Torquay pub landlord David Brazier may have taken over the town’s most haunted pub. Since opening The Clipper in Melville Street 15 weeks ago, strange things have been happening and one morning Dave was confronted by an unexpected guest.
Dave told the PRSD: “Since I moved in with my three sons, we have heard banging, footsteps in the bar during the night, music levels keep changing, and windows shut on their own. There are certainly parts of the bar that dogs don’t like and they seem to be barking at something.
“The previous landlord did say that the Clipper was haunted but I took that with a pinch of salt and put the noises down to the building being so old. However, I can’t explain actually seeing the juke box levels going up on their own.
“One morning I came into the bar to get ready to open and saw a man in his 70s smoking a pipe,” said Dave.
“My first thought was ‘he can’t smoke in here!’ He was wearing a cap and an old-fashioned jacket. I would say the style of dress was from around the 1920s. I came around the other side of the bar to tell him we weren’t even open yet, but he had disappeared. Billy, one of my customers, says the description sounds like a man called Jack Bell, a regular that used to sit in the same spot before he died.
“A local tells me that the building used to house a mortuary, so if anyone does know more about the history of The Clipper, I would be interested.”
Dave’s son Ben, who works in the pub, said: “Half a dozen times I’ve heard banging and what appears to be footsteps in the middle of the night. I’ve rushed downstairs expecting to confront a burglar, but found nothing.”
Local historian Dr Kevin Dixon said: “The Melville Street area is one of Torquay’s oldest, and it originally boasted three public houses: the Melville – which is now The Clipper – the Coburg and the Warren. Only The Clipper remains.
“The houses were constructed in the 1840s and the building was recorded as a pub in 1917. Before the Great War it appears to be a private house. Melville Street is on the side of the steep valley that runs down to the town centre and one of the old stepped walk ways that characterises the area can still be seen making its way through the building.
“The area hasn’t changed significantly over the past century, though there was some clearance of dilapidated buildings where the car park now stands. Some interesting photographs can be found on the Melville Hill Community website.
“Though there doesn’t appear to be any records of anything supernatural connected to The Clipper, or a tradition of haunting, there was an intriguing comment made in a Herald Express article of November 20, 1976. The then landlady Connie Kelly made a point of saying ‘We haven’t any ghosts, real or imaginary’.
“It just seems an odd statement in an article reviewing the pubs’ food and beer… Perhaps she was protesting too much?”
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