The Beechmount Poltergeist—A Belfast Story

Quercus

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I've been trying to research a case on and off for a few years now - known locally as The Beechmount Poltergeist, sometimes also referred to as The Woman In Black.

It dates from 1989, and the events supposedly took place in a house in Beechmount Grove in West Belfast.

This is the book, written by the man who was seemingly the epicentre of the disturbances:

Number 91 - Front Cover sml.jpg


Number 91 - Rear Cover sml.jpg


It's far from the only monograph written by the person who claimed to be at the centre of a destructive haunting, but it really is one of the most unsual cases I've ever encountered.

Beginning in the summer of 1989, the series of events isn't really a poltergeist story in any traditional sense - rather, it's an account of how an apparition of a Victorian-looking woman in a black dress essentially invaded the Skillen family's 1970s council house one Friday evening, physically attacking the father, John Skillen, for reasons unknown.

Although certain elements of the phenomena reported are consistent with poltergeist cases, such as banging on the floors, heavy furniture moving across the room and doors opening and closing, the ongoing physical attacks on John Skillen remain the most disturbing elements of the account.

At the time it became something of a mania in the area, with crowds of hundreds gathered nightly alongside reporters and news crews on the scene, and various psychics and clergymen attending in an unsuccessful attempt to remove the presence from No. 91. An SPR investigator, Sheila St Clair, also became involved, having heard about the situation on a radio show.

Other than a single anonymised reference to the case in St Clair's 1994 publication Mysterious Ireland, I've found no other reference to the case anywhere else other than some lively discussion on Belfast Forum from users who are still split between those who believe it was all a load of nonsense made up by a family who wanted to be rehoused, and those who claim they were there or knew people who were, and absolutely vouch for the veracity of the tale.

This is what Sheila St Clair had to say, which is a decent synopsis of John Skillen's book:

To end this discussion of poltergeist manifestations, another case attracted attention barely six months after the last, but in the west side of Belfast. Again, it involved a family with children, ranging this time from five to fifteen. This case became well known locally as ‘The Woman in Black’ and attracted quite a lot of media and press attention. The location again was a small modern terrace house, built on the site of older buildings. The ‘radiant centre’ of this manifestation appeared to be the father of the family, who in the weeks that followed was assaulted at times so violently that it necessitated the family forsaking their home and going to stay with friends and neighbours for safekeeping. In the course of the disturbance water taps, lights, the doors and the furniture were interfered with, together with apparitional sightings and changes of temperature.

The most unpleasant of the phenomena which appeared to the man of the house and at times, to the eldest son, was ‘The Woman in Black’ – an apparition of a young woman dressed all in black and with a faintly Victorian air about her. This woman seemed to be particularly hostile towards the husband, and he was subject to beatings, being thrown over the banisters and knocked down the stairs. The entity took strong objection to certain items left in the house by the clergy and concerned neighbours. These included candles that had been blessed, rosaries and crucifixes.

After some of the more physically violent episodes, it became necessary for John S. and his wife to have protection from stout-hearted friends on a twenty-four hour basis until they quit the house. The apparition resisted any attempt to remove her, despite clerical intervention and a vigil being kept in the street by their Catholic neighbours. Mass was said in the house, and the celebrant himself could vouch for the sense of a hostile presence. Some of the neighbours began to fear for the sanctity of their own homes, as the disturbances began to spill over to neighbours on either side. The family’s belongings that remained in the house were frequently broken and destroyed.

It was imperative that the children be removed from this scene of violence, and in fact it would be difficult to assess how much trauma was suffered by them, not only from the psycho-kinetic energy expended but from the loss of their own home and separation, however temporary, from their parents. Several paranormalists investigated the site, but no conclusions were drawn. Even when the furore had died down and the house lay vacant, there was no guarantee that the manifestations had ceased. Understandably, it was some time before a tenant could be found to take on such a notorious dwelling. It may be that the phenomenon was linked only to the family of John S., as does occur in cases of this kind, and there seemed to be no history of disturbance before the family went to live in the house. Presumably, only time will tell if ‘The Woman in Black’ was a one-off event.

pp. 115-116, Mysterious Ireland, Sheila St Clair, 1994, Robert Hale Ltd, London

I've made approaches to the SPR's archivists to see if they hold any more information, but all they can advise is that the papers belonging to the late Mrs St Clair are 'probably' in their archives in Cambridge, but have not been catalogued, let alone digitised. I can of course make an appointment to go and view them, but... 2020 wasn't really a year for travelling.

I've also drawn a blank with BBC Radio Ulster, who interviewed John Skillen in late June 1989 about the occurrences; nor have I been able to track down any of the news articles (mostly sceptical) detailed in the book - but again, the archives of the Newspaper Library in central Belfast has been closed since last March.

Both John and Greta Skillen are now apparently deceased, and the Beechmount housing estate was levelled c.2000 and redeveloped.

Beechmount Grove, 1980s vs 2010s.jpg

I believe that No.91 Beechmount Grove is just out of shot on the far right of this picture - this photo shows about two-thirds of the six-dwelling terrace:

Beechmount Grove - No.91.jpg


One of the Skillen children does occasionally pop up on the Belfast Forum threads relating to the case, usually to request that forum members distributing PDF copies of the book refrain from doing so. They have stated:

I dont want the book circulated. This was a very tramatic time for myself and my family. It is nothing to do with money i do not want my own children to go through what we went through as children and are still going through as adults.

Which is understandable.

I've managed to track down an original copy of the book; it's a hard title to find as not only was it self-published in a small print run, but the glue used for binding wasn't great and most copies seemed to have fallen apart quite quickly.

What strikes me from the book's narrative is the sheer number of people mentioned, by name, who witnessed events or were otherwise present at the property during the time.

What I've also found out is that the house at Beechmount Grove was built on the site of a clay pit, which was part of a former brickworks, and not on the site of previous buildings as the St Clair account states. However, I've been having some difficulty in tracking down a map showing the area between 1970 and 2000 - OSNI's Historic Mapping seems to stop at 1968, while modern maps just show the redeveloped area.

05 Beechmount Area - OSNI Historic Mapping Fifth Edition 1919-63.png



06 Beechmount Area - OSNI Historic Mapping 1957-1986.png


07 Beechmount Area - OSNI Mapping 2020.png


With regard to the claims of 'they only did it to get rehoused', it's maybe worth mentioning that these were four-bed houses, the biggest in the estate. John Skillen mentions that they'd been on the Housing Executive list for many years before being allocated one, and claim to have been very happy and settled there for a number of years before the events of summer 1989 occurred. In West Belfast in the 1980s, there really wasn't anywhere sigificantly better to be rehoused.

Three subsequent families stayed at the address for no more than a few days before leaving.

It really is quite a singular case, and I'm kinda surprised that it remains so obscure. Hopefully I'll find out a bit more in time, and maybe give the story its own thread.
 

lordmongrove

Justified & Ancient
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I've been trying to research a case on and off for a few years now - known locally as The Beechmount Poltergeist, sometimes also referred to as The Woman In Black.

It dates from 1989, and the events supposedly took place in a house in Beechmount Grove in West Belfast.

This is the book, written by the man who was seemingly the epicentre of the disturbances:

View attachment 36723

View attachment 36725

It's far from the only monograph written by the person who claimed to be at the centre of a destructive haunting, but it really is one of the most unsual cases I've ever encountered.

Beginning in the summer of 1989, the series of events isn't really a poltergeist story in any traditional sense - rather, it's an account of how an apparition of a Victorian-looking woman in a black dress essentially invaded the Skillen family's 1970s council house one Friday evening, physically attacking the father, John Skillen, for reasons unknown.

Although certain elements of the phenomena reported are consistent with poltergeist cases, such as banging on the floors, heavy furniture moving across the room and doors opening and closing, the ongoing physical attacks on John Skillen remain the most disturbing elements of the account.

At the time it became something of a mania in the area, with crowds of hundreds gathered nightly alongside reporters and news crews on the scene, and various psychics and clergymen attending in an unsuccessful attempt to remove the presence from No. 91. An SPR investigator, Sheila St Clair, also became involved, having heard about the situation on a radio show.

Other than a single anonymised reference to the case in St Clair's 1994 publication Mysterious Ireland, I've found no other reference to the case anywhere else other than some lively discussion on Belfast Forum from users who are still split between those who believe it was all a load of nonsense made up by a family who wanted to be rehoused, and those who claim they were there or knew people who were, and absolutely vouch for the veracity of the tale.

This is what Sheila St Clair had to say, which is a decent synopsis of John Skillen's book:



I've made approaches to the SPR's archivists to see if they hold any more information, but all they can advise is that the papers belonging to the late Mrs St Clair are 'probably' in their archives in Cambridge, but have not been catalogued, let alone digitised. I can of course make an appointment to go and view them, but... 2020 wasn't really a year for travelling.

I've also drawn a blank with BBC Radio Ulster, who interviewed John Skillen in late June 1989 about the occurrences; nor have I been able to track down any of the news articles (mostly sceptical) detailed in the book - but again, the archives of the Newspaper Library in central Belfast has been closed since last March.

Both John and Greta Skillen are now apparently deceased, and the Beechmount housing estate was levelled c.2000 and redeveloped.

View attachment 36726
I believe that No.91 Beechmount Grove is just out of shot on the far right of this picture - this photo shows about two-thirds of the six-dwelling terrace:

View attachment 36727

One of the Skillen children does occasionally pop up on the Belfast Forum threads relating to the case, usually to request that forum members distributing PDF copies of the book refrain from doing so. They have stated:



Which is understandable.

I've managed to track down an original copy of the book; it's a hard title to find as not only was it self-published in a small print run, but the glue used for binding wasn't great and most copies seemed to have fallen apart quite quickly.

What strikes me from the book's narrative is the sheer number of people mentioned, by name, who witnessed events or were otherwise present at the property during the time.

What I've also found out is that the house at Beechmount Grove was built on the site of a clay pit, which was part of a former brickworks, and not on the site of previous buildings as the St Clair account states. However, I've been having some difficulty in tracking down a map showing the area between 1970 and 2000 - OSNI's Historic Mapping seems to stop at 1968, while modern maps just show the redeveloped area.

View attachment 36732


View attachment 36733

View attachment 36734

With regard to the claims of 'they only did it to get rehoused', it's maybe worth mentioning that these were four-bed houses, the biggest in the estate. John Skillen mentions that they'd been on the Housing Executive list for many years before being allocated one, and claim to have been very happy and settled there for a number of years before the events of summer 1989 occurred. In West Belfast in the 1980s, there really wasn't anywhere sigificantly better to be rehoused.

Three subsequent families stayed at the address for no more than a few days before leaving.

It really is quite a singular case, and I'm kinda surprised that it remains so obscure. Hopefully I'll find out a bit more in time, and maybe give the story its own thread.

Some bloody good work there!
 

Quercus

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Dammit, I want a copy now :headbang:

Copies of Number 91 do still crop up for sale from time to time (hence my acquisition), but sadly the days of them changing hands for a tenner seems to be behind us.

Most secondhand bookshops seem to have twigged that they're fairly well sought after, and price them accordingly. It wasn't the most expensive book I've ever bought - but it's up there...

(It also stinks of cigarette smoke, to the point that I have to keep it in a sealed bag, along with a dessicant sachet.)

Every so often someone will appear on the Belfast Forum announcing that the book is about to be republished, and they're taking advance orders, or that they're going to read the book chapter by chapter on their YouTube channel, but so far nothing has transpired.

Some copies are available through public and private libraries in Northern Ireland, but are classed as heritage/reference and so can't be borrowed, just read in situ. One reader took that route, though obviously this becomes rather more challenging if you live outside the area.

The heritage copy of Number 91 held by the Linenhall Library in Belfast (Ireland's oldest private members' library, though open to the public to come in browse) is by now basically just a load of loose pages in an envelope - though interestingly, it is a presentation copy to the library, signed by John Skillen.

There's supposedly a way to read it via the OpenLibrary project, but I'm still somewhat confused as to whether it is or isn't available - the title is listed, but classified as 'not in library'. Possibly someone more familiar with OpenLibrary may be able to find out more.

It seems the surviving family members would prefer the whole episode to be forgotten about; which, of course, tends to pique the interest even more.

John Skillen clearly felt strongly enough about what happened to him and his family to go to the trouble of publishing a book on the matter, so clearly - at one point - he was keen for his experiences, as he perceived them, to be widely known and understood.

I think what interests me most is not just what is alleged to have happened - which has comparators to very well-known cases like the Enfield Poltergeist and the Black Monk of Pontefract - but why it remains very obscure in paranormal circles, yet still has enormous potency and strength of feeling within the local community, even thirty-odd years later.
 

catseye

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I think what interests me most is not just what is alleged to have happened - which has comparators to very well-known cases like the Enfield Poltergeist and the Black Monk of Pontefract - but why it remains very obscure in paranormal circles, yet still has enormous potency and strength of feeling within the local community, even thirty-odd years later.
Could some of the obscurity be to do with the times during which this was happening? Things weren't happy in Belfast in 1989 and events in that direction may have overshadowed paranormal events to some degree, and prevented research into the occurances.
 

Quercus

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Are you sure? that looks dodgy. Have you downloaded it yourself?

As per the Opinionated Geek blog post linked upthread...

There are mutterings about a PDF version in circulation, and then further mutterings from the family of the author asking that the PDF not be spread around, and then lots of dodgy piracy sites catching on to the search term and polluting all search results for the book (try it if you don’t believe me). I wouldn’t be comfortable downloading a dodgy PDF of a book anyway.

I wish there was a cheap, easy and legal way to allow people to read this, but I'm not sure there is just yet.

But if there's a bit of interest in this case, then I should probably start a dedicated thread for expansion and further discussion.
 

gordonrutter

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Copies of Number 91 do still crop up for sale from time to time (hence my acquisition), but sadly the days of them changing hands for a tenner seems to be behind us.

Most secondhand bookshops seem to have twigged that they're fairly well sought after, and price them accordingly. It wasn't the most expensive book I've ever bought - but it's up there...

(It also stinks of cigarette smoke, to the point that I have to keep it in a sealed bag, along with a dessicant sachet.)

Every so often someone will appear on the Belfast Forum announcing that the book is about to be republished, and they're taking advance orders, or that they're going to read the book chapter by chapter on their YouTube channel, but so far nothing has transpired.

Some copies are available through public and private libraries in Northern Ireland, but are classed as heritage/reference and so can't be borrowed, just read in situ. One reader took that route, though obviously this becomes rather more challenging if you live outside the area.

The heritage copy of Number 91 held by the Linenhall Library in Belfast (Ireland's oldest private members' library, though open to the public to come in browse) is by now basically just a load of loose pages in an envelope - though interestingly, it is a presentation copy to the library, signed by John Skillen.

There's supposedly a way to read it via the OpenLibrary project, but I'm still somewhat confused as to whether it is or isn't available - the title is listed, but classified as 'not in library'. Possibly someone more familiar with OpenLibrary may be able to find out more.

It seems the surviving family members would prefer the whole episode to be forgotten about; which, of course, tends to pique the interest even more.

John Skillen clearly felt strongly enough about what happened to him and his family to go to the trouble of publishing a book on the matter, so clearly - at one point - he was keen for his experiences, as he perceived them, to be widely known and understood.

I think what interests me most is not just what is alleged to have happened - which has comparators to very well-known cases like the Enfield Poltergeist and the Black Monk of Pontefract - but why it remains very obscure in paranormal circles, yet still has enormous potency and strength of feeling within the local community, even thirty-odd years later.
I can see one problem in researching this case now - the name Woman in Black! You can guarantee 99% of the hits on Google will be the film / play / tv show / book!
 

Quercus

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Could some of the obscurity be to do with the times during which this was happening? Things weren't happy in Belfast in 1989 and events in that direction may have overshadowed paranormal events to some degree, and prevented research into the occurances.

It's quite possible - though there have been numerous books on Irish Ghosts published in the last twenty-odd years, both by local authors as well as by fairly big-hitters like Peter Underwood, and they've continued to overlook the Beechmount case.

Given that there was media interest and some limited SPR involvement at the time, I think I'm just a little surprised that there's been no reappraisal, when other polt cases like Sauchie and South Shields are fairly well known.

Something makes me wonder whether it was debunked not long after, and I just haven't found that out!
 

Soul_Doubt

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I've been trying to research a case on and off for a few years now - known locally as The Beechmount Poltergeist, sometimes also referred to as The Woman In Black.

Hey Quercus, I got forwarded a PDF copy of this book a year or two back after hearing rumours about it for many years before that.

I think a local publisher is missing a trick by not re-publishing it, I think it would do phenomenally well. Even people who aren't normally into paranormal stuff seem fascinated by it.

I must say I was disappointed after reading it... it seemed *extremely* implausible to me. Especially the physical attacks. Though having said that, I used to work with a guy who claimed to know the family and swore it was true.

I did a bit of my own research after reading to see if I could get any more details (solely on Google) but couldn't find anything other than that Belfast Forum thread.
 

Quercus

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Hey Quercus, I got forwarded a PDF copy of this book a year or two back after hearing rumours about it for many years before that.

I think a local publisher is missing a trick by not re-publishing it, I think it would do phenomenally well. Even people who aren't normally into paranormal stuff seem fascinated by it.

I must say I was disappointed after reading it... it seemed *extremely* implausible to me. Especially the physical attacks. Though having said that, I used to work with a guy who claimed to know the family and swore it was true.

I did a bit of my own research after reading to see if I could get any more details (solely on Google) but couldn't find anything other than that Belfast Forum thread.

Yeah, it seems that the surviving family members want nothing whatsoever to do with the book, and have repeatedly refused permission to republish - despite a ready market for it. Apparently it's nothing to do with the money, they just don't want their own kids to be subjected to the stigma they faced while growing up, and are still trying to move on from what occurred in their home thirty-odd years ago.

They've also come down hard on those circulating PDFs, getting a bit legalistic at times, again in an effort to stop the story becoming more widely known again. But it's a tough thing to keep a lid on, especially when there are literally hundreds of people mentioned in the book, many of them named, who heard, saw and felt the entity in No.91. And still support the veracity of the published account, even though they stand to gain nothing from it now.

Aside from the Belfast Forum threads about the case, I also found some interesting snippets from a general-topic Facebook page for Beechmount residents, where references to 'the ghostie house' cropped up a few times.

Interestingly, some of the people commenting on Facebook identified themselves as related to neighbours of the Skillens, who became embroiled in the disturbances - and their surnames do cross-reference with those mentioned in the book. Some also vouch for the truthfulness of the account as written down by John Skillen. A lot of folk from the area were drawn in to the case, so it's maybe no surprise there's a strong folk memory still.

I'm still trying to draw together some sort of synopsis of the whole case, because it is way beyond the realm of anything else I've ever heard happening. I probably need to try the BBC again, to see if they still have the radio interview with John Skillen held in their archives. And the SPR archive in Cambridge, to see if they hold Sheila St Clair's notes from her investigation at Beechmount. Also the Newspaper Library off Royal Avenue, to see what the original press reports said - the reporters were apparently sceptical, and I'd be interested to know what their grounds were for dismissing it.

It's a fascinating case; outlandish and in many ways implausible, since it deviates so radically in its detail from more conventional tales of hauntings and poltergeists. I know that most paranormal investigators will say that if a supposed haunting contains entirely unique elements compared to similar reported cases, then that probably means it's a fabrication (e.g. the Lutz family's somewhat lurid account of their supposed experiences, which became The Amityville Horror). I agree with you that it doesn't seem to ring true, and yet... something happened in that house. It bugs me that I still don't know what.

[Edited for typo]
 
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Spookdaddy

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The dramatic circumstances of the alleged 1989 haunting of house on Beechmount Grove, West Belfast, have recently been discussed on the Obscure Cases, thread.

However, as Quercus suggested over there, the case really deserves a thread of its own - and I’ve been inspired to start the ball rolling because, completely by coincidence, I have just stumbled across a podcast covering the case in the last few hours. (In fact, at the time of writing episode two appears to be barely a day old ).

Most importantly, both episodes are based on very close reference to, and direct quotation from, the infuriatingly hard to get book on the subject, Number 91: A Belfast Ghost Story, by John Skillen.

I freely admit that I really have no idea what to make of the case – but it’s most definitely interesting.

I’m going to ask the nice mods if they might be able to fillet out the relevant posts from the previously mentioned thread and put them here.

Anyway, I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet – but here are two satisfyingly chunky episodes on the subject from the Weekly Creep podcast, which was completely unknown to me until a few hours ago. (Trigger warning for earthy language - if that sort of thing bothers you):





Okay, so not only that, but Quercus also mentioned on the previously mentioned thread:

…Every so often someone will appear on the Belfast Forum announcing that the book is about to be republished, and they're taking advance orders, or that they're going to read the book chapter by chapter on their YouTube channel, but so far nothing has transpired.

I wonder if this is that guy. He has put up an awful lot of relevant stuff - text as well as background. In fact, although I’ve only dipped into his channel and can’t say for sure, it seems the whole text of the book might be included.

First instalment:


Complete playlist for the book, here.

Edit: Currently only 11 of the 17 chapters covered. But apparently he has plans to finish.
 
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Quercus

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Hey, thanks for posting the podcast link here - most helpful! And also to @EnolaGaia for moving this to its own thread (making it all nice and neat).

I received a notification only yesterday from Belfast Forum flagging a new post about No. 91, and I came here with the intention of advising those with an interest:

Screenshot_20210501-234845~2.png

http://www.belfastforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,73633.0.html

I haven't listened to the podcast myself yet, but that's tomorrow morning's listening decided...

Also thanks to @Spookdaddy for finding the YouTube reading links - this was also mentioned on Belfast Forum last summer, but no more was ever mentioned about it and I assumed it had foundered as a project. Well, apparently not!

Screenshot_20210501-235613~2.png

http://www.belfastforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,23056.405.html

I dont know whether the "copyright issues" were addressed and the project is fully legit, but hopefully so - since it's such a hassle to find an original copy of the account, and because it's such a singular tale that deserves to be told.

In all honesty, I'm a teeny weeny bit downcast as I've been chipping away at this story for a right few years now, and I suppose I had started to feel a bit proprietorial as if it were 'my' story, in a way... so it comes as a minor shock to find that I've been pipped to the post by the podcasters, so to speak.

I'd hoped to find Sheila St Clair's original casenotes in the Cambridge archive, to see if they gave the non-pseudonymised names of the other researchers involved to open up further lines of enquiry, and I'd hoped to track down contemporary news and radio articles to see if they squared with the claims made in the book.

BUT, all things considered, it's not my story and I've no more claim to it than anyone else. And if there's other people out there who have done further research from different angles, then that's a good thing... I really need to stop feeling so precious about it all.

Will have a listen to the podcast in the morning!
 

Spookdaddy

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...BUT, all things considered, it's not my story and I've no more claim to it than anyone else. And if there's other people out there who have done further research from different angles, then that's a good thing... I really need to stop feeling so precious about it all...

Don't be so downcast, Quercus.

I don't think you have to beat yourself up in regard to feeling a bit of proprietorial about the case - I suspect that is a very common thing, especially with the more obscure ones, and probably inevitable, when you've rolled up your shirtsleeves and put your shoulder to something that hasn't moved for years.

Secondly, although the podcast and links I referenced are very interesting for those of us who cannot get hold of the book, and provide a fair bit of background and context, they really don't move the story along in any way from the position it was in your first post on the subject.

...I'd hoped to find Sheila St Clair's original casenotes in the Cambridge archive, to see if they gave the non-pseudonymised names of the other researchers involved to open up further lines of enquiry, and I'd hoped to track down contemporary news and radio articles to see if they squared with the claims made in the book...

Still sounds like a very good plan to me.

And, if the whole thing does turn out to be more, or less, than it seems - well, my attitude to these things is that even if the real story is not the one being told, there's still a story. It's definitely got legs, and I look forward to future developments.
 
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Quercus

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Well, I had a listen to the Weekly Creep podcast episodes about Number 91 over the weekend (while I was laying drains, as it happens).

Weighing in at around three hours in total across two episodes, it's a hefty enough listen. But in fairness the duo behind the show - Adam and Dulce - do manage to summarise the book pretty well, reading out the more interesting paranormal sections verbatim, while glossing over the more everyday linking passages concerning the family's ever-evolving living arrangements. If you've a few hours to spare, it'll certainly give you a good understanding of what John Skillen's book is all about.

At the very end, Adam the co-host states that it's "probably the most interesting ghost story I've ever read", certainly in terms of the sheer amount of activity recounted. And I can see why that is - there is a lot in the book, and some of it pretty extreme.

But I still find it interesting that it's seen as a 'ghost story' (and indeed is subtitled as such on the cover), because I don't see it that way - it's certainly an account, but it's absolutely not a story in the sense of a narrative arc, as there's not much in the way of a resolution, or even a working theory about what's going on. Stuff just happens, and no-one knows why. John Skillen's as much in the dark as the reader is.

With cases such as Enfield or Pontefract, armchair investigators (such as myself) can at least speculate about what might have happened based on the available evidence or other hearsay (the poltergeist at Enfield was somehow related to a former resident of the property who had died there; the Black Monk at Pontefract was linked to a murder at a well over which the property was built), but the Beechmount case gives us nothing to go on, other than the tantalising possibility that the same figure had popped up in other properties on the estate before arriving at No.91.

As a story, its incompleteness is what makes it fascinating to some (like me) and frustrating to others (the many who have slammed the book on Belfast Forum as being 'rubbish' and 'boring').

It seems that someone forwarded the Weekly Creep showhosts one of the bootleg PDFs in circulation, and they took it from there.

Screenshot_20210502-202354~2.png

Screenshot_20210502-202420~2.png

Belfast Forum gets a mention, as it seems that this has become an unwitting focus for much of the lore and speculation surrounding No.91.

If I were being picky, I'd have to say that the show's tone kinda jarred a bit with me. Adam states that the show is meant to be lighthearted, but at times I felt the comments made came across as more than just flippant, and verging on quite unpleasant. Doing jokey voices is one thing; speculating that they were all drunk goes a bit further.

These were real people, and even if everything that was stated to occur didn't necessarily happen exactly the way it's recorded, the Skillens believed that it did - and their distress is palpable throughout the book, as well as their confusion and anger. I don't think it's fair to just turn it into a piss-take. Anyone can comment as they please on a book, but I'd sooner have heard a more serious discussion about the events outlined.

Which then brings us in to the other YouTube channel covering the same tale, 'Irish Technical Thinker's chapter-by-chapter telling of the story.

Now, I've only listened to the initial preamble and Chapter 1 so far, as this moves quite slowly - it's read line by line, with other discussion and explanation around it - as the narrator explicitly states, it's done this way to get around copyright law, as he's recording a critique of a text rather than just reading out the text itself.

Not only can you follow the PDF text on the screen, but the narrator also uses mapping to show roughly where No.91 once stood (very roughly - I'm fairly sure he's at the wrong end of a very long and winding street) and draws in other local folklore to contrast with the events of June 1989.

He does also have his own local knowledge to add to the proceedings, plus he personally knows someone who was there and witnessed some of the phenomena - so that's valuable. I hope to listen to a few more of these, and hopefully he'll finish the full book. Again, if you're interested in a long listen, you may wish to tune in.

As ever, in search of various nuggets about this case I always end up grubbing around the comments sections.

Which can sometimes pay dividends.
Screenshot_20210502-003744~3.png


I'm going to guess that Zoe Skillen's surname isn't a coincidence...
 
Last edited:

Quercus

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Well, for a number of reasons I'd made a bit of a conscious decision to back off from all of this - to the point of selling on my original copy of Number 91 to a folklorist in the US - but, as ever, something seems to draw me back in.

A few nights ago, while looking for something unrelated on the Northern Ireland Digital Film Archive, I happened upon two clips in the 'Recommended for you' sidebar.

The first seems to be a short clip from a local Ulster Television news reporter, Ivan Little, standing outside 91 Beechmount Grove on 8th June 1989 - less than a week into the reported disturbances.

https://digitalfilmarchive.net/media/beechmont-ghost-falls-road-4538

The second is a longer interview with author and paranormal researcher Sheila St Clair conducted by Mr Little, apparently recorded a few miles down the road on the same day.

https://digitalfilmarchive.net/media/sheila-st-clair-discusses-the-beechmont-4539

Presumably these are just two sections from a wider story that was broadcast on the UTV evening news on the 8th of June. It's unfortunate that the entire broadcast piece doesn't seem to be available yet, just these two clips.


They probably haven't shown up in any of my previous internet searches as DFA has incorrectly labelled them as 'Beechmont' rather than 'Beechmount'. I'll email them and ask them to correct this.

There's nothing all that new or startling in the clips, but it's maybe useful to have some contemporary accounts to bolster the text of the book. It also gives a few dates - there's a mention of 'the story in this morning's newspapers', which may be helpful to nail down a date if I ever get round to booking a slot at the Newpaper Library archive in Belfast.

I did a bit of transcribing too, and I'll post the full details from each of the clips below.
 

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UTV News – 8 June 1989

Beechmont [sic] Ghost – Falls Road

Number_91_ UTV_News_Ivan_Little_91_Beechmount_Grove_08_June_1989.png


Location:
Beechmount Grove, Falls Road, Belfast

Year: 1989

Production Date: 08 June 1989

Duration: 00m 26s

Audio: Sound

Format: Betacam, colour

Source: Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen & Public Record Office of Northern Ireland)

Courtesy: Department for Communities (DfC), ITV, PRONI

Rights Holder: ITV

Credits: A UTV Production

Interviewer: Ivan Little (IL) – News Reporter, Ulster Television (UTV)



Digital Film Archive Description:


There's a mystery brewing for a house on the Falls Road, with Ivan Little assuring us a priest had only gone to show compassion for the family and not to perform an exorcism, but confirms the priest had felt there was a presence in the house...


Clip Transcript:


IL:

“Up to ten neighbours have been spending every night in the house, praying with the man, and saying the rosary. A local priest joined them on Tuesday night, but he said that nothing untoward had happened. The priest said he hadn’t gone to the house to act as an exorcist; he said he’d gone simply to show his compassion for the family, whom he described as ‘very good people’. The priest said that from speaking to the family, he believed there was something in the house – but he didn’t know what it was.”


[Note – Digital Film Archive has consistently misspelled Beechmount as ‘Beechmont’]

https://digitalfilmarchive.net/media/beechmont-ghost-falls-road-4538
 

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Sheila St Clair discusses the Beechmont [sic] Ghost

Number_91_Sheila_St_Clair_Interview_UTV_News_08_June_1989.png


Location: Garden of Sheila St Clair’s home, Lisburn

Production Date: 08 June 1989

Duration: 05m 44s

Audio: Sound

Format: Betacam, colour

Source: Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen & Public Record Office of Northern Ireland)

Courtesy: Department for Communities (DfC), ITV, PRONI

Rights Holder: ITV

Credits: A UTV Production

Interviewer: Ivan Little (IL) – News Reporter, Ulster Television (UTV)

Interviewee: Sheila St Clair (SSC) – author and member of Society for Psychical Research (SPR)


Digital Film Archive Description:

From her home in Lisburn, Sheila St Clair - Ulster's best known psychic investigator - chats to Ivan Little about an incident on the Falls Road, where she believes the man involved has had a physical violence "associated with the manifestation". She also explains how these manifestations occur and why it is more likely to happen around young people as they "store reserves of energy".



Clip Transcript:


IL:

“Sheila St Clair, I know you don’t know the exact details of this particular case, but in general terms, how, how could one explain what has happened?”

SSC:

“Well, as you say, we haven’t got – I haven’t spoken to the people actually concerned, Ivan, but – um – it sounds to me as if there is a physical element in, in the manifestations. I believe this, uh, this man has had some physical, er, violence associated with the manifestation, and in general terms when that occurs one does tend to think in, um, round about the area of what we call RSPK, which is Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinetic energy.

“Now, this is not an entity, it’s – we’re not talking about, uh, spirits or even demoniacal intervention. What we are talking about is, um, a form of natural energy which, um, as far as research would show is, is, is, ah, an energy akin to an electrical charge which, um, which does reside in most of us as a form of, um, spontaneous emission of energy.

“Um, again, the other possibility, um, in this context is interesting because, um, I believe there were young children in the house – and quite often when you have, um, a manifestation of psychokinetic energy, it does involve young children because they appear to store, um, residues of energy which can be translated into actual phy-physical manifestation.

“Um, the, the interesting thing probably, Ivan, is that it wasn’t the children who complained of seeing the apparition; it was the, the father who, um, said that he – or is alleged to have seen – this apparition of this young woman with, dressed in, what, 1930s garb with her hair in a bun at the back of her head.

“Um, it’s, it’s possible that what he is doing is, he is a receiver of an impression which may reside in his own mind, um, or in the minds of any of those people present and the cause of the, um, the charge of energy, if you like, is released as an actual form.

“Er, I suppose the nearest context you – we’d have, say, in, in television, would be looking at it as a kind of, um, negative suddenly becoming positive on a moving film, and, um, he unfortunately is, ah, the only recipient of this image, which, um, which does happen and it’s unfortunate in the sense that quite often when this sort of, of, um, manifestation occurs, it occurs to people who have no previous experience of it; who are, to all intents and purposes, normal people – I use that word somewhat advisedly, because none of us know what ‘the norm’ is – but they, they would say they’re, they’re disturbed, they’re distressed because they don’t know why it is they’re seeing, or hearing, or being subject to this kind of violence.”

IL:

“So it’s not all that uncommon – it, it has happened before?”

SSC:

“Oh, it’s not uncommon – um, I would say over a year, if you took the areas in which psychical research societies involve themselves, both here in Europe and in the United States, and Russia, it would be a fairly common occurrence. Here in Ireland, possibly, um, I would only be called upon to investigate such an occurrence maybe twice in any one year. Er, obviously it would average itself out, but – this year, for example, from say September of last year to now, I’ve only had one case reported to me in Ireland, but it’s not uncommon, in that sense.”

IL:

“What, what will happen next in the house?”

SSC:

“It’s hard to say, it – you can’t put a timescale on this, you see. It could, it could, um, in the case of, um, I suppose the popular name for what I’m talking about, is poltergeist energy, um – it could happen once, it could happen every day for six weeks, it could then disappear as in – as inexplicably as it occurred. It could go on for six months, it could go on for two years – you simply don’t know the timescale.

“Um, you’d also, without very careful investigation, you wouldn’t be able to pin – suggest or pinpoint some reason why it occurred in the first place. It could be the children’s presence, it could be disturbance in the area, um, actual physical disturbance of buildings I’m talking about, you know like rebuilding sometimes – the energy is ex-, is, uh, released.

“But, um, unfortunately you can’t give this family any kind of limit to, to their discomfort; um, I, I would feel very strongly where young impressionable children are concerned that the family are best out of the house for the time being, um, and I think the father if, as this morning’s papers suggest, he is sleeping in the house, would require support, um, because that is an action which takes a considerable amount of courage, er, and, and it is something that you really can do nothing about, because it is not amenable to suggestion or instruction. It is a – you’re dealing with a spontaneous burst of energy over which you simply don’t have control.”



[Note – Digital Film Archive has consistently misspelled Beechmount as ‘Beechmont’]

https://digitalfilmarchive.net/media/sheila-st-clair-discusses-the-beechmont-4539
 

Quercus

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What's interesting from the Sheila St Clair piece is its consistency with the letter she wrote to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on 22 June, supporting the Skillen family's request for rehousing. This was reprinted as an Appendix at the back of 'Number 91':

To whom it may concern:

I have been in communication with Mr John Skillen of 91 [Beechmount Grove], BT12, with regard to the alleged disturbances experienced by him and members of his family at the above address, as a result of which, Mr Skillen has been forced to seek refuge for his family with friends and relations.

As an experienced researcher and investigator into paranormalism, over a long period of time, as well as being a member of the Society of Psychical Research (London), a scientific body whose brief is to examine alleged instances of paranormalism, I am of the opinion that the disturbances that have been experienced by Mr Skillen fall into a pattern identifiable as RSPK (Recurrent Spontaneous Psycho-Kinesis).

Where RSPK occurs, the witnesses experienced disturbances with natural resources (water supplies, electricity), abnormal drops in temperature, movement of objects or actual physical violence within limited locations or in geographical areas.

In this particular case, a less common dimension was added – that of the visualization by Mr Skillen of a form within the house. In the main, this kind of disturbance is due to a spontaneous release of natural PK energy, an energy which exists in large quantities in all lifeforms.

Disturbances are more likely in locations that are inhabited by young children not having reached the age of puberty, as those children themselves are unconscious sources of PK energy. In most instances, this distressing and sometimes dangerous disturbance occurs to people with no previous history or experience of paranormalism.

It may be readily obvious that such an event can be both physically frightening and psychologically distressing, the victims feeling helpless to cope with circumstances that are patently not amenable to logical control. It can and does have a traumatic effect on young children and my advice in most cases of this nature is to remove the family from the source of the disturbance. Sometimes when the extra sources of energy are removed, the location ‘settles down’ but often only after a considerable period of time.

With regard to acts of physical violence being perpetrated on the victims, these can be potentially dangerous, as the bouts of energy are entirely unpredictable. It is of interest that this is the second case of this kind in Belfast in the last six months; in the previous case, the young house-owner and his family had to move out of their home, after several weeks of unpleasant attacks on them.

It is my considered opinion that for his own sake, Mr Skillen should not return to 91 [Beechmount Grove], because it is possible that the manifestations could take a more violent turn. Electrical malfunctioning and spontaneous outbreaks of fire could occur.

I would endeavour to assure, insofar as I understand the case, that I do not believe that the occupants are hallucinating, and by no stretch of the imagination can a disturbance of this kind be construed as a ‘laughing matter’. I speak not only as a scientific observer of such instances, but with some appreciation of the dilemma of witnesses who are involved in such events. Should you require further verification, I would be happy to put you in touch with colleagues in the SPR.

I also appreciate the dilemma of any housing authority that finds itself having to make a decision on such a case, bearing in mind the urgency of the need of the families involved. I can only say that in the United Kingdom many Housing Authorities have, over the years, found themselves in a similar position, and it is gratifying to be able to say that in most cases they have dealt with the problem both speedily and sympathetically.

Mr Skillen impressed me as a person who was not seeking to sensationalise his predicament, but one who had behaved in a very quiet, sensible way, being honest enough to admit to being very badly frightened, as well as being very concerned over the well-being of his young family.

It is my belief that he deserves the fullest consideration.

I appreciate, too, that with a shortage of housing, there is a very real need that the Beechmount property does not stand idle and that within a foreseeable period of time it could be re-tenanted. Should any disturbance continue, I would be happy to offer any advice I thought helpful, in order for the house to be rendered habitable again.

I know that the Skillen family are very sad at having to leave their home, and that Mrs Skillen has undergone a great deal of anxiety. I do believe, however, that it is in the best interests of this family that they should be re-housed, if at all possible.

I hope I have helped to clarify the situation a little. I can assure you that such outbreaks of RSPK are not the aberration of a sick mind, but a not uncommon manifestation of a powerful source of universal energy. The real danger lies in our ability to predict its behaviour or to control it.


Sheila St Clair, BA, PGCE, SPR

22 June 1989

In both of these pieces, she makes no reference to ghosts or hauntings, but characterises the phenomena experienced as indicative of Recurrent Spontaneous Psycho-Kinetic energy (RSPK).

In the filmed piece of 8 June, she confirms that she hasn't yet had any contact with the family herself.

By 22 June, she states in her letter that she has been in communication with John Skillen.

In the book's text, John states that he recorded an interview with 'a local radio station' (presumably BBC Radio Ulster) on the 14th of June, which was broadcast the next day on the Barry Cowan show - after which Sheila St Clair made contact with the family via the radio station.

So it's interesting that she was definitely aware of the case unfolding at least a week before the radio broadcast on 15 June, and must have then spoken to John (and possibly others in the family) before writing her letter of 22 June - and that her opinion on the underlying nature of the case, as a manifestation of RSPK energy, had not changed following this contact.

This is why I'd be quite keen to view her original casenotes, if they've survived and are indeed stored, uncatalogued, in the SPR's Cambridge archive.
 

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What's interesting from the Sheila St Clair piece is its consistency with the letter she wrote to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on 22 June, supporting the Skillen family's request for rehousing. This was reprinted as an Appendix at the back of 'Number 91':



In both of these pieces, she makes no reference to ghosts or hauntings, but characterises the phenomena experienced as indicative of Recurrent Spontaneous Psycho-Kinetic energy (RSPK).

In the filmed piece of 8 June, she confirms that she hasn't yet had any contact with the family herself.

By 22 June, she states in her letter that she has been in communication with John Skillen.

In the book's text, John states that he recorded an interview with 'a local radio station' (presumably BBC Radio Ulster) on the 14th of June, which was broadcast the next day on the Barry Cowan show - after which Sheila St Clair made contact with the family via the radio station.

So it's interesting that she was definitely aware of the case unfolding at least a week before the radio broadcast on 15 June, and must have then spoken to John (and possibly others in the family) before writing her letter of 22 June - and that her opinion on the underlying nature of the case, as a manifestation of RSPK energy, had not changed following this contact.

This is why I'd be quite keen to view her original casenotes, if they've survived and are indeed stored, uncatalogued, in the SPR's Cambridge archive.
Not trendy talking about spirits/ghosts/hauntings at SPR. It's not scientific. You can be frowned at from under very bushy eyebrows. And much better to say RSPK rather than poltergeist, safer that way. You don't have to invoke any potential entities.
 

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As I mentioned further upthread, Sheila St Clair is the only author I can find who mentioned the Beechmount case in one of her books - 1994's Mysterious Ireland.

However, it was included in part of a chapter about the Banshee/ béan sidhe, referencing the manifestation of sinister female apparitions:

To end this discussion of poltergeist manifestations, another case attracted attention barely six months after the last, but in the west side of Belfast. Again, it involved a family with children, ranging this time from five to fifteen. This case became well known locally as ‘The Woman in Black’ and attracted quite a lot of media and press attention. The location again was a small modern terrace house, built on the site of older buildings. The ‘radiant centre’ of this manifestation appeared to be the father of the family, who in the weeks that followed was assaulted at times so violently that it necessitated the family forsaking their home and going to stay with friends and neighbours for safekeeping. In the course of the disturbance water taps, lights, the doors and the furniture were interfered with, together with apparitional sightings and changes of temperature.

The most unpleasant of the phenomena which appeared to the man of the house and at times, to the eldest son, was ‘The Woman in Black’ – an apparition of a young woman dressed all in black and with a faintly Victorian air about her. This woman seemed to be particularly hostile towards the husband, and he was subject to beatings, being thrown over the banisters and knocked down the stairs. The entity took strong objection to certain items left in the house by the clergy and concerned neighbours. These included candles that had been blessed, rosaries and crucifixes.

After some of the more physically violent episodes, it became necessary for John S. and his wife to have protection from stout-hearted friends on a twenty-four hour basis until they quit the house. The apparition resisted any attempt to remove her, despite clerical intervention and a vigil being kept in the street by their Catholic neighbours. Mass was said in the house, and the celebrant himself could vouch for the sense of a hostile presence. Some of the neighbours began to fear for the sanctity of their own homes, as the disturbances began to spill over to neighbours on either side. The family’s belongings that remained in the house were frequently broken and destroyed.

It was imperative that the children be removed from this scene of violence, and in fact it would be difficult to assess how much trauma was suffered by them, not only from the psycho-kinetic energy expended but from the loss of their own home and separation, however temporary, from their parents. Several paranormalists investigated the site, but no conclusions were drawn. Even when the furore had died down and the house lay vacant, there was no guarantee that the manifestations had ceased. Understandably, it was some time before a tenant could be found to take on such a notorious dwelling. It may be that the phenomenon was linked only to the family of John S., as does occur in cases of this kind, and there seemed to be no history of disturbance before the family went to live in the house. Presumably, only time will tell if ‘The Woman in Black’ was a one-off event.


Pp. 115-116, Mysterious Ireland, Sheila St Clair, 1994, Robert Hale Ltd, London
So by 1994, there's less emphasis on RSPK energy and more of an emphasis on the manifestation of the female figure (here described as 'Victorian', though in the 1989 television interview described as '1930s').

Doubtless, this could be down to narrative purposes for the book, or, as mentioned above, a certain caution to remain 'professional' and scientific when in the public sphere but able to range more freely in her own writing.

Again, the case notes might give more insight about what she really thought was going on at No. 91.
 

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Not trendy talking about spirits/ghosts/hauntings at SPR. It's not scientific. You can be frowned at from under very bushy eyebrows.
Don't I just know it.

:pipe:

But that's a very good point - whether Mrs St Clair felt it incumbent on her as an SPR member to come up with a scientific, non-ghosty explanation of how a vaguely-defined 'natural energy' was causing people to be thrown down staircases, which may or may not have chimed with her private view of what was happening in Beechmount that summer.

I know from my membership pack that the SPR is quite cagey about members claiming to be speaking on behalf of the organisation - as they state:

Membership does not imply acceptance of any particular opinion concerning the nature or reality of the phenomena examined. The SPR holds no corporate view, and members hold a range of perspectives.

https://www.spr.ac.uk/about/membership
 

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It's also useful to get a fix on the house in question - going by the Ivan Little outside broadcast, it seems that the Sean Patrick Allen photo I found online does indeed show the same terrace of houses that included No. 91.

Beechmount_Grove_1990s_Sean_Patrick_Allen.jpg


Number_91_ UTV_News_Ivan_Little_91_Beechmount_Grove_08_June_1989.png


I think that the entrance to No. 91 is the open door at the top of the short flight of steps, just beside the reporter's shoulder.

The same doorway's just been cropped out of shot in the black and white Allen image.
 

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Information on exactly where No. 91 Beechmount Grove once stood has also proved a bit tricksy.

I'd mentioned upthread that Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland's historic mapping for the Upper Falls area only shows an undeveloped space marked as a 'clay pit' on their maps up until the 1960s - and then jumps to show the current modern housing estate, built in the 2000s.

There doesn't seem to be any official online mapping resources outlining the Beechmount area between 1970 and 2000, when those houses and streets referenced in the book were standing. From descriptions and photographs I've turned up, the Beechmount area was very different at the time Number 91 was written.

A little while back, I managed to find a tatty paper map published as part of the Belfast Urban Area Plan 2001. This uses OSNI mapping from 1990, and - after a fashion - shows the Beechmount Pass and Beechmount Grove areas as they were while the Skillens lived there.

IMG_20220224_153619.jpg

The map shows the Belfast area at 1:25,000 scale, so unfortunately it's all quite tiny and is covered with hand-drawn mark-ups for planning zones and the like.

IMG_20220224_153647.jpg


Yep, it's tiny - probably about a square centimetre. But this seems to be the best I can get right now, to gain a sense of the original layout of Beechmount Grove.

IMG_20220224_153647~2.jpg


The older parts of Beechmount - the inter-war terraces of Beechmount Street and Beechmount Avenue - seem to incorporate the 1957 OSNI Historic Mapping, and then there's some slightly cruder later additions that show the 1970s roads and buildings that formed Beechmount Grove and Beechmount Pass, as built on the site of the old clay pits.

I'm still not sure which terrace shown on the map correlates with No. 91 - not helped by the fact that much of the development consisted of narrow, pedestrianised walkways with houses branching off them, which must have made giving directions a nightmare - but hopefully I'll manage to use some other old photos I've found of the area to triangulate a likely position of the Skillens' house.

A better, clearer map to a smaller scale might help - but I have it on good authority that OSNI sent a number of their original maps overseas for digital scanning in the 2000s - and they somehow went missing. It's possible the 1990 map was one of them, hence not being included on the historic mapping area on their website. So this may be the best I'll get...
 

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I'm like a dog with a bone on this one. Apologies.

I know I'm unlikely to ever do much with this information, so I may as well just throw it all out here and if anyone else ever wants to pick up the pieces, then crack on.

It seems that there were buildings on the site of Beechmount Grove before the 1970s-era Housing Executive development came along. They're not marked on any of the historical OSNI mapping I can find, but I've dug up a couple of aerial snaps, believed to be from the 1950s/60s.
Beechmount Area - c. late 1960s.jpg
Up at the top, it's possible to see the older, early C20th terraced housing on Beechmount Drive (labelled) and Beechmount Avenue, up to the bakery building around the top centre - and then there's a network of low-rise buildings beyond, to the left.

Beechmount Pass is labelled, and I believe the street parallel to that (to the back of the bakery) may have been Beechmount Grove.

These look a bit like single-storey post-war pre-fab buildings - probably similar to the ones shown more clearly at the bottom right of the pic.

Odd that they're not on the 1957 OSNI map, though.

Kennedy's Bakery, Beechmount Ave, c.1960.jpg

The Beechmount prefabs can be seen better in this aerial snap taken from the opposite side from the one above, showing Kennedy's Bakery more clearly.

Given that there appear to be a couple of Austin Minis parked along Beechmount Avenue in the foreground, this pic couldn't have been taken any earlier than 1959.

The residential street to the bottom right appears to correlate with the later Beechmount Grove - in this picture dating from the late 1980s (probably), you can just about see what used to be the edge of the bakery building on the far left.

Beechmount Grove, junction with Beechmount Walk,1980s.jpg


So it's likely that those residents living in the prefabs were probably re-housed in the later 1970s Beechmount development, so of course would remember the earlier buildings on the same site.

That ties in with Mrs St Clair's understanding that No. 91 was "built on the site of older buildings".

A clear map of the area around 1960, and another from around 1990, would be handy.

I'll keep looking.
 

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Some more archive stuff turned up on the BBC Rewind site to do with Beechmount - nothing much to do with Number 91, but potentially some interesting background. I can't embed the media links to play on the forum, but here's some stills and a link to the clips.

It seems that the post-war prefabs, known locally as 'the Bungalows', were in the process of demolition by the late 1960s - this short clip, showing Travellers in the Beechmount area, dates from July 1969.

Beechmount_Bungalow_Clearance_1969_BBC_Archive.jpg


https://bbcrewind.co.uk/asset/5acb67d0dae8bd001aa0c2d4


Then, on the site of the Bungalows, a series of temporary 'Shelter Homes' were constructed, as emergency dwellings to house people displaced from their homes by the first wave of Troubles violence. This clip shows the first set of keys being handed over to their new occupants, in December 1969.

Beechmount_Shelter_Houses_1969_BBC_Archive.jpg


https://bbcrewind.co.uk/asset/5acb755fdae8bd001aa0c6ed


However, these homes - known as 'the Chalets' by locals - were very short-lived, apparently already being cleared by August 1970.

Beechmount_Chalets_Clearance_1970_BBC_Archive.jpg


https://bbcrewind.co.uk/asset/5b0579c6d6d60700296d133a


And it appears that the 'New Buildings', as Beechmount Grove and Pass came to be known, were ready to receive their first tenants in July 1971.

Beechmount_First_Residents_BBC_Archive_Still.jpg


https://bbcrewind.co.uk/asset/5b58b9d2f29b2d001ff10367
 
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