mayor Sue Lawson called in Newtown Paranormal after sensing an other-wordly presence.
"It's not necessarily eerie," she told the County Times, "but you know there's something there.
"You talk to people and they say the same thing. That's why we wanted to do a proper investigation."
Cllr Lawson was part of a team that headed straight for the museum – and immediately felt uncomfortable.
"We went to go in there and straight away I felt I didn't like it. I wouldn't go in," she said.
They conquered the fear and entered the museum. Immediately a 'cold' spirit made its presence felt.
"You see it on the television when they say they can feel cold," she said, "but I've always thought it was just a draught – but it's totally different. I could feel it on my right arm then I felt it go behind me and around the left side."
She then had a similar experience in the council chamber itself.
"Rory had sensed a presence by a chair, and I said I would go and stand there myself.
"I could feel her, my right arm was ice cold yet my left arm was warm."
Cllr Lawson said the cold in the museum was just 'unbelievable'.
"Even in the day time there's something about the place," she said, "but at night what doesn't help is the bust of Robert Owen which is down there. You feel like he is watching you."
Newtown Council Chamber was built in 1902 and is Grade-II listed. Originally built as a library and meeting room, the Co-operative Union paid part of the cost in memory of social reformer Robert Owen.
The Robert Owen Museum now occupies what was the library.
In the museum hangs a door – part of Robert Owen's old house – but a doorway to where?
The team's report stated: "A number of light anomalies were captured, mainly in this corner. Three members of the group also had problems with their throats, sore throats or coughs, in this area."
The door backs onto a back room of the adjoining bookmakers Corals.
Shadowy figures have been seen on both sides of the door.
Corals manager Dave Campion is in no doubt there's something lurking in the shadows. "One of my assistants, Zoe, saw a figure standing there in the recess," he said.
"She saw a shape standing there when she was finishing up one night, a guy in a top hat and dark clothes.
"A former member of staff, said she saw something down the back of the shop, felt a dark presence."
"A number of staff refuse to go in one particular toilet, particularly late at night. One member of staff saw something in there, everything went black and she felt really cold, and then suddenly it cleared," he said. "She will not go back in there now, and she's not the only one."
"I'm sure there's something here," added Mr Campion, "I would not say it's bad, but it is definitely there."
The building is believed to have once been Robert Owen's storeroom.
The group picked up a name while in the museum – William Price – who was wearing black striped trousers, a black waistcoat and a top hat. A figure fitting that description has been reported in the past.
A black-cloaked man was also picked up – with an apparent dislike of woman being in authority. Described as an aggressive spirit, tapping noises and breathing were also heard in the same area as the spirit.
Cllr Lawson said: "He didn't have a problem with us being there, but he didn't like the fact that a woman was in power. In the time he was around women probably just stayed in the home."
Creaking and sounds of movement were also reported in the museum.
Most group members reported sensing a 'presence in the room' – but who was it? A name Sarah was attached to the female presence sensed in the council chambers – and Cllr Lawson suggested Sarah could possibly be linked to the Sarah Briscoe Trust, which operates the museum.
The name John Price was also picked up. But no significance has been attached to any names as yet.
Deputy mayor Joy Jones accompanied the team on the investigation.
She said in the museum she thought she saw a shadow – but couldn't say what she saw.
"It might have just been my eyes," she said, "I just saw something I can't explain but don't know what. I wouldn't want to use the word ghost."
However, she added: "I have just never felt comfortable in the museum anyway." With statues peering at the investigators in the dark, it had immediately put people on edge. "Not long after we went in the camera flash bounced off the statues. I just screamed and ran.
"But I had to confess it was just the statue. There was nothing there, I'd just panicked."
The team's scientific investigation of the museum revealed several 'cold spots'. However, the team's digital thermometer failed.
With all batteries charged before they started, some investigators claim that equipment failure is the spirits themselves using the energy from within.
It also revealed high electro magnetic field readings in both the conference room and council chamber.
High readings in a confined area can cause a 'fear cage' effect – making people feel nauseous, have headaches and hallucinate. These symptoms, if evident, disappear quickly upon leaving.