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The Royal Engineers Museum - Gillingham

16th January 2010
 

 

 

 

Built on an area of ground kept clear for manoeuvres and siege operations from the Great Lines, The Ravelin building was constructed in 1904 and became the Electrical School for the Royal Engineers who had their barracks on the opposite side of the defensive ditch. It originally consisted of a quadrangle of offices and classrooms around a central courtyard.

In 1986 the building was converted, and the courtyard roofed in, to house the regiments museum collection of exhibits and now houses unique and priceless items of military history including guns and swords used at Rorke's Drift, a map used at Waterloo and the only surviving example of the Brennan Torpedo, a Victorian precursor to the modern equivalent. It contains further exhibits belonging to the regiments most famous leaders including General Gordon of Khartoum and Field Marshall Kitchener.

It also hires out part of the building for functions and holds school tours and workshops and takes exhibits out for school talks.

All photographs taken by Ghost Connections and used with kind permission of the RE Museum as photography is not permitted for public release.

Please visit their website

  The Investigation
  Aim:
To investigate claims of and record evidence of paranormal phenomena at this location.

Background:

Due to the retained offices on the first floor balconies being still occupied by the regiment we were not allowed access to these reputedly haunted areas although we had plenty occupy ourselves with on the ground floor.

An interpretation display housing a Morse code machine audibly linked to a speaker to give the full effect has been known to function 'on its own' when a tour party was nowhere near it and all persons accounted for.

A gentleman in a beige suit has been seen in the same area in an unconnected incident.

In an area devoted to the second world war, and bomb disposal, shadows have been seen to move reflected in the display cases glass accompanied by substantially colder temperatures than the surrounding area's.

What is now the Field Marshall's Room and the museums function room used to be two smaller rooms and whilst walking from an adjacent room one night Jeremy, education officer and our host, was met by dancing lights in front of his face for no apparent reason.

These were our three areas for the night although would, as normal be liable to change dependant on circumstances.

Apparatus:

Camcorders:

Samsung VP-D351 with night vision
Sony DCR HC-62E with night vision and Sony HVL-IRM IR light
Sony DCR-HC19 with night vision and Sony HVL- IRM IR light
Sony DCR-DVD110E with night vision and Sony HVL- IRM IR light

Digital Camera:
Canon 1000D
Fuji Fine Pix S5000
Fuji Fine Pix S5500
Pentax K-100D Digital SLR
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ-38

Voice recorder:
Olympus VN-2100PC
Olympus DM20
HNSAT DVR958

Other:
Tripods
Torches
Video tapes (MiniDV)
DVD-RW's


Investigators:
Ian, Kim, Paddy, and Dave.

Guest:
Jeremy


Method:
Using visual and scientific methods combined with spiritual theory investigate the background to alleged paranormal phenomena at this venue. We planned to investigate the three previously described areas in the order they are described above and this also being the layout of the museum. We then intended to spend some time in the main hall (roofed courtyard) although this would turn out to be difficult due to the rain that occurred during that hour and the noise it made in this area.

Investigation:
We arrived and conducted and initial walk round to check the premise was secured and able to be investigated as planned. There was no wind or rain at the commencement of the investigation. As all windows on the ground floor through the displays are obscured and the route of the display takes the visitor on a route best utilising the space available bearings are sometimes lost around the route. Large fans hang from some areas, more of which later, but their sound does not seem to disperse far into the building. In fact there seemed to be little other noise than these fans which unfortunately could not be turned off as they maintain the constant temperature inside. It is also worthy of note at this point that whilst there are spotlights through the building these are fitted with special bulbs that maintain a lower temperature for the benefit of the exhibits which means they take far less time to cool and are less prone to making noises whilst cooling like others.

Session one
The Morse code machine sits in one quadrant of a circular display in the centre of other cases near to the Victorian history collection and exhibits from the various African Wars. It is connected to an amplifier and when power is applied and the arm depressed it sounds throughout this area of the building. All available lighting was turned off although minimal light was still present from nearby Fire Exit signs. A fixed camera would remain on the Morse code machine for the rest of the night in order to capture anything occurring in the event of it sounding. The team all began the session seated although due to the events both Kim and Paddy would move away from the rest to cover a greater distance.

Morse Code Machine


Session two
Due to the events in neighbouring areas on session one the team decided to split for this session. Kim and Ian would take the original neighbouring area in the WWI display and Paddy and Dave with Jeremy would take the WWII bomb disposal area. The events were recorded on audio and video and observations made of the WWII area in particular due to the original reports. Paddy, Dave and Jeremy would soon move to the previous area containing the Bailey Bridge display and vehicles.

Session three
With the team back together everyone sat in various locations within the Field Marshall's Room and events were recorded on video and audio.

Session four
The original plan of using the central courtyard was not possible due to the excessive noise caused by the rain outside and the (now) internal guttering pipes. The team re-located to the Bailey Bridge display and repeated that part of session two although Kim, Ian and Dave experimented with a séance whilst Paddy and Jeremy remained available to respond to events.


Results
Note that as our guest Jeremy is included in the generic term 'team' for the purposes of this report unless referred to by name where something is specifically recounted by him.

Session one

Very quickly after settling to take in the noises of the building the sound of voices was heard. These lasted a few seconds and seemed to walk past the team and be maybe one or two males and one female.

A metallic type noise akin to a light cooling was heard immediately above the team in the area of spotlights.

A tap was then heard in the area.

After a longer interval a tap was heard near to Dave.

After asking for a repeat a further louder tap of a similar kind was heard in the same area. This was immediately to Dave's right where there was a display unit with a sign board mounted in a frame. It was not in touching distance of Dave or anyone or anything else.

Whilst Dave was talking a further knock was heard by the rest of the team.
A further tap was heard by team whilst Dave was talking.

Within a minute a further tap was heard.

Dave then saw a bright small light in the area of the nearest quadrant of the display.

Another tap was heard further away from the team and this was the point where Paddy decided to investigate the cause of this and based himself primarily towards the beginning of the exhibits.

A dull thud was heard in the area of the team.

Further noises then occurred near to Paddy some of which were not heard by the rest of the team.

There was then a louder bang near Paddy which was heard by everyone else.

Another noise was heard similar to the light at the beginning of the session.

Kim's back began to feel cold.

There was then a louder more forceful bang on the wooden display surround several feet about Jeremy's head.

Kim saw a shadow movement in the area nearest her.

A further noise was heard towards Paddy.

Dave's gaze was then towards Ian and the cabinet behind him showed a reflection of a solid object. Above this object Dave saw a head and shoulders which then moved out of view as though it were behind the display.

As Dave then ran through possible connections there was a bang on the glass of a nearby display.

There was then a further noise near Paddy on a display as Dave continued.

When a repeat was requested a louder knock was forthcoming.

Session two

Dave, Paddy and Jeremy.

The team made a careful study of the cabinet windows in this area with Dave's lit figure being seen in both windows at once.

As soon as the study was concluded Paddy walked further into an area of models and sat down. A few seconds later there was a loud tap on a wooden step against one of the displays.

Another intermittent noise was heard out in the Bailey Bridge display followed by a louder single noise.

They then relocated to this area.

It was thought that a male voice was heard in the area.

Dave then sat on a chair facing the vehicle display whilst Paddy sat one one side of the steps and Jeremy sat on the display base on the other side.

A loud bang was heard near to Jeremy which he stated he felt through the display he was sitting on. On request a second occurred exactly the same. They were heard by Dave and Paddy.

This session then concluded.

Ian and Kim

Kim heard a noise likened to the sound of movement in a crinoline dress.

Kim and Ian then heard a sound similar to the Morse code machine in the neighbouring area being depressed but without the electronic version of the noise.

A loud bang was heard in the area of a nearby First World War memorial.

Kim heard the sound of someone clearing their throat.

Session three

The team seated themselves in various locations around the room.

Some faint taps were heard in the area of a window near Paddy.

A louder knock was heard in the area of the doorway highlighted in the introduction.

Dave saw a slow moving light in the area of a display on the far side of the room.

A noise was then heard in the area of a neighbouring cabinet.

Noises then ceased and the session was concluded.


Session four

The team then went back to the Bailey Bridge display and attempted to see what may occur if they did a séance. Paddy and Jeremy observed and were prepared to move to investigate whatever occurred.

Nothing occurred of note and the session and investigation was concluded.


Conclusions

Session one

The area of the display we were seated around is adjacent to the outside wall of the building and there are sealed and covered windows hidden behind the display. Whilst we had ensured that there were no other persons within the building or likely to gain entry via the public gates to the grounds we believe that these voices were likely to have been outside and patrolling guards from the barracks. We believe this is also likely for those that were heard later in the same session.

All lights had been on for our tour around initially and then extinguished in turn. Those in this area consisted of those within the displays and also those consisting of spotlights on a horizontal rail suspended from the ceiling. Whilst the bulbs are of a low temperature type specifically used so as not to harm the displays, it is thought that as these had only just been extinguished they may have been cooling and the noise at this point was cooling of the metal causing contraction.

The initial tap sound could not be placed with accuracy and therefore no explanation can be attempted.

The tap sound near Dave was more easily locatable. Dave was sitting approximately 10cm from the end of a display unit. The unit contained a display of exhibits on each side behind glass and was solidly built. The projecting end of the unit nearest Dave had a rectangular framework of wood with curved retention mouldings for a printed information board. This information board was made of laminated chipboard and bowed in in the centre in the retainers. It was examined following the almost immediate louder tap that was produced upon request. It was found that with a certain pressure approximately 1/3 down the board it flexed and then caused a noise as it settled back into its recesses in the frame. This could only be produced by touch and was only touched by the team during the examination. It is considered that it is this board that made the two noises heard by the application of an increase in force from one noise to the next. The origin of the application of the force to move the board is unknown and cannot be identified. We cannot explain how the sound was produced. Both sounds were recorded on audio and video.

Further taps during this session had no identified source or location although their rough location could be identified. They seemed to emanate from different areas entirely and therefore this further frustrated any proper analysis.

The small light that Dave saw was neither recorded on footage or identified. The area where he states he saw it may just have been out of the coverage of the camera or it may have not existed at all. What we can say is that there were no sources of light at that time other than the fire exit lamps out of view of this area. The glass of the displays would not have reflected a small point of light from such a large source of dim light. If Dave did really see it we cannot explain its origin.

Despite Paddy's relocation to seek out the source of the other noises they remained unidentified as the area contains numerous displays and is open to the rest of the museum over the top of the displays. Sound echoes around unhindered and is difficult to locate unless you are so close to the source.

The dull thud near the team was believed, by Jeremy, to come from the glass of a display housing plan drawings including those of the museum. This immediately came after the questions posed by Dave in relation to any other persons link to the museum or exhibits. This may be coincidental or was someone else with us indicating to the museum drawings and the thud noise had more significance than we will ever know?

The louder noise near to Paddy was certainly more pronounced than the earlier ones and it was believed to have come from a display area further towards the entrance. Unfortunately Paddy was not so close to it to have been able to confirm this and no conclusions can be drawn.

When another noise similar to the initial light cooling noise but 40 minutes later we the began to consider the cause of this. The lights are low temperature bulbs and had not made any noise since the supposed one so much earlier. What would cause the second one so late? There was certainly no way we could reach it and the only possibilities are that it was a much later cooling of the metal which is unlikely or an insect flying into the bulb or metal shroud.

When considered with the surrounding layout of the building it is believed that the cold temperature felt on Kim's back is due to the lower temperature a round a sealed window which she had her back to.

The noise on the top of the display above Jeremy's head was far to high to reach, wooden in tone matching the display construction and nothing else was capable of touching it. It was recorded on all footage and it can be seen that nothing is in the area we maintain it came from. We cannot explain this.

The shadow that Kim saw just out into the display area is difficult to explain. Kim saw a movement and there were no draughts or movable objects in that area to cause such an illusion. The lighting was low and may have assisted an optical illusion but in the light of events to follow was this likely?

A few moments later Dave was looking towards Ian and had full view of the cabinet next to him. Being at an angle and instantly saw the head and shoulders of a figure above a solid object. After some effort this was reconstructed by Jeremy playing the part of the figure moving until he caused the same effect. This resulted in him standing near to the doorway where Kim was. Either Dave completely imagined what he saw or it was really there. It was not a mistaken identification as it had gone by the time anyone else looked at the same reflection. The footage from this incident and including the reconstruction shows that are was in view of the camera throughout the same time that Dave states he saw the figure. Ignoring the fact he imagined it this leaves us with the possibility that a human shadow was caused by something that was not visible to the human eye or camcorder with infra-red. It is further interesting to compare this with Kim's sighting only moments earlier. Kim had not announced her sighting and merely recorded it in her note book so Dave would not have been affected by auto suggestion. This is further coincidental as, when Jeremy located the spot that a figure would need to have been at, he confirmed this is the exact spot that the gentleman in the beige suit has been seen.

The bang on a nearby display was not accurately located but came close to the end of the recreation of the above incident. As it could not be accurately located or accounted for it remains unknown.

With a further noise being repeated we had certainly had in interesting first session and took the opportunity to have a break and discuss what had occurred. It was only then that each one of the team would know exactly and fully what had occurred according to each other.

Session two

Dave, Paddy and Jeremy.

The cabinet windows in this area meet at an obtuse angle and when the lights are out there is the solitary light of a fire exit sign above the fire escape next to it. A study revealed that it was possible to be stood in one location illuminated by the light cast from the fire exit sign and the illumination of the subjects profile to seen in both canted windows of the display but each showing a different image which, when the subject moves, appears to move differently in each window. This is purely a demonstration of the laws of optics when viewing onto a sheet of glass which has no light behind and therefore acts as a mirror. The presence of two angled panes of glass at this location presents the two images as stated. An diagram of this, not to scale, appears below.

The nearness of the fire exit external door would also account for the lower temperatures sometimes experienced in this location. Although it must be said that this was not apparent on this night.

 

The area of the tap near to Paddy was examined. It consists of a wooden step structure built to allow children to view the model diorama situated here. It has a mock bomb next to it. There is nothing in the area touching this step. The sound was believed to have come from here due to the noise made when we banged on various objects in this area. Paddy was not near it at the time and Jeremy and Dave were further away. It was recorded on the footage and heard by all at the time. We can offer no explanation for this.

The intermittent noise in the adjoining room became apparent when Jeremy, Paddy and Dave relocated. Mounted high on two of the walls are large blowers linked to the ducted heating system. Due to the size of this area these are constantly on to keep the large area at the set temperature. One of these seemed to fluctuate and a mechanical sound emanated from it at intervals.

The louder noise was explored by Paddy with Jeremy and Dave remaining where they were to identify the sound if it re-occurred. As Paddy walked along a metal raised walkway behind a displayed truck several different noises were caused by his walking. One of these noises was confirmed to be the one that Jeremy and Dave originally heard. Having identified that it was a sound caused by someone walking on a metal raised walkway we cannot account for how it actually occurred but moved to the area of the walkway in case a repeat occurred. It did not.

All three in this team believed they heard a male voice in this area. It was indistinct and no words were actually heard. Being, again, on the outside of the building this may have been a patrol outside.

Having then sat down there was a loud tap on the raised display on which Jeremy was seated. It appeared to come from his right and was heard by Paddy and Dave. Jeremy's account is that he also felt the impact caused through the vibration of the surface. When a repeat was requested another was heard to Jeremy's left. Again he felt the impact. The area was fully visible and there was nothing else there to cause the noise heard. We cannot explain the cause of it. It happened at no other times so we are also unable to account for the timing of it or the repeat. Unfortunately due to the noise of the blowers these noises were not audible on the footage recorded.

This session then concluded.

Ian and Kim

With neither Kim nor Ian moving it is unknown what caused the sound likened to the sound of a crinoline dress moving. There are no exhibits in this area to cause a sound similar to this and it is accurately described.

The account of the staff in regard to the Morse Code machine has already been related within this report. The fact that Kim and Ian heard it tap may back up this claim. What is confusing, though, is that it was still connected to the speaker that should have amplified the sound but this was not what was heard. We cannot explain this anomaly. No persons were in the area at the time or could have been without being noticed. Unfortunately a recording does not exist.

The nearby First World War memorial was just out of sight and this is an approximate location for the noise heard. There are no exhibits here likely to make a noise on their own although any cause cannot be speculated on due to not knowing exactly where it came from.

The sound of someone clearing their throat is fairly unique but could have other causes. None of the rest of team were responsible and nothing else was found that may have caused it. This does not preclude the fact that it may have been another source.

Session three



The faint noises around Paddy could have been rain on the window or dripping water as it had started to rain at the time. Any of these noises occurring are inconclusive.

The louder knock in the area of the doorway is of interest being in the same area as the events witnessed by Jeremy on a previous occasion. It was not repeated though and no conclusions can be drawn from its occurrence. It did only occur once and therefore we have negated the weather conditions outside. It was also distinctively within the room.

The slow moving light in the area of a display on the far side of the room seen by Dave could not be found to have been caused by any source within the room. Study of the footage reveals that none of the camcorders were, at that time pointed in that direction or reflecting towards the glass cabinet. The windows within this room have internal shutters fitted so there were no light sources from outside that could have caused what was seen.

The neighbouring noise was not located although its believed to have come from the neighbouring cabinet to where the light was seen. The occurrence after the light may or may not be relevant but would only be speculation. Neither were recorded on footage.

Session four

The return to the Bailey Bridge display produced nothing of not and therefore no conclusions can be drawn from this session.

During our stay a certain amount of other information was forthcoming to the team of a clairvoyant nature. As Ghost Connections conducts scientifically based investigations we do not publish such observations, however, this information is held on a separate database and may prove interesting when compared to other peoples experiences. Should you wish to discuss this information please email us.

Very few of the audible noises were found to be recorded but those that were confirm that they were not imagined by the team. Camcorder footage, still photographs and voice recorders were later examined and nothing further of note was found other than what can be seen on the associated investigation videos.

We believe we have been able to explain the report of figures near the bomb disposal WWII display and the temperature differential in this area. We have not been able to logically explain the other phenomena reported to us and indeed experience similar occurrences ourselves.

We have found the museum to be of great interest and worthy of investigation.

 

Thanks
Many thanks as always to the custodians of this venue and Jeremy Kimmel, for allowing us to investigate the Royal Engineers Museum.
   
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