A Derby market is said to be so haunted by ghostly beings that the city council was once forced to issue a pamphlet entitled Your Poltergeists And How To Deal With It. After witness reports of unusual goings-on continued, two exorcisms took place in the basement of one of its haunted shops to banish the spirits once and for all.
Sightings at the Eagle Market in East Street included electrical devices turning themselves on, loud piercing screams and vanishing beings thought to be departed staff members. These occurred in the late-70s and early-80s and were reportedly kept quiet, partly for fear of a negative effect on sales within certain chain stores.
These secrets were detailed in the book Ghosts of Derby by Wayne Anthony and Richard Felix, which is available to buy here. They explained how the source of the haunting premises potentially stem from a bloody battle which took place on the site of the present Eagle Centre.
The book states: “Ethelfleda, the ‘Lady of Mercia’, wife of Ethelred, Earl of Mercia, took Derby by storm in August 917 AD. The town at that time was held by the Danes and the battle seems to have been a very fierce affair resulting in many warriors being slain on both sides. During the assault, four of Ethelfleda’s thanes were slain ‘within the gates of the city’ to suggest that the town was fortified.”
The authors explained how this site is at the centre of a dispute as to whether a castle existed in Derby. They continued: “Whether there was a castle or not, what is certain is that over the centuries, the face of Derby was to change considerably.
“Domestic housing developments were to spring up all over the face of Derby, as the Industrial Revolution unfolded in England. Several such developments were a group of streets – namely Bloom Street, Albion Place and Albion Street – which were built near the alleged site of Derby Castle.
“Eventually these streets and the houses in them were considered unfit for continued human habitation and they were demolished to make way for a new covered shopping development as Derby tried to keep pace with similar developments in neighbouring towns and cities. Today, we know this site as the Eagle Centre, but although thousands of people use the shopping centre each week, it seems that very few are fully aware of what stood on the site previously.
“Even fewer people know that in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, strange poltergeist phenomena and ghostly sightings were rife in the Eagle Centre. This information was partly repressed for fear of an adverse effect on sales within certain chain stores.
“It would appear to the writer that these ghostly occurrences were due to the fact that, not only was the Eagle Centre built on a site where previously a whole community of people had once existed, it was also built on what may have once been a bloody battlefield where many warriors may have lost their lives.”
Specific accounts relating to four shops within the Eagle Centre were recounted. The book explained: “The following are accounts of some of the happenings that took place, witnessed by ordinary everyday Derby people with no reason to fabricate information concerning the haunting of the Eagle Centre.”
At one outlet, a report included: “On a Saturday morning two members of staff were in the basement of the shop when both experienced an icy cold feeling and became aware of a presence behind them.
“Turning around they expected to see another member of staff but no one was present. They immediately heard a scream, on one note, which gradually died away and was ‘not unlike a woman screaming as if in pain’.”
Another shop saw workers in the staff room report “hearing and seeing coat hangers swinging on racks. A new girl, unaware of strange phenomena, reported seeing coat hangers swinging violently on a wall peg.
“An electric kettle, normally unplugged, was plugged in and the water near boiling point – all without action by staff. Later on that day the electric cooker was found to be switched on with all four rings red hot.”
At a third, “there were two guitars stacked in two cupboard boxes, one above the other, near the counter at the rear of the shop. The top box fell or was pushed by unseen hands and hit the deputy manageress on the head. One lady present at the time described it as ‘flying across’, saying that it could not have fallen naturally in that direction.”
The final shop to experience unusual events had the manager arrive for work “to find a basket of shoes had been emptied onto the floor. He called a window cleaner over and together they searched the building but found nothing else untoward.
“Every shoe was out of the basket, the right way up, standing on their soles. Eventually electrical appliances started switching themselves on, taps were found running and a strange coldness pervaded parts of the buildings in several shops.”
As things continued to get worse, a determined bid to stop these hauntings resulted in an expert in the field of ghosts called in, while a security firm was also tasked with investigating. The final straw came when a cleaner heard a woman’s voice screaming or wailing, “almost like a dog in pain”.
As such, she ran to the stairs and collapsed at the top, overcome with shock. After many years’ service, she subsequently gave in her notice and was too scared to re-enter the shop ever again.
Several other peculiar incidents took place around this time, including a security guard seeing a four-year-old girl in old-fashioned clothes locked in one of the higher-profile shops, and it was then it was decided by higher management within the centre that professional help was needed. A specialist, familiar in dealing with poltergeists and ghostly phenomena, was called in.
“All staff were advised to keep a record of events and to report any strange incidents to a city council official”, who took charge of the situation. Copies of pamphlets entitled Your Poltergeists And How To Deal With It were distributed amongst shop workers, with an extract seen below.
Excerpt of the Derby City Council leaflet on how to deal with poltergeists
A: Its History
1. Poltergeists are quite common and have been recorded for many hundreds of years.
2. At present cases are being researched and documented in the United States where the work of Dr Rhine of Duke University, and of Roll and the Morrises in England, is noteworthy.
3. Many people down the ages and many today have and are suffering from the pranks of their poltergeist.
B: Its Nature
1. It is not an illusion and can produce physical effects which can be weighed, measured and recorded: i.e. it can move things and it can produce noises…
6. It is attached to and part of the mind of an owner or group of owners…
9. The poltergeist feeds on fear, although in fact it is harmless both to soul and body and is, in its way, a relief to the suffering mind.
11. Its ‘owner’ has no control over it and is unaware of his ownership.
C: How To Deal With It
12. Once the pressures which have produced it are understood, the poltergeist will fade out.
15. Where premises have been effected, a ritual blessing will greatly help to calm the atmosphere of strain and fear.
“Many members of staff from several of the shops experiencing problems did make themselves familiar with the pamphlet but the phenomena still continued and it was eventually decided that perhaps the only way to finally solve the ghostly dilemma was to hold an exorcism,” the book says.
“A meeting was arranged and the Bishop of Derby, along with several other clerical experts from Sheffield, was consulted on the matter and a meeting was held in the basement of one of the haunted shops. This allegedly took place in early December 1983.
“I am also informed that a further exorcism took place several months after the first one and was said to have worked better than the first. The phenomena, however, was to continue for some time afterwards, although initially the ghostly appearances in the Eagle Centre dwindled for many months.”
When the book was written, in 1995, it was stated that, even then, many staff who worked at the centre were convinced they had seen a ghost and several spirits. Have you ever had any experiences with paranormal activity at the Eagle Market? Let us know in the comments.