Sunlight House, a large office building reaped in history was the setting for a paranormal investigation. We had been contacted regarding several reported disturbances. By standard procedure we conducted interviews and found that there were five main witnesses.
Debbie who works at Sunlight House claims that she and her close working associates have witnessed physical interaction, ie, clothes being pulled slightly, on occasion. Also she claims to have witnessed cold air coming from a book case that has a hard backing on it. This was apparently investigated and no rational explanation could be found. Debbie also claims to have possibly witnessed an apparition in her work area, passing backwards and forwards behind a screen near the reception area of her office, and that whilst on the lavatory in the ladies toilets she looked down to see a pair of boots poking under the cubical wall, and that these boots slightly moved as if worn. She described the boots as probably men's. She checked the toilets and no one could be seen. On another occasion, Debbie was washing her hands in the ladies toilets when she saw a hand move on her left side. At first she thought this was just her imagination. She turned to see an apparition of an old man looking back at her. She described him with difficulty, she said “It was as if I was looking at a reflection in a well lit window“, ie, not very clearly defined. The apparition just faded away. Debbie has reported feeling uneasy sometimes as if the environment has changed in someway. Mr. Turner, another Sunlight House employee claims to have entered the the building on a late evening and whilst on the 8th floor the lights suddenly turned off leaving him in darkness. Then suddenly he heard a rasping male voice about three feet behind him which he described to make a grunting sound.
Mr. Turner ran in the darkness bumping into walls on his way. He got to the lifts and called them. It seemed to take ages to arrive. He quickly jumped into it and headed down. The lift shuck from side to side as it descended. Suddenly for no reason at all the lift stopped an opened on the 7th floor into yet again darkness. Mr. Turner hammered the button and the doors shut once again. It eventually reached the ground floor and the lift doors opened. He quickly vacated the building. Mr. Turner also claimed to have heard the lifts working on their own and hearing bangs and other strange noises.
Sally Burns is another witness to the strange activities at Sunlight House, she claims to have stayed the night with a friend (Linda) in the 13th floor flat of the Sunlight House. She was woken from sleep by a knocking sound on the front door as if someone was there. Sally new no one else was in the building who could be responsible. She remembered the atmosphere feeling very uneasy. Sally stayed put and did not dare to answer the door, she decided to ignore it as best she could and hope it would stop. Eventually Sally’s friend (Linda) also woke up and both stayed together whilst the knocking persisted. Eventually both Sally and Linda fell off back to sleep, therefore unable to give an exact time to how long the knocking persisted. They woke in the morning and everything seemed as it should.
Mr. Brian Mallen was a night security officer at the Sunlight House during time of alterations : March 1995 - November 1996. He and his working associate Fred Turner claimed to have witnessed paranormal activity throughout the building. The security officers made notes for each other which gave mention to several interesting incidents. These notes are as follows :
“Patrol of Cheshire contracts area. Power drill and hand tool equipment left out on the 8th floor. Tools also left out on the 5th floor. On the 4th floor, again, lights were left on. If any tools go missing, it’s down to Cheshire contracts management”.
“Drove the goods lift during the night for one DC. Tim and his boys moved a huge amount of rubbish from the executive suite down to the loading bay reading for swinging into a large skip. After 06.00 Hours, I have asked them to brush the area after they have finished”.
“Workmen didn't show last night, I called every quarter of an hour up to 10.00 Hours. No problem with the meeting, everyone left in time. The pedestrian door is O.K. What’s the situation regarding work from Friday and week-end ? Please leave your wage-slip and note-book for a salary update. Two large piles of carpet tiles as requested in John’s room”.
“Our ghost followed me down the stairs from floor 4 - 1 at about 03.15 Hours. This time he was not ‘solid’, just a shape and a hair-pricking sensation. I stopped on level 2 to try and talk to ‘him’. ‘Again he’ vanished and the hair-pricking sensation stopped”.
“Billy has been working in the reception. Tim said ‘they have only cut out one side of the reception area’ so that a pathway to the lifts and stairs can be maintained. Checked the contractors area’s, 8th, 5th, and 4th floors”.
“Steve, I feel like collecting all the tools left out and hiding them for a while. The 8th floor was the same as the previous night, with the same power drill and hand tools left out. Do you think someone is trying to tempt me ? ‘No Chance’! Also there was a 20 gallon electric kettle left on, steaming away on the 8th floor. (Mess room and kitchen)”.
“The Contractors, Tim and his boys have nearly finished in the executive suite. Most of the dross has been moved out of the back room. Contractors will not be working Thursday night, but may be working either Friday night, Saturday day time, or Sunday night”.
“Steve, could you please discuss with Keven and determine my shifts for the next five days / nights ? When are the contractors working and will Billy be working nights or weekends ? You gave me a program of nights up to 8th of May, does this still stand ?”
“It’s midnight, dark and eerie. Funny noises, doors creaking, vague footsteps in the corridor. It’s great is it not Shaun ? 03.20 Hours, I hear a ‘Bong Bong sound’ from a lift somewhere, who or what is using it ?”
“Billy; workmen didn’t turn up. Checked every quarter of an hour at the reception. No Show! The contractors, Tim and his boys didn’t turn up for work on the executive floor. The painters and decorators were working until approximately 23.15 Hours. The contractors plumbers worked on the 5th and 4th floors; offices until 21.30 Hours. I locked the offices and let the workmen out via the goods lift and loading bay. The engineers, changing the call button panel on every floor. Isolated the one set of the lifts until 23.10 Hours. Then the other lifts until 06.10 Hours. I let the engineers out of the car park at approximately 03.38 Hours for collection”.
“True story Steve!, I went in the gents to have a strip wash at approximately 01.30 Hours. I turned on the taps near the mirror and took my shirt off, when suddenly the end of each tap with the white filter and black washer dropped into the sink. Steve, you have to unscrew the tap ends a long way before they come off. It’s the spooks way of saying hello ‘Hi, I’m still here”.
“I didn’t ask it to scrub my back, I just grabbed my shirt and moved fast. Later I screwed the ends back on. Kevin from the contractors told me that I must take the sink base unit tonight as the others are being dumped tomorrow. I locked the offices and let the workmen out via the goods lift and loading bay. Engineers, changing the call button panel on every floor. Isolated one lot of the lifts again until 23.10 Hours. Then the other set until 06.10 Hours. I let the engineers out of the car park at approximately 03.38 Hours for collection”.
Brian claimed to have witnessed various apparitions of a man he described as having black curly hair, and wearing a tank top pull-over. The apparition was first sighted on the metal staircase, making his way to the 2nd floor.
This drew Brian’s attention, because at that time, the 2nd floor was unoccupied. Brian immediately pursued him expecting to catch up with him negotiating the two doors. You have to enter one of the doors by entering a code. Bob questioned whether he was seeing things as he had not heard the doors opening or closing. However, he carried onto the 2nd floor offices and followed the figure. When sighted, this figure either disappeared through a wall or vanished.
Throughout history the Deansgate area has been both a major trading area and an area of close community. Everybody knows about nearby Castlefield and it's Roman Settlement that highlights the point that the area is steeped in history. The research period of history dealt with here is the nineteen twenties , thirties, forties and fifties. Namely pre construction , construction (1932) and post construction. But just a quick reference to state that in the 1800's ,farm land and a market place may have been on the site. The oldest reference is from 1742 when the area was known as 'Cupids Alley'. The area surrounding what is now Sunlight House was given the title of 'The Manchester Village'. Beyond it's business facade the majority of the local populace were living in poverty. Because of the closeness of the Irwell and the Bridgewater canal , railway companies ,warehousing and carrying firms made the Deansgate locale a busy area. Also due to the fact that a lot of the wagons at the time were horse drawn there was an amount of blacksmiths and shoeing forges in the vicinity. The close community lived in awful conditions and it was not unknown for the area to be plagued with rats , mice and insects. Again this was probably due to the close proximity of the canal and the items stored in the local warehouses. Just to highlight the conditions of the area at the time I would like to add the following . Wood Street Mission (The Manchester and Salford Street Children's Mission) used to hand out clogs to local children and organise Christmas parties which also gave presents to the kids. They also used to get some stale loaves and cakes from the bakeries and distributed them to local families. A mad rush within the community formed when news of the bread arrived so it could be taken before 'the Salford lot ' turned up. On the actual site of the Sunlight building there was what only can be described as 'large houses'. One of these was a lodging house ran by a family called Bastow.
In one of the cellars of one of these houses was a rag dealer called Susie Brocklebank who used to sell white stones and brown stones (used at one time for cleaning up steps) The two local schools were St Mary's Roman Catholic School in Eltoft Street and Atherton Street School (where my father went) .The Atherton Street premises are now owned by Granada Television.
There were four local hospitals. The Eye Hospital , St Mary's Hospital ,the Skin Hospital and the Children's Hospital. The latter used to have an ambulance that had Mickey Mouse pictures on it. Additionally there were the local , and famous , St John Street clinics. During World War Two , Sunlight House suffered little damage although Gratrix's warehouse , just a few yards down the road , was destroyed. American Air Force Servicemen used to use the swimming pool in the Sunlight building and were taken to heart by the local kids. My father used to run errands for some of the Airforce men and was rewarded with items such as 'Kool' cigarettes. My father and his friends were in and out of the Sunlight building during the war and although their are other places within the St John’s Ward area reputed to be haunted , my father has no recollection of any 'strange' tales attributed to Sunlight House. During the air raids people from the local area used to take shelter in drained canal sections that run under the local area in the vicinity of the now Granada Studios. (There is also a possibility that these may be opened as a tourist attraction as the old beds from the war are still there and various other items.) These areas are now locked as they would constitute a safety problem.
Current documentation gives the owners name as Mr. Joe Sunlight, however further research shows information that gives his real name as Ioseph Zchovsky, a Russian Jew that came to England to make it big.... and he certainly did that. Apart from building the Sunlight House, Mr. Zchovsky wanted to build an even larger building behind the Sunlight House. He had plans drawn up for this and was to name the huge building the Sunlight Skyscraper. Unfortunately he was declined planning permission by the borough so the construction never went ahead. Mr. Zchovsky was described as a mans man. He would often be found in the Gentleman's Club, which was situated on Deansgate, Manchester during the second World War.
He would often charge the American officers half a crown to let them swim in his pool. He was also a bit of a gambler. Mr. Zchovsky was responsible for building most if not all Manchester Council Houses at the time and the millionth house was located opposite Old Trafford football ground. A photograph of the house with the mayor outside it can be obtained from the public records office. Mr. Zchovsky was also described as a jolly man that was full of pranks and tricks. He would often prod or slap people on the head. Mr. Zchovsky eventually went bankrupt after owing 7 million 900 thousands pounds to the inland revenue. It has been stated that Mr. Zchovsky's closest friends do not know where he is buried. However, if the Skyscraper was built, he would of been placed in a coffin at the top of it as requested. He died in 1978 and Mr. Zchovsky's grave has not yet been located as far as the local Manchester Newspapers inform us. Mr. Zchovsky has had the faces of his family placed on South facing side of the Sunlight House building. A picture of Mr. Zchovsky is currently situated in the building. A newspaper stated the death on 18/04/79. This read,
"Guy from Russia leaves £5 Million. J. Sunlight LIB Member from Shrewsbury. On January 28th 1959, Mr. John Rosedale, partner in firm W.H. Sutton & Sons Chartered Surveyors of Spring Gardens, Manchester, described the Sunlight House as "A most depressing place". In 1929, Jauffred & Gariel & James Collinge Ltd took Mr. J. Sunlight to court. There was an actual case hearing, probably regarding outstanding money owed. The Sunlight House is taxed as an office and has been for the last 27 years. Behind the new interior facades lies some very Gothic style architecture. Also talks with an engineer who worked in the place has given evidence that the old lift shafts are still in place although the mechanisms are disabled.
It is interesting to note that the same engineer remembers the lifts having 'bells' that rung when reaching floors. This has been heard recently by employees at Sunlight house. A suicide attempt was in a 1964 newspaper dated 24/03/64. Mr. Ralph Wright aged 30 years, married, a 3 year old daughter, lived on Lichfield Avenue, Reddish, Stockport was heard to say "He had a problem which could not be solved". Mr. Wright had a back problem which prevented him from holding down a steady job. He was suffering from depression. Mr. T. Standring of Goldschmiot Street, Longsight, a foreman painter and Mr. Francis Matthew's aged 35 years, of Littleton Road, Salford, a masseur and Ex-Grenadier Guard tried to talk Mr. Wright down from a window on the 12th floor of the Sunlight House. Mr. Matthew's later grabbed Mr. Wright. The Sunlight House was once used as a Ministry Defence Building, however problems occurred when their rent was not paid and their agreement was terminated. An attempted suicide took place on the 12th floor, a gentleman by the name of Ralph was saved from his depressive disorder in 1964, however there is mention of a man that committed suicide on the 13th floor by hanging himself. This story was told by an early employee known as Mr. Bob Gallagan. This particular gentleman that committed suicide is yet to be located by documentation.
This seems very difficult as we have no year to go by or name. Mr. Zchovsky was known to like betting and was particularly interested in horse racing. He would sometimes be found at the rear of the Sunlight House taking bets. Mr. Zchovsky also owned race horses and had his own stables. The Sunlight building was fitted with air raid sirens during the second World War like many other buildings.
There had also been mention of a murder that took place at the Sunlight House. This was approximately during the 1950s. Two men went into the building to rob it but one of the men pushed the other down the elevator shaft after robbing him of a minor amount. This would have been when the elevators had sliding caged doors. He fell to the bottom and was apparently crushed to death by the descending elevator. The gentleman in question wishes to remain anonymous, but he did in fact serve time in prison for his actions. The man that died was apparently a caretaker and may have been aged between 40 - 50 years of age. There is a small possibility that the apparition of an old, bald headed man, possibly wearing boots, could have a significant association to the man that died. However, this is only a theory. Also, an Investigator claimed to have been informed of strange ghostly stories regarding the building and a similar story to the robbers. In fact the same, but the man who fell survived and was rushed to hospital. A thorough conclusion on this particular matter is yet to be resolved. Drained canal beds do in fact run under the Sunlight House and there is still one or two tunnels that are accessible.
The On-Site Investigations:
Practically as soon as we set up equipment around the building, video and photographic cameras started playing up. Video cameras were not functioning correctly as if they had battery faults, this was also the same with photographic cameras, film jamming, battery drain etc. It had been arranged to have a meeting every one and a half hours to report our findings. The 9.00 pm meeting was rather interesting, every team leader reported camera faults at 9.02 pm throughout the building.
The Second Meeting:
video camera not functioning correctly on floor 2. Possible shadowy apparition seen on floor 13. Paper balls of possible rubbish found on staircase on floor 10. Possible temporary cold spot found on floor 2. Camera not functioning correctly whilst passing area where possible apparition was seen on floor 13. Video camera turning itself off on its own near the flat on floor 13. Another investigator claimed that something fury touch his arm whist on floor 13. Camera flash working on its own whilst on floor 13. Two lights flickered slightly on floor 2. Generally cold throughout the area on floor 13.
The Third Meeting: Audio equipment turned off on its own on floor 8. Camera not functioning correctly and turning itself on whilst on floor 8. Banging sound from somewhere near, nothing located on floor 13. Door to the conference room opened slightly then shut, no one was apparently around whilst on floor 3.
The Fourth Meeting: Lifts seem to be operating, no one seems to be in them whilst on floor 10.
A thudding sound from the wall was heard whilst on floor 10. Mr. David Scholes reported that the air around him was vibrating in some way. He quickly took a photograph at the time.
From the equipment used on the vigil we have obtained two unusual things...
1. A video camera owned and operated by Mr. David Ardern captured what looks like small balls of light whilst on floor 8 between 10.00 pm and 11.00 pm. This film has been analysed several times and no satisfactory explanation has been found. We have in turn seriously considered SRC (Stray Reflective Conditions), however this again cannot be substantiated.
2. What’s more interesting is a photograph that was taken on a camera owned and operated by investigator David Scholes. If we look at our vigil team response we can note two interesting details.
A. That at the time of the photograph, David Scholes claimed to have witnessed a vibrating sensation in the air around him which was accompanied by a banging sound.
B. That Mr. David Ardern's video camera was situated on the same floor but just at different times. Also both within a close area to one another. The photograph taken by investigator Dave Scholes shows a whispey spiral of light on the right of the picture.
The conclusion was somewhat surprising. We had obtained strange balls of light on video camera film, an energy spiral that was caught on standard photography film, and of course a couple of minor incidents reported by investigators of the team.
The phenomena noted from these incidents during the vigil and past reports from other witnesses that work at the Sunlight House seem to suggest, the building is very much Haunted...
Principle Investigators: Steve Mera & Steve Yarwood
Research carried out by Director of Research: Steve Yarwood.