Maureen had been one of the helpers to accompany the children to the swimming pool. (Joan had remained with her daughter Darleen and two other girls and had experienced the day-time crying and moaning). After Maureen arrived back from the pool, another of the girls went to her. The girl was very distressed and said there was blood under the stairway. There was too. Several watched this totally unexplained phenomenon. The blood appeared to ooze through the surface of the underneath section of the stairway. It was not daubed or smeared on. There was no visible sign of any human action involved. One girl actually was brave enough to taste the liquid. She was positive it was blood. Maureen was also quite sure that it was blood that she wiped away and all had thoroughly examined the top of the stairs and there was absolutely nothing to indicate where the blood was seeping from. Once it had been cleaned it did not reappear. It certainly had not been there a few minutes earlier because the stairs had been used during a search for a trap door or some other hidden place where secret entry may have been possible.
Later that evening Maureen recalls how she had gone upstairs with several of the others in the company of the caretaker. This had been arranged earlier so that they could have the door of the small attic unlocked. One of the dogs was also there. When they arrived at the first landing the dog has hesitated and shown fear. It had to be forcibly dragged u to the room. The door was then unlocked and opened. The dog would not enter and Maureen said she was powerless to move into the room. Something seemed to hold her back. She could scarce refrain from vomiting as the stench from within the room was indescribably putrid. She says she never smelled anything as obnoxious. The room was again bolted and padlocked.
Later when they all retired to the Annexe for the night they all heard the moaning and crying. The children were all checked at least three times and each time all were fast asleep.
Several odd things occurred on the following day. Maureen experienced a peculiar pin-prick in her head whilst sitting in a chair in the lounge room. This was at the time that Joan was kneed in the back. There was no-one else around at the time but at each occurrence this terrible smell would waft around just for a moment and then disappear. Visitors arrived unexpectedly in the afternoon. They were old friends of one of the helpers. Upon hearing of the strange happenings they decided to call again later that evening and this they did.
Later Maureen had gone upstairs with Paul and the visitors, Don and his wife Sylvia. They decided to use torches as they wanted to have a good look around without drawing attention to themselves and considered it advisable not to flood the building with light.
However, there had been a most peculiar happening with the torches when they had stood near the fireplace in the main ward.
All had gone out simultaneously. When they stepped several paces away the torches had lighted again. they were all pretty scared by this but sticking together they had repeated the movement to and from the area several times and each time the torches had gone out and relit again in this most incredible manner.
They checked right through the dormitory, on, in and under every bed. These were double bunks in rows along each side of the room. The same putrid smell also remained, but never in the one place.
On the way back they had looked into the side dormitory and noticed a strange oblong shape in the middle of the floor. Thinking it may have been a shadow they switched on the light but it was not a shadow, rather it appeared as a small cloud of dark vapour which slowly dissolved as they watched.
They all returned to the rest of the group downstairs and had supper. During this time they had a serious discussion, trying to find a logical explanation for the things they had heard and felt. They decided to again visit the upstairs dormitory. this they did, checking every conceivable nook and cranny, every bed, cupboard etc. They were absolutely certain that no-one was concealed in the building and there was no possibility that any one could have entered or left the building without being seen.
And yet when they all arrived at the door of the bathroom at the end of the dormitory to their utter amazement they saw water disappearing down the sink and no tap turned on. The tap was very hot as if it had just been used. Now if anyone had been in that bathroom they would have had to pass the group to get out and there was certainly no place where anyone could possibly have hidden.
Maureen recalled that by this time Don was also becoming quite scared, for up to that time he had been prepared to dismiss many of the incidents as imaginary or at least some kind of practical joke. Then to their amazement, on leaving the dormitory they noticed some sort of light at the bottom of the door leading into the attic. They had previously double-checked that the door was bolted and padlocked. The light disappeared and upon further examination the door was found to be open but the room was completely empty. Only the putrid smell remained.
The men shut, bolted and padlocked door was wide open. By now they could hear some of the children in the annexe so they all went over there. One boy was sitting up in his bed, his face as white as a sheet. he was visibly terrified and it was some time before they could get a word out of him. Eventually he said the place was 'spooked'. He had seen a white shape at the window.
This was also seen by Joan and several others later that night. Maureen was also present when some unseen force attacked Vinny. She is positive that Vinny was wide awake at the time and that there was no way that the bruises on Vinny's throat could have been self-inflicted. Vinny had been very affected by the incident and weeks later could not speak about it.
Later that night Maureen said they had heard strange tapping noises but each time they went to investigate the tapping ceased.
About four o'clock that morning they had heard music coming from the main building but no-one by this time was game enough to return to investigate. They had barricaded the doorways in the Annexe with brooms and mops etc. and had armed themselves with cricket bats, stumps and one had a large can of fly spray. The men put a mattress on the floor in the main doorway but all of them stayed awake till daylight. Later that morning, after breakfast, they had all gone upstairs with the caretaker and all the locked doors were open and they noticed a coat hanger in the attic room. It definitely had not been there earlier. They all noticed that the putrid smell had disappeared.
Maureen admits that the caretaker appeared startled to find the doors open. He had not heard the 'explosion' during the night. When told of the other strange happenings he did say that members of a previous church camp had sighted strange white shapes on the verandahs.
Maureen had never had any previous experience with anything supernatural. She is adamant that there are strange forces at work in that building. She knows what she saw.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
How does a healthy athletic young man react to a close encounter with the supernatural?
This was the question I posed to Paul Harrison, son of Mrs. Joan Harrison and coach of the Rochkingham Branch of the Little Athletic Club and one of the group involved with the very strange happenings at the old York hospital.
When I first met Paul shortly after the holiday he was still recovering from the initial shock from all that had happened.
Bewilderment had given way to incredibility, but as he said, 'he had to believe what he saw', and the fact that there were several other reliable witnesses only confirmed his belief that there was some very strange force at work in that building.
He recalled that on arrival they had been told that the upstairs section of the old building was strictly out of bounds. However, because of the above century heat there was some discussion between the adults that it may have been more comfortable for the children to have slept up there with possibly a better flow of air through windows opening on both sides of the dormitory.
He had accompanied Mrs. Maureen Cramer on a tour of inspection. The first thing that amazed him was the icy coldness of that dormitory and the fact that although it was oppressively still outside there was a howling wind blowing down the chimney. He was very aware of an unseen presence in the room with them. He recalls a foul smell, like nothing he had ever smelled before and later in the evening he heard the strange moaning and crying which appeared to come from a locked room.
On the second day Paul had been in the vicinity of the passage when Kirsty had the terrifying experience of a strange force trying to throw her through the glass door.
He had been one of the first on the scene and witnessed the near hysteria of both girls.
Later he had attempted to remove the jagged remains of the glass from the door but it had required the full force of a heavy block of wood, wielded by the caretaker, to dislodge the pieces. Not long after this the sitting room door had slammed in his face actually hitting him on the forehead thereby raising quite a lump. Then the door had re-opened almost immediately as thought by some unseen hand. Yet there was no-one there and no breeze or draught to account for what had happened.
On the third day it was Paul who had been the first on the scene when the young girls saw the blood appearing under the staircase. he reiterates that the blood was fresh and appeared to have oozed from the surface. It definitely had not been smeared on and no-one could have got to the staircase without being observed by him and others of the group.
Again that night he had heard the moaning and screaming. Paul confirmed that he had been on of the four adults who had attempted to find some logical explanation for all that happened. He had accompanied Don and Sylvia and Maureen Cramer on a tour of the upstairs section of the old building. He had held one of the torches that had behaved so strangely by switching on and off at the fireplace.
He it was who first saw the water mysteriously disappearing down the plug hole. There was, he said, no way that anyone could possibly have hidden in that building without being seen. There was no other way out and it would have been absolutely impossible for anyone to have got out of that bathroom without passing the four adults.
Later he had been downstairs in the sitting room when the explosion occurred and also witnessed that the door upstairs which he had personally checked earlier and found to be bolted and padlocked was then wide open as though some extra strong force had been used. Later that night he had observed the children's bedroom door slowly open. There was no-one there but it seemed to confirm the frightening experience of one of the boys who had been found in a state of shock after seeing a ghostly figure at the door that had vanished into thin air.
After talking with Paul and having listened to his account of the extraordinary occurrences I can only say that I am quite certain that he was a most sincere and honest witness. Equally mystified as to the reasons for all that had happened.
Could six perfectly normal people have imagined everything that took place? A seventh outsider voluntarily becoming involved would on his own admission never set foot in the place again. Yet Joan was prepared to set all her fears to one side to return to try to solve the mystery or to at least find the answer to some of her questions.
Many of the children have also told their parents of strange happenings and perhaps they too will one day know the answer and the reason behind it all.
It will be noted that the two women provided accounts of the incident concerning the jog which vary slightly. Maureen state that Joan had placed the jug on the cupboard whereas Joan recalls that it was already there. Variation of such minute detail is not important when measured against the overall similarity of their recollections.