Sentinel House, Hanley
The Stoke Sentinel moved into the former Bethesda Sunday School, on Bethesda Street, Hanley in September 2013. On 23 October 2013 the following article by Dave Knapper entitled ‘Is The Sentinel’s Hanley headquarters haunted?’ was published.
‘GHOSTLY goings on at The Sentinel’s new offices have prompted some staff to claim the historic building may be haunted.
Since moving to the Grade-II listed building on Hanley’s Bethesda Street a number of workers claim to have experienced some creepy encounters including seeing a mysterious figure and feeling cool sensations.
Now staff are closely looking into history of the site to find out just who is allegedly making their presence felt.
The Sentinel’s field sales manager Ruth Baddeley is among those to have experienced something creepy.
She said: “I was sitting at my desk upstairs when I felt a presence behind me. The next thing I knew someone was blowing in my ear. I’m convinced it was a ghost because when I turned round there was no-one nearby.
“Another girl was seeing one of her customers in reception and the customer said: ‘It’s busy down here’. She said: ‘But there’s only the two of us in here’,and he said: ‘But I can see lots of people’. He explained he was a bit psychic.
“It’s causing a bit of a stir here. I do think it’ haunted, but it doesn’t really scare me.”
The building started life as Bethesda Sunday School Rooms in 1819, built by the Bethesda Methodist New Connection Church. Initially the building had just one floor and was used to educate children on Sundays and in the evenings. But the Bethesda Street school rooms were extended in 1836 and an extra floor was added.
By the late Victorian period the school rooms became a hub of social activity and a base for sports group. But following the outbreak of war in 1914 the Sunday school became central to the support of young soldiers from the community who had been sent overseas.
Following the war a memorial room was set up in honour of the 36 men from the Bethesda community who were killed.
When war returned the building took on an important role. In 1940 it was taken over by the Government for use as an Army recruitment centre and medical office. It was handed back to church leaders in 1946.
However with many areas of Hanley going on to be condemned and demolished and families moving away the numbers at the once popular school dwindled. It closed in 1985.
The next use was that of offices and law firm Beswicks took over and renamed the building Alexander House.
It became the home of The Sentinel in September.
Since that move staff are claiming they have been joined by more than their colleagues.
Debbie Amos, field sales rep, said: “I felt a strange sensation on my arm. I do believe in ghosts ever since I saw one in Spain.”
Receptionist Suzanne Mitchell believes she spotted a figure waiting behind a customer before it ‘disappeared’.
She said: “I definitely felt a presence.”
Editorial staff have not noticed any spooky occurrences in their section of the building to date and put the feeling of a presence over their shoulder as simply being the editor during deadline…’