This is part 2 of our series of the ghostly tour of Dundee and the surrounding areas. Read part one here…
The thing about these ‘ghost’ sightings and all the reports of them, was that it got everyone in an excited state. There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment, and a ghost story was just what many needed for a bit of escapism from their day-to-day lives, and a bit of excitement too.
When people gathered to chase the ghosts, it was mainly young lads, either trying to show off or looking for a fight in general, especially as the crowds grew to as large as 1000 on some nights. Of course, something was going to kick off, whether the ghost showed up or not, as was reported on 16th January 1901 by the Evening Post.
“THE GHOST SCARE
SEQUEL IN DUNDEE POLICE COURT
NORTH END IN A FERMENT OF EXCITEMENT
The north end of the city appears to be in a perfect ferment of excitement as the result of persistent rumours regarding the appearance of a ghost in the locality. Large crowds congregate every night in the vicinity of Clepington Road, the supposed promenade of the ‘apparition’ and some stirring scenes have been witnessed within the past few days. There was a sequel in Dundee Police Court today when a young man, and apprentice plumber, living in Eliza Street, appeared at the bar of a charge of disorderliness. He pleaded not guilty. Constables William Whitefield and John Robertson in the course of evidence stated that yesterday evening the crowd in Clepington Road and Pitkerro Road was about 1000 strong. A large number of youths were armed with sticks and their pockets were filled with stones. They were hunting for the ghost and created a great disturbance. The palings were stripped of spars and considerable damage was caused to property. Many of the lads carried lamps and searched in dark corners. Accused’s gang was warned to desist by the officers and all, with the exception of the accused, went away quietly. The latter, however, appeared to be a ringleader and was impertinent to the constables. The prosecutor (to Const. Robertson) – what is this ghost story? Robertson – There has been something in the newspapers about a ghost, but I never saw it, and I’ve got no information about any person being scared. Accused made a statement in which he explained that he and his companions were walking along quietly when they saw the policemen. They did not recognise the officers in the darkness and one of the lads whose suspicions were aroused ejaculated ‘I wonder if this is the ghost’. ‘I will let you know if I’m the ghost or no,’ said one of the policemen and he rushed at them. They made off, but he (accused) stood and was seized violently by the officer Bailie Allan was surprised that a young man of accused’s intelligence should misconduct himself in that manner. He imposed a fine of 5s with the alternative of 24 hours imprisonment.”
Even without our sprightly spectre, things were always getting out of hand. The papers didn’t receive any more reports after that, our sprightly spectre vanishing into the ether never to be seen again…
…or so it would have seemed. Almost a year after it all first kicked off, the spook was back, and, as ever, the Evening Post was right on it.
“THE DUNDEE GHOST REAPPEARS IN WEST END
A RAILWAY MAN’S EXCITING ADVENTURE
After an absence of about 12 months, the Dundee ‘ghost’ has seen fit to resume his nocturnal perambulations and that he is still as bold and agile as of yore is testified to by a man who the other night happened to encounter him.
While a railway servant was on his way to begin work between 10 and 11pm, the other evening, he received a fright. He had just left Seafield Road and when in the vicinity of Nairn Place he heard some ‘uncanny’ and sepulchral-like sounds. On glancing behind, he caught sight of an extremely tall white figure staling on the other side of the road. On and on it came, neither looking to the right hand or the left. The railway man somehow or other became sensible of a queer sensation like cold water running down his back. Riveted to the spot, he stood watching the stalwart spectre as it glided swiftly in his direction.
When immediately opposite the railway man, the white figure stood perfectly still and for about a minute gazed with eyes of intense brilliancy on the tin box in which the railway man carried his supply of food for the night, but which he was now flourishing with bellicose purpose before the steady, instrous gaze of the 36-candle-power orbs possessed by the spectre.
Frightened it may be, by the abundant of provisions stowed within the tin box, the ‘ghost’ after emitting a long whiff of some phosphorous-looking smoke from a pair of dilated nostrils, jumped it is said about 5 feet in the air, and resumed his journey. The railway man waited until a respectable distance lay between him and the spectre then, plucking up the courage born of desperation he crossed the street and followed the white figure. It was now the turn of the ‘ghost’ to feel frightened, for the railway man had thoroughly recovered from the first effects of his fright and was determined if he got close quarters to leave his mark. The ‘ghost’ quickened his pace and the railway man gave chase at his best speed. On arriving at an imperfectly lighted part of the road, however, the ‘ghost’ vanished as mysteriously as he had appeared, and, although the railwayman made a thorough search of the locality, he was unable to discover the slightest trace of the spectre.
On reaching Magdalen Green, the railway man met a constable to whom he narrated his adventure, but so far no trace of the white-robed visitor has been obtained. On telling his mates at the depot of his encounter with the ‘ghost’ the railway man for a time received scant sympathy, some of them accounting for the appearance of the apparition by asserting that their fellow-worker had eaten too much cheese or other indigestible food prior to going to bed in the morning. The railway man however, on repeating his story, succeeded in convincing the most sceptical of his fellow workmates that he had met the ‘ghost’ with the result that a watch is being kept in the neighbourhood.”
The West End continued to be tormented by the fiend for weeks after that, culminating in what the Courier described in its headlines on Monday 9th December 1901 as a “sensational incident” in which a man met the spook face to face – twice!
“ROBBER OR GHOST?
SENSATIONAL INCIDENT IN DUNDEE
DESPERATE MIDNIGHT FIGHT
The Dundee police are at present on the lookout for an individual who has been masquerading as a ghost. The headquarters of this visitor are Magdalen Green district and there a commercial traveller has had an encounter with him – a fight in which there were hard blows on each side. Inquiries made go to show that in the district the appearance f the ghost has caused much alarm and many of the lady residents refuse to go out unattended after dark. One of the victims of this man’s designs is Mr Gilbert Scott, a commercial traveller, residing in Perth Road, who has twice encountered him within the past few weeks.
MEETS THE ‘GHOST’
The first occasion on which Mr Scott met this spook was almost 3 weeks ago on the evening of Tuesday 19th November whilst the 2nd time was no later than the evening of Thursday last. On the 1st mentioned date Mr Scott was walking along Magdalen Yard Rd on his way home, about 20 mins to 11 pm. He was alone and it was a dark and stormy night – in fact, no better time or place could have been chosen for an assault on an unprepared traveller. The locality is not well lighted and at that hour and on such a night, few pedestrians were on the street. All unconscious of what was in store for him, Mr Scott turned the corner at Magdalen Yard Rd which leads into Step Row and at that moment he was struck a terrible blow on the chest which knocked him off the pavement and sent him sprawling into a pool of water in the middle of the road. For a few seconds, Mr Scott was in such a condition of mind that he did not fully understand what had happened. He had been walking with his head bent to protect himself from the fierce wind and had not seen what had struck him.
AND FIGHTS HIM
In less time than it takes to tell he was on his feet again and his eyes caught sight of a figure standing on the pavement. By the fitful flare of a neighbouring lamp which threatened to become extinguished every moment by the fury of the gale, he was to his unbounded astonishment that the figure was clad in white. His experience of his strange assailant had been sufficient however to dispel the idea that he was in the presence of a supernatural being. The white robed man, as he really was, rushed upon him and seizing him by the throat, forced him back against the wall. Recovering from his surprise, Mr Scott gripped his antagonist with all the strength of this he was capable, and a fearful struggle began. His assailant kept a powerful grip of his victim’s throat, and Mr Scott almost lost consciousness. He tried to shout for assistance for by this time he noticed a tall man standing watching the occurrence a few yards off, but this latest arrival on the scene paid no heed to his cries.
Fighting with the energy of despair, Mr Scott made a supreme effort and getting one of his arms free, he dealt his assailant an effective blow on the jaw which forced him to lose his grip and sent him reeling to the ground. The ghost was on his feet again in an instant and attacked Mr Scott, who hit out vigorously.
THE SPOOK RUNS
He landed several strong blows on his opponent’s face, with the result that the man turned and, gathering up in his arms the white sheet in which he was clad, he ran swiftly along the pavement in Magdalen Yard Rd towards the centre of the city.
Mr Scott was in too exhausted a condition to follow, but on turning round, he saw the man who had witnessed the assault running along Step Row. Mr Scott made his way home without further interruption, and on his arrival there, his family were astonished at his appearance. His clothes were covered with mud and his face was a mass of dirt and blood. Mr Scott did not report the occurrence to the police, but along with several companions armed with heavy sticks, he visited Step Row every night for a week afterwards in the hope of meeting the man who had assaulted him. They were unsuccessful in their quest, however, for they met with no man clad in white.
Mr Scott described his assailant as a man about 5ft 6 inches in height, stoutly built with dark hair and a dark moustache. The white sheet was tied at the back of his neck and reached down to below the knees, and he wore a bonnet drawn down over his eyes. Mr Scott is of the opinion that he belongs to the class that loaf about the corners of the streets.
A SECOND MEETING
Although Mr Scott was not successful in meeting this ruffian when he was prepared for him and in the company of others, he met him at the same corner at Step Row last Thursday night. As on the former occasion, Mr Scott had been at the house of a friend in Magdalen Yard Rd and was returning home about 11 pm. He walked into the middle of the Road as he approached Step Row and it was fortunate for him that he did so, for the man in white was stationed there waiting for some unsuspecting traveller. As soon as he saw Mr Scott, however, he rushed past him and was lost in the darkness enshrouding Magdalen Green. Mr Scott ran up Step Row and summoned a constable but their efforts to discover the whereabouts of the ghost were fruitless. An inspector of police then arrived, and a careful inspection of the neighbourhood was made, but only with a like result.
The police are on the lookout and everything that can be done is being done to punish this unknown scoundrel. During the past few weeks, the inhabitants of Magdalen Yard Rd and Bellefield Avenue have been alarmed by the ringing of their doorbells in the small hours of the morning and in all likelihood, this is the work of the desperate character who parades the streets in an unearthly-looking garb apparently for the purpose of robbing and injuring lonely pedestrians.”
Once again, our mysterious devil vanished without a trace, with everyone breathing a sigh of relief that this was the last encounter with the touring ghost!
– DD Tours operates walking tours in Dundee city, covering dark local history such as wars, battles, murders, diseases, riots, disasters and executions. Walk with us for an unforgettable storytelling experience.