The Tale of the Never Seen Ghost

george and lady doughty ghost.jpgImagine you are a child of seven, newly moved from the cosiness and comfort and gentleness of an infant class, looking with some foreboding at a vastly different school world.

Then picture your feelings when boys already in the junior school tell you all about the spectre which stalks a certain stairway leading to a fabled playground on the roof. How would you feel? Certainly not deliriously happy.

And that was the position in which I found myself in the year 1927 when I moved from the motherly care of a lady whom I considered my beautiful friend - she was a certain Miss Cressey.

After many years have elapsed, I still recall the shiver that rippled down my back at the mention of the ghost: after all, when you are seven years old, fairy tales don't include ghosts and nasty things. So suddenly, Strand Junior Boys School quite quickly became less than ideal for me.

Yes the all knowing boys spun such weird tales about the ghosts of a certain titled lady who kept returning to the school to walk up and down the staircase leading to the roof. At the bottom of the staircase was, and still is, a brass plate recording the official opening of the school on January 12th 1912, and for some odd, unexplained reason that staircase was never used during my stay at Strand.

Really, it all dates back to Friday 11th January 1912 when a mid much pomp and circumstance, Lady Doughty, wife of Sir George, declared Strand Infant and Junior School well and truly open. She it was, rumour had it, who perambulated about Strand in all her finery, but no one knew whether or not she ever spoke at all.

Now many years later, I was invited to the school to talk to the children about what life was like when I was a child there. The children were divided into two sections, one for a morning session and the second in the afternoon. (Oh yes, I had a school dinner among the boys and girls, and was most impressed by their good manners both in class and in the dining room.)

However, to get back to the reminiscences, following my talk, questions were invited and many hands shot up. What do you think was the subject of those questions? Yes, Lady Doughty's ghost and the mysterious staircase.

After all those intervening years, a local legend was still firmly rooted in the minds of a generation far removed from the period when it was first spoken about, but no one knows just how and why the spectral apparition has been talked about during the school's life since 1912 to present.

Written by Mr George Black

Ex Pupil and friend of Strand Primary Academy