The Rochdale Poltergeist

The year is 1995 and while the rest of the United Kingdom are basking in a scorching heatwave, one family in a town called Rochdale are suffering at the hands of poltergeist activity. The story had caught the attention of the Manchester Evening News (see newspaper clipping below) when they ran a story called “Spooky spills scare family from home” which in turn caught the attention of the Manchester Association of Paranormal Investigation & Training (MAPIT) and in particular their chairman Steve Mera. The following events resulted in the book “The Rochdale Poltergeist – A True Story” being released.

Manchester Evening News article Photo Credit - Steve Mera | MAPIT

The family (Jim and Vera Gardner along with daughter Jeanette) claimed that they were being driven from their home by sudden occurrences of water pouring down on them from the ceiling which had made their lives a living nightmare for almost a year. Ceilings in their prefabricated bungalow would suddenly pour with water – soaking their beds, carpets, floors, and furniture yet despite several inspections that were made by Tradesmen and Housing Officers, the cause of the water remained a mystery.

Enter Steve Mera. Steve was wary of the fact the property is Council owned and is has been known for some Council House residents to complain about Paranormal activities in the house in the hope of a quick move to a more desired location but he was still intrigued enough to make contact with Rochdale Council who told him they suspected Jim & Vera had made the story up to get a better home than the one they were currently living in.

Two days after speaking with Rochdale Council, Steve received a call from them asking if he would attend a meeting at the Council Offices to discuss the events reported at the property on Foxholes Close. At the meeting, the council enlisted the services of Steve and MAPIT to investigate the occurrences that Jim & Vera had reported.

During the initial meeting with Jim & Vera at the house on Foxholes Close, Steve and his team heard their stories of water flowing across the ceiling as if defying gravity then suddenly falling on them like a rain shower. They also heard stories of auditory happenings like footsteps, scratching on the walls, knocking, and even verbally speaking. Vera believed it was the ghost of her first husband who died suddenly at their house ten years prior. She thought he wasn’t happy she re-married and this was his way of showing his disapproval. What they couldn’t understand though was she had been remarried at this point for two years and the strange occurrences started only ten months ago. If this was the ghost of her first husband then why had he left his disapproval for so long?

Although nothing paranormal happened during the initial visit to the property Steve thought that their daughter Jeanette was the conductor of the paranormal activity due to her mental disability (Vera had confirmed to Jim that although Jeanette was in her 30’s, she had a mental age of a young child). Along with everything Jim & Vera had told him, Steve concluded he had heard enough happenings to warrant a full paranormal investigation and arranged to re-visit the property with full equipment a couple of weeks later. In total the team visited the property three times (including the initial meeting).

During the second visit to the property, Steve asked if he could look in the loft to check for signs of an obvious water leak which would help explain the water pouring from the ceiling. Up in the loft, he could see no signs of a leak and a peel-back of the loft insulation showed there had never been any water damage to the ceiling at all. Back down out of the loft Jim was telling Steve about occurrences that happened in the two weeks was just more of the same as previously reported when Jeanette came running into the lounge shouting “It’s happening again!” and that was when Steve and the team witnessed first-hand water spreading across the ceiling, defying gravity. It did this for about five minutes and then soaked back up into the ceiling again but not before Steve captured some of the water into a sample bottle for testing. Moments later the ceiling was dry to touch, one of the other team members, Peter Hough went into the loft to check for water up there and the plasterboard was bone dry just as it was the first time Steve checked it.

Now Steve had caught a sample of the water he needed to get a reference sample from one of the usual water supplies in the house so he took another sample from the tap in the bathroom sink. Both of these went off for analysis at North West Water.

Meeting back up in the living room Steve was keen to arrange another investigation this time without the family being there so they could prove there was no fakery by anyone in the house. Just as Vera was explaining the family could stay at her sisters’ house during the investigation, Jim shouts out from the kitchen “Here we go again!”, all rushed into the kitchen and they saw Jim stood underneath an umbrella whilst it was raining in the kitchen.

The day came for the third and final investigation where the team had the property to themselves for the day and night and this time the paranormal activity got even more active. The team had set up a 360° camera in the living room and had done a full 360° recording of the room to act as a reference point in case anything moved out of place they could use that reference to see where it had been moved from and during this investigation they witnessed a statue turning up in the middle of the living room floor which hadn’t been there previously. They checked the camera to see where it had come from and they couldn’t find it anywhere on the original footage so the team made a note to check with Jim and Vera when they returned the next day as to where the statue normally lived.

They also heard voices and raspy breathing coming out of an unplugged radio alarm clock, the voice was of that of a man and sounded like the old CB Radio’s that was used in taxes. Steve and two other members of the team were sat on the bed in the room where Vera’s husband had passed away when suddenly was Steve felt like he had been kicked in the back and was forced off the bed and onto the floor. Finally, they had witnessed one of the internal doors in the house being covered in water before it started to trickle onto the floor.

Photo of Steve’s back following being forced off the bed Photo Credit - Steve Mera | MAPIT

When the family returned the next day, the team recounted everything that had happened including the statue that had moved. Vera pointed to the shelf where it lived. Again the team checked the 360° camera footage but this time Jim and Vera saw the footage and the place where Vera had said it lived was empty. Where and when did the statue get moved from and to in the time from the Gardners leaving the house to it turning up in the middle of the living room floor, no one knows.

During the debriefing, Steve was asking Vera about her previous husband. She explained he was a taxi driver before he got ill and passed away. Steve asked how did he pass away and she explained he had died from a heart attack but he also had underlying health issues like Emphysema and explained he was always struggling to catch his breath.

Results from North West Water Photo Credit - Steve Mera | MAPIT

The water samples that Steve had captured had already been sent to the laboratory of North West Water for testing and the results proved the water on the ceiling to be something of the paranormal. Water is tested for the amounts of USCM’s. USCM is a measurement of the amount of electrical charge water picks up when ran through copper piping, the “normal” range is from 70 to 108. The sample from the bathroom tap measured 93 which proved this was just normal tap water, however, the sample taken from the ceiling measured 1323. The team at North West Water had never seen a reading like that before and had no explanation has to how or what could cause the reading to get that high. It did prove though that the water was not part of a leak in the house.

When Steve had presented his results to Rochdale Council they were shocked, the Council still thought the Gardners had made the stories up to get a different property but on the back of Steve’s recommendation, that’s exactly what happened anyway. The Gardners were relocated to a different property elsewhere. Steve recommended the house on Foxhills Close was left vacant with all electricity, gas and water turned off for a minimum of 9 months which would be enough time to drain the poltergeist of any energy obtained from people or mains power sources.

The Council left the property empty for longer than 9 months before moving anyone back into it and to this day there have been no other reported paranormal events happen in the house.

If you are interested in more in-depth details of the Rochdale Poltergeist then Steve’s book (Co-authored with Jenny Ashford) is available to buy “The Rochdale Poltergeist – A True Story