Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pub spooked by mysterious spectre

By John Orr

Spirits have always been available at the Story Bridge Hotel for a century, but one in particular is causing staff some concern – it’s a ghost that dwells on the top floor.

Staff report and management confirm that an apparition makes its presence felt late at night in the Martini Bar Function Room after patrons have left and staff are locking up. “I’ve seen it – an apparition in the mirror; a shadow that seems to sprint when you confront it,” duty manager Andrew Thornton said.
“It is inexplicable, you lock your doors, you leave the lights on – in the morning they’re unlocked and they’re out – yet no-one’s been there.”
Functions room staff and management confirmed his account. One who preferred to be only known as “Sue” has been at the Martini Room since its 1996 opening and she stated: “When the people go and you close, things happen without reasonable explanation. There is a presence, it’s definitely male, but its not threatening. Unlike some men, I’ve never felt it predatory … just lonely. There is just extraordinary sadness and its tangible I kid you not, ” she said.
“I spoke to a psychic and she thinks it’s friendly – more like the cartoon character, Casper The Friendly Ghost than the Phantom of the Opera or the X Files, or like horror films with things that go bump in the night.”
She speculated it was a man with issues of injustice to resolve and could not move on until done so. “He’s feeling awful about something wrong or unsaid.”
The Martini Room is in the oldest section of the hotel – recently voted Australia and Queensland’s best – and until five years ago was used for accommodation, offices and storage. Reports from staff that cannot been unexplained have been constant since then Mr Thornton conceded some staff refused to be alone in the Martini Room after dark. H
e also confirmed that another duty manager had left the hotel after an encounter with the ghost. On condition of anonymity that manager who works at another prominent inner-city hotel told The Independent: “I was happy at The Bridge but I will not visit up there alone. I felt no menace but there is no question it is frightening. It seems to seek out company after the crowds are gone. It wants to communicate but can’t but it likes to be around you.”
Another duty manager, Andy “Capper” Johnston has been investigating and researching records as to deaths in the area at the John Oxley Library to attempt to establish the identity of the spirit form. “As a long-term KPR [Kangaroo Point Resident] I have two theories. It’s the miner Patrick Mayne allegedly butchered – murdered – in the abattoir adjacent to the hotel in the mid 1800s or Edwin John Baldock who used to drink here and was decapitated by the Vampire Killers.”
Mr Johnston also noted Kangaroo Point was the oldest part of Brisbane and had seen indigenous wars, massacres, been a jazz favourite of American soldiers in World War II and the favourite drinking place of the Painters and Dockers until they were disbanded after the Costigan Royal Commission into organised crime .
SBH chief manager Andrew Ford said he was not concerned about the ghost: “I’ve been fully informed of the issue. I’ve been the boss of a number of old Brisbane hotels – the RE, The Regatta, the Breakfast Creek before the Bridge and I’ve never seen anything like this.
“I’m reassured that all staff who have experienced this tell me it is benign not malign. There is no safety issue here. It only manifests itself at closing time and at extra cost we roster on double staff to close that room down at night. It’s a mystery is all I can say.
“The presence seems to be localised only to this room after everything is quiet. However, I will consult with the proprietor Richard Deery about that on his imminent return from Europe.”

Writer’s disclosure: Blessed with healthy scepticism, I asked and was permitted to enter the top floor alone, late after all had left. All was empty, doors locked, lights on. The air-conditioned room suddenly became very warm and I was absolutely certain there was someone looking at me. I turned and looked across at the city and the lights went out in the room and then in the city across the river. A gaseous human thing I understand is called an ectoplasm appeared – and then vanished – and the lights came on. I now believe in the Ghost of the Story Bridge Hotel. And as a lapsed, nay collapsed Catholic I again believe in the Father, Son and The Holy Ghost. I had not been drinking that night, but after writing this story, I headed out for a very large whisky.

Top: The famous Story Bridge Hotel. Above: the stairwell to that apparently haunted room.