Paranormal Investigations UK

  Professional Paranormal Investigation Team




The local newspaper account of the Rochdale poltergeist case was read by Alicia Leigh and Stephen Mera, members of NARO/Northern Anomalies Research Organization (identified in other sources as MAPIT/Manchester's Association of Paranormal Investigation & Training).  Alicia contacted the Gardeners and arranged to interview them.  Jim Gardener's wife Vera had been living in the residence for 14 years and her 33-year-old daughter Jeanette had moved into the bungalow ten months previously at the time the phenomena commenced.  Alicia and Stephen were joined by NARO chairman Peter Hough for a visit to the house on August 31, 1995.  

Jim Gardener, Vera's second husband of 18 months, explained what had been happening.  "It started about 10 months ago when we noticed a damp patch on the wall of the back bedroom."  This was occupied by Vera's grown-up daughter, Jeanette.  "It began to seep water and we called the housing department.  They examined the loft, but couldn't find any leaks.  We left it — then it began on the ceiling."
 
The Gardeners wondered whether the moisture was due to condensation.  They were later astounded when water flashed across the ceiling.  "It would start dripping in one place then shoot from corner to corner.  The edges were jagged like broken glass, and it would finish at a point."
The housing department installed extraction fans in the kitchen and bathroom, where water had also begun dripping.  The phenomena resumed in Jeanette's bedroom for several months with bedding and the carpet regularly having to be dried out.  When Jeanette moved into the front bedroom, the dripping followed her there.  Then:
 
It stopped suddenly and for a whole week nothing happened.  Jim relaid the carpet and Jeanette moved back into her bedroom, but within 10 minutes, water started dripping from the ceiling.
 
Apart from the dripping there were other phenomena — handles turned, doors opened and quite often a smell of cigarette smoke pervaded the Gardeners' bedroom.  It smelled of licorice.  Jim smoked a pipe but Vera's first husband, Geoffrey, had been fond of cigarettes rolled in licorice papers.  He had been a chronic asthmatic and had collapsed in the hall where he had died from a massive coronary.
 
Peter Hough mentioned that Jim Gardener described an incident that occurred at bedtime one night: "There was no one else in the house.  We hadn't been in bed 10 minutes when we heard a coughing in the corner.  I got up and checked through the house, but we couldn't explain it."
  
During the investigation of the Rochdale house, Alicia Leigh was quoted about what she witnessed while looking at an open door: "I noticed that the bottom section of the door was wet.  As I was about to alert the others, thousands of tiny droplets suddenly, and instantaneously, covered the entire door.  It happened right before my eyes."  The NARO members themselves witnessed the phenomenon of water suddenly flashing across the ceiling.
The Gardeners agreed that a NARO team could investigate further during an overnight visit on September 5.  That night, the original three investigators were joined by psychic Valerie Field, Vic Sligh and Carol Morse.  Interviews with family members brought reports of levitating household objects, including knives and forks.  Family members included Jim's son David and Jeanette's fourteen-year-old daughter Ann, whose friend Susan was also present.  "Vera, Ann, Jim and David had all been hit by objects, witnessed by one of the others."
  
The lampshade in the hallway kept swinging; something plugged and unplugged a radio alarm-clock; bath taps turned on; and objects appeared in beds.  Jeanette and him saw a Bisto tin, containing cigarette cards, float off the floor and onto a bed.  When Vera heard her name called while she was alone in the house, she spent the rest of the night at a friend's house.
 
During the Centrahoma interviews, Brenda Bell and Jearld Carlton Bell were both reported to have heard their names called on separate occasions.  It is a phenomenon I experienced myself when I was around the age of five.
  
After the Gardener family left the house for the evening, the NARO team began their observations.  Stephen used a video camera to preserve a record of the position of objects inside the house.  An aspect of an incident witnessed by the team is similar to the occurrence in Centrahoma during production of a TV documentary when there was an equipment failure a moment before the anomalous movement of a rock striking a parked vehicle would've been recorded on video.  In the Gardener house, when a bronze statuette was found to have been inexplicably moved to a place on the carpet near the television set, the writer of the Fortean Times article recalled having remarked, "It must be on film."  However, Stephen informed him: "I was fiddling with the camera and unfortunately it was pointing towards the hallway at the time."
Skeptics scoff at moments like this, but I know too well that it was typical.  The fact that the statuette appeared the instant the camera was turned away was not surprising, but extremely frustrating.
 
I picked up the small bronze figure.  It depicted a robed woman with her left arm raised, the other holding a sword.  'Themis' was inscribed on the base.  She was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, wife of Zeus, and goddess of law and justice.  The raised left arm should have held a pair of scales, but they were missing.
Team members also reported hearing anomalous voices.
 

Stephen was convinced he had heard Alicia speak his name just behind him, but she had not moved from the front bedroom.  Exactly one hour later, Carole, in the hallway, heard a man's voice over her right shoulder.  "It sounded as if it was coming over a police radio, so I couldn't make out what he was saying."
  
At 3am, Stephen went into the back bedroom to talk to Carole and the psychic, Valerie.  When Stephen and Carole heard a wheezing from the top of the bed, Valerie heard nothing.  This incident reminded me of when I was in Centrahoma.  While Twyla was accompanying me on a drive throughout the area, I heard successive voices — a boy's giggle and later a deep masculine groan; the following day following graveside services for the late Jearld Carlton Bell, family members suddenly reacted excitedly and explained that they heard 'Michael' say he was sorry about Carlton.
  
That night in Rochdale, other occurrences associated with hauntings that team members described having experienced include an unattributed "fragrance of hyacinths" in the hall and later there four of the team members felt a "fine rain" on their exposed hands and faces.  
  
At one point "Stephen arched his back, complaining that something had 'flicked' him.  He had a red blotch just above the waist line which faded after ten minutes."  Peter Hough wrote about Valerie's psychic impressions —
 
During the night Valerie Field reported a number of impressions and images which entered her mind.  Some of them turned out to be remarkably accurate.  She reported in detail a violent incident which had befallen Jeanette and a number of emotional 'pressure points' in the family.  When Vera and Jim reappeared at 8am the next morning, they verified Valerie's impressions.
 
The Fortean Times article begins with the mention of an unnamed psychic who described "getting an impression of a box, a small box, buried in the garden, behind the shed."  Peter and other NARO team members went digging for it but no box was unearthed.
Peter commented: "Perhaps we should have dug deeper."  Even this is reminiscent of incidents in the 19th Century Bell Witch case as well as the contemporary Centrahoma case involving unsuccessful digging for treasure (as mentioned in a previous article) — Bill Mc Wethy commented, "He ['Michael'] pulled the same trick here . . . There've been various places out in the yard over here."  Maxine quoted the disembodied voice: "YOU HAVE TO DIG."  Upon transcribing the interview tape, an EVP phrase was heard following Maxine's comment: "BUT NOT FOR MONEY."

The Reverend Michael Smith had been called to bless the house but to no good effect.  He told us that he too had seen water dripping from the ceiling.  In his view the phenomenon was due to poltergeist activity.
   
A graph is included in Peter Hough's article that indicates the anomalous nature of a sample of the dripping water taken from the house in comparison to tap water.  The "conductivity" (units: USCM) of the dripping water sample is listed as 1323 while the tap water sample's conductivity is 181.   
The Rochdale Poltergeist Podcast: A True Story with Steve Mera
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