It’s time to find out about the Swindon Old Town ghosts and so, I’d like to introduce you to Siân. She is a Weird Wiltshire reader and she saw my request for reader’s ghost stories on one of my blogs. And YOU! Yes, You! If you have a story yourself, please get in touch. I’d love to hear it!
As it happens, Siân has quite a few stories so she is going to popping up here a few times over the next couple of months. Here’s her first one about her time working on Newport Street and the Swindon Old Town Ghosts she heard about.
Tricky Working Conditions at Copyplan
“In 1982/3, I was employed at Copyplan in Newport Street, Old Town Swindon.
The building was later converted into residential flats: Emporium Court, as seen in the photo. Copyplan’s door was the one on the left.
There were three floors. Copyplan’s bottom floor was used only for storage, with the offices upstairs with a corridor at the back. The ground floor contained a small kitchen, a ladies’ toilet next to it, and the gent’s toilets further down the hall. The next-door firm could access the corridor, which had something to do with the Welsh SC4 TV. Their door was at the far end.
Copyplan was new and had only opened the previous year. My mother was one of their first employees and all the staff worked overtime and weekends to establish themselves.
The two directors and another man were on the first floor one night relatively late when they heard footsteps run up the stairs and the door to their room crashed open. No one was there. They hadn’t locked the front door, so they thought it might be an intruder from the street. They checked everywhere and found no one. After that, they locked the front door if they were working late at night, but a few more times, the steps would be heard and a door on the first floor would violently open.
One of the directors was leaving for the evening and was the last person there. He was using the ladies’ toilet as it had a mirror and he was straightening his tie when he saw a dark-haired woman instead of his own reflection. He said he was wearing something like a cameo on a ribbon around her throat and never wavered from this, even years after.
I was washing up in the kitchen one morning before making coffee when I heard steps coming along the tiled corridor. The steps sounded like women’s heels on the tiled floor rather than men’s shoes. I thought the secretary from next door’s firm was coming to use the ladies’ toilet.
The steps stopped all at once and though I didn’t hear the toilet door close, I was thinking of various things and didn’t take much notice until a few minutes later when I decided to use the toilet myself before taking the coffee up.
No one was in the toilets and I was a little puzzled but didn’t think much of it. Perhaps she had turned around and gone back to her office.
One could step back from the kitchen sink and look straight down the corridor (about 12-odd paces, I suppose) and no one was around. I turned around to pick up the tray and heard the footsteps begin again right at the kitchen door. They walked behind me and through the wall. The hair on the back of my neck literally stood up. One hears of that happening, but it was the first time I had experienced it.
When I got back upstairs (at record speed, holding a tray of coffee!) and said I’d heard footsteps, the director said to me. ‘Oh, that’s just the ghost.’ And laughed.
There are other stories along much the same lines: Steps, the doors opening when there was no reason for them to. Some were heavy spring-hinged doors.
It seems this isn’t the only building on the road with a strange story. The pub owner just along the road, then called The Old Town Tavern, now the Steam Railway, also related an odd incident.
Screenshot of the Steam Railway, home to one of the Swindon Old Town ghosts, as it is now. The courtyard was behind the doors.
The pub used to be an old coaching inn and, at the time, had a courtyard with a covered well. The landlord explained they were having some work done in the courtyard which involved uncovering the well. Water was in it, but far down and it didn’t flood. It was pretty much forgotten about.
During the three nights it was uncovered, the landlord, a very big Londoner and a real personality heard his Alsatian dog, who slept in the bar, barking. He came down and found a water trail and thought the dog had done his business in the bar, which didn’t please him. Grumbling and cursing, he said he mopped and cleaned, but then it happened the next night.
In the morning, he saw that the water trail went under the bar door and across the courtyard to the well. And it happened a third night until the well was again covered over. The water was so far down that he couldn’t see it, nor could the builders working there. No one knows how it rose so far as to flood into his bar. And the water ran in a swathe to the bar door. Nowhere else.
Of course, he’d also checked for leaks in the bar, but there was nothing, and the water trailing issue stopped as soon as the well was again covered.
He said it looked like something had climbed out of the well, dripping wet and come into his bar. Chilling!
There were always a few local workmen at weekday lunchtime in the pub and when the landlord talked about this, they started laughing and ribbing him, saying his watery visitor only wanted a pint, or ‘Who’d you chuck down the well, then? Didn’t they pay?’
There was also talk from some of the men at Gilberts, the furniture company, that they, too, had heard strange things when working. More Swindon Old Town Ghosts maybe? Newport Street is old and was on the coach road from London.
We didn’t know what might have been built where Copyplan and Gilberts were, though old black-and-white pictures show cottages along Newport Street.
I quite often worked overtime on Saturdays, alone in the darkroom where there was a big 35 mm flatbed camera for converting schematic documents to microfilm. I absolutely hated it and would take a radio in and turn up the volume so as not to hear any sounds and be frightened. What you don’t hear, you don’t worry about!
Leaving the building and locking up, I could not run fast enough and felt someone was there on the stairs. Nothing malevolent, but watchful, most definitely. It was interesting and entertaining to talk about the ‘ghost’ over coffee or on a Friday lunchtime in the pub, but no one was keen to work there alone. We did, of course, but we didn’t relish it.
The SC4 company next door had a cellar where they used to store camera equipment, quite expensive gear. The director was there alone one day and heard the most incredible crashing from down in the cellar as if all the equipment had fallen and smashed. He was horrified at the thought and rushed down, but nothing had been disturbed. The sound didn’t come from our company next door or from the little newsagent next to his company.
I have sometimes wondered, passing down Newport Street, if residents in the flats, as they are now, have ever heard or seen anything, or indeed the pub since its conversion. “
Siân was born in rural Oxfordshire but now lives in Swindon with her partner and is self-employed.
Her grandmother, ‘a wonderful orator,’ used to relate ghost stories to her and Siân developed an interest in the paranormal from a young age. She is open-minded but not credulous and is more interested in reading or hearing local accounts and stories rather than the famous hauntings that appear in most books and tv series dealing with this subject.
Have you got a story to share?
My favourite thing is to uncover new and untold ghost stories and interesting bits of history. If you have any stories you would like to share, I’d love to speak to you. Get in touch here.
Stay spooky my friends!