The Beechmount Poltergeist—A Belfast Story

Quercus

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Having looked through a fair few photos of the 'New Buildings', the 1970s development in Beechmount where the Skillen family lived, I can now say with a reasonable degree of confidence that No. 91 Beechmount Grove was located where the red dot is shown on the map below:
IMG_20220224_153647~5.jpg

I know the house was demolished over twenty years ago, but still - for some reason it seemed important to know where it once stood.

I'll post up some of these photos gleaned from internet searches later - the map's helped enormously in being able to place where each one was taken.

Although so many of the New Buildings looked very alike, there's arrangements of streets that are parallel or perpendicular to each other, and that helps to orient the sightlines and build a sense of how the area once looked, back when the book was written.
 

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IbisNibs

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This is totally off topic, but looking at the image from the first video clip, at Beechmount Grove, Falls Road, I was dismayed at the complete lack of trees! It looks so bleak!

And now, back to the thread . . .
 

Quercus

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This is totally off topic, but looking at the image from the first video clip, at Beechmount Grove, Falls Road, I was dismayed at the complete lack of trees! It looks so bleak!

Going by the photos I've found during various online searches, Beechmount New Buildings in the late 1980s wasn't the most lovely of developments, no...
Beechmount area, 1980s.jpg


Beechmount Grove, 1980s - facing towards playground area.jpg


Beechmount Pass, Tullys Lane - 1970s or 80s.jpg



It appears that after the Skillen family surrendered No. 91 to the Housing Executive in late 1989, three or four families were consecutively moved in to the address but none stayed longer than a few weeks.

Eventually the house was given over to be used as a youth club, with no-one actively living there or staying overnight.

Residents seemed to have been moved out of the New Buildings from the early 1990s onwards - at which time the houses were barely twenty years old, but reportedly in poor states of repair - with the dwellings permanently bricked up as they were vacated.

Beechmount, 'The Lanes', 1990s - 'Caroline's House'.jpg


Beechmount Flats, 1994.png


Beechmount Avenue, Beechmount Grove junction - 1990s.jpg

The estate was finally levelled around 1999-2000.
Beechmount Pass, Beechmount Ave - demolition, 1990s.jpg


New Housing Executive residences were built on the former site, with the older street names retained but the street layout bearing no resemblance to what was there previously.

1658938025833.png


Modern-day Beechmount Link seems to be situated closest to where No. 91 Beechmount Grove once stood (the original Beechmount Grove seems to have encompassed a number of streets and courtyards)

1658938139021.png

There are at least a couple of trees now!
 

Quercus

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Another little bit of... something crossed my path the other week.

It may have nothing at all to do with the Beechmount Poltergeist/ Woman In Black - but since I'm still grubbing around, then reports of another haunting in the same neighborhood a few years previously, consisting of a black figure and polt-style activity, might have some relevance.

It's a fragment of a BBC Northern Ireland news piece on a reported haunting at Beechmount Leisure Centre, dating from October 1982. It's hosted on the BBC Rewind website.

As before, I'll post the link to the archive footage as well as my own transcript of the interviews.

https://bbcrewind.co.uk/asset/5de50583177e9d0027b1e308

Unfortunately the voiceover audio has been lost from the clip, so there's no introduction or scene-setting; just some silent static shots around the leisure centre, then two interviews with staff at the centre, and the news reporter wrapping up to the camera.

It's new to me - and this surprises me, as I'd have expected another known-about Beechmount haunting to have warranted a mention in either John Skillen's book, or at least in one of the very many threads about the Beechmount Grove case since started on Belfast Forums.

The fact it made the regional news - even as a fairly lightweight piece aired in the run-up to Hallowe'en - would indicate a wider awareness of the case, and the breadth of staff involved as witnesses to the strange occurrences - leisure centre staff, cleaners, security guards - implies a number of people living in the local area must have reported experiencing these phenomena, or been aware of someone they knew who had.

Sure have a watch/ read and see what you reckon.


The Beechmount Leisure Centre Ghost: Scene Around Six (BBC Northern Ireland)

Location:

Beechmount Leisure Centre, Falls Road, Belfast

Date:
Tuesday 12 October 1982

Interviewer:
Unidentified BBC News Reporter

Interviewees:
Unidentified Female Leisure Centre Worker (Witness 1);

Unidentified Female Leisure Centre Manager (Witness 2)

Duration:
3m 28s

BBC Rewind Description:
Some people believe that a ghost is haunting Beechmount Leisure Centre on the Falls Road.

BBC Rewind Notes:
Aspects of this video reflect the time it was made. This video has no commentary [Partial audio].


Transcript:

Scene 1 [00.00 – 00.04]:
Establishing shot of the exterior of Beechmount Leisure Centre (no audio)

Screenshot_20220805-103254~2.png


Scene 2 [00.05 – 00.12]: Establishing shot of a dark corridor inside the leisure centre (no audio)

Screenshot_20220805-103342~2.png


Scene 3 [00.13 – 01.20]: Head shot of Witness 1: unnamed leisure centre worker (with audio)

Screenshot_20220805-104226~2.png


W1:
Well, there wasn’t a lot happened really – em, I came into the room, I was boiling a kettle of water just over there [points], and, uh, a movement in this mirror here [points] caught my eye.

Now, I looked up and there was a shadow figure passed across the mirror. Well now, I looked here – over at this side [points] – to see what had caused that reflection in the mirror and there was nothing there, nothing at all.

So, at the time there was a lot of stories about ghosts at Beechmount Leisure Centre, so that came into my head immediately, and I just went straight out of the room – left everything – and up to the nearest person to calm me down, to reassure me, y’know [laughs], so, uh, I just left everything.

Interviewer (off camera):
You saw this shadow during the afternoon?

W1:
Yes, it must have been about three, because that’s tea break time, that’s what I was boiling the kettle for.

Interviewer (off camera):
Well, are you still a wee bit apprehensive, coming back into this room?

W1:
Yes, this room – uh, I never liked coming in here, I avoid this room, I don’t like it at all now, after that.

Interviewer (off camera):
Well, do you honestly think that this shadow – was a ghost?

W1:
Yes. Well, I – it could have been anything, really. But I do believe in ghosts, I believe there, there are such things, like, and, ah – I believe it could have been, yes.


Scene 4 [01.21 – 01.28]:
shot of a dark corridor inside the leisure centre (no audio)

Screenshot_20220805-104311~2.png


Scene 5 [01.29 – 01.34]: close-up of wall lights inside the leisure centre (no audio)

Screenshot_20220805-104346~2.png


Scene 6 [01.35 – 01.40]: shot of staircase inside the leisure centre (no audio)

Screenshot_20220805-104423~2.png


Scene 7 [01.41 – 02.59]: Head shot of Witness 2: unnamed leisure centre worker (with audio)

Screenshot_20220805-104451~3.png


W2:
Yeah, well, there’s a variety of things that would happen on a regular basis – one of the most common things is, em, if say cleaners leave a shower area, as soon as they go out, all the showers for no apparent reason come back on again. And this could happen say two or three times in, er, the one morning.

Screenshot_20220805-104529~3.png


Interviewer:
What other type of happenings have taken place?

W2:
Em, well, the security staff, now, in the evening would hear quite a lot of noise. Em, they would hear sounds as if someone in fact was in part of the building, playing, em, games. Now, when they do go to check there’s nobody there.

Er, one of the staff had a very nasty experience when, uh, a plastic waste bin sort of lifted up off the ground and – hurtled itself down the stairs. Er, that seemed to be a very frightening experience. Oh, there’s so many different tales, y’know, that the staff could – could tell you.

Interviewer (off camera):
We call them tales, but do you believe in them?

W2:
Em, now I – can’t say that I believe in them, but yet I wouldn’t say that I don’t believe them either, em –

Interviewer (off camera):
Well, can I ask you one question – would you stay here at night on your own?

W2:
No. Definitely not.


Scene 8 [03.00 – 03.28]: Close-up of Interviewer in mirror, out of focus, then zooms out

Screenshot_20220805-104648~3.png


Interviewer:
Since Beechmount Leisure Centre opened some years ago, many members of staff have consistently complained of seeing a ghost. They say they’ve seen this ‘Mr Riddle’ stalk the corridors here day and night. Of course, many other members of staff remain sceptical. But, of course, that doesn’t mean to say that ‘Mr Riddle’ doesn’t exist.

https://bbcrewind.co.uk/asset/5de50583177e9d0027b1e308
 

Quercus

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By way of backstory, I can't yet find out a great deal about the history of Beechmount Leisure Centre. Going by the architecture, it was constructed in the 1960s or 1970s, was operated by Belfast City Council, and was closed to the public in November 2008 as part of council cost-cutting measures.

The centre was situated between Ard Na Va Road and Beechview Park, in the Middle Falls area. Here's some Google Street view images of the closed building, from 2011:

Screenshot_20220805-104739~2.png

This is the front elevation, seen from Beechview Park, with the addition of security shuttering and a new roof since the 1982 footage was shot.

Screenshot_20220805-104822~2.png
This is the side and rear of the main building, seen from Ard Na Va Road.

The BBC Rewind page does show a map location for the clip, but this is incorrect - for some reason, it shows the site of the centre as further along the Upper Falls Road, towards Andersonstown, opposite City Cemetery.

The former leisure centre building was demolished sometime in 2012 – BBC News reports of calls for police to curb antisocial and criminal behaviour at the derelict centre are archived from January 2012, but by October that same year, Google Streetview from Ard Na Va Rd shows that the site had now been levelled.

Screenshot_20220805-104913~2.png

The overall site is currently occupied by Coláiste Feirste, who operate the restored leisure centre playing fields as Spórtlann na hÉireann.

Screenshot_20220805-105002~2.png

The site of the centre building is now built over with hardstanding sports pitches, visible at the north end of the site.

And it may be irrelevant - but the leisure centre was located approximately 350m from where the events of summer 1989 took place, in Beechmount Grove.

Screenshot_20220805-105056~2.png


Although there’s not a great deal of detail given in the TV report on the ‘Mr Riddle’ figure reported by leisure centre staff (or indeed whether that was a name used by staff in the building, or something the reporter just made up off-the-cuff for the purposes of the broadcast), the mixture of a dark figure, water fitments turning on spontaneously, and substantial items being picked up and thrown does have certain parallels with No. 91.

It may also be worth bearing in mind that another eyewitness in the Skillen case claimed to have seen ‘The Woman in Black’ in his own home in the Beechmount area, over a year before the situation in No. 91 began:

One of the visitors was a friend of mine from years ago, Mickey Bradley. We went to school together and I had seen him on and off through the years, but we had more or less gone in different directions.

As a child Mickey was tall and thin and he still was. He had a touch of asthma when he was a child and I think it still affected him. What he was about to tell me would give the whole situation a strange new twist.

Mickey described an incident that occurred over a year before. One night, as he and his wife were preparing for bed, his wife saw an apparition. Mickey went on to describe in detail things that made my skin prickle.

It was the woman in black, right down to the last detail!

Mickey lived only two hundred yards away from me at the time of this incident. They moved out immediately after this and Mickey was glad to hear that I was planning to go too.

Thinking over Mickey’s story made me recall a suggestion made by someone that the ground itself might be the problem, and not the actual house itself. In other words, the thing could have sprung up anywhere...

Number 91, J. Skillen, 1991, p. 47.

This development sadly isn’t picked up again later in John Skillen’s narrative – it’s yet another thread left dangling tantalisingly. Did Mickey live in the New Buildings at Beechmount too, or in one of the older interwar terraces running off Ballymurphy St between the Leisure Centre and Beechmount New Buildings?

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to learn that besides the occurrences at the Skillen residence, there now seem to have been at least two other reports within an approximate 500 metre radius of No.91 of potentially similar ‘black apparitions’ - with the reports from leisure centre staff covering both a visible 'shadow figure' as well as classic poltergeist-style activity of upturned bins and spontaneous turning on of water taps.

It’s also maybe worth mentioning that, despite a local BBC news crew covering the leisure centre story in October 1982, there seems to have been no popular memory of this event by the time of the occurrences in Beechmount Grove in June 1989 (or, not one that’s mentioned in the book, anyway). It’s also not mentioned in any of the many Belfast Forum threads that reference local ghost stories and other legends.

Of course, this frustratingly incomplete snippet of archive news proves nothing and amounts to nothing, but as I said way upthread… I’m still gathering bits and pieces of the jigsaw here. It may never all fit together, and I may never do anything more with it, but… the gathering continues, as and when fragments crop up.
 

Soul_Doubt

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Messages
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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.
What a fantastic find Quercus and you're doing God's work here.

Not to derail the topic, but in the "recommended" UTV videos there's another fascinating story about a ghost on the M1 motorway, just after it opened. I'd heard a different ghost story about the M1 after it opened before and the reporter does mention a slew of them being talked about at the start of his piece. Absolutely fascinating
 

Quercus

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What a fantastic find Quercus and you're doing God's work here.

Not to derail the topic, but in the "recommended" UTV videos there's another fascinating story about a ghost on the M1 motorway, just after it opened. I'd heard a different ghost story about the M1 after it opened before and the reporter does mention a slew of them being talked about at the start of his piece. Absolutely fascinating
Hey, thanks! It's been interesting finding that there's actually a few more tales out there with a possible link to Beechmount - who knows what else could be lurking?

Funny you should mention the M1 Ghost Story... I found that UTV clip with Charles Witherspoon interviewing William Nesbitt on his M1 experiences on the Digital Film Archive website a year or two ago, but only got around to posting it up on the Phantom Hitchhiker thread the other week:
Oh yes, and I just found this link too, on a case which I don't think has been mentioned on here before, but is a well-known legend locally - the M1 Phantom Hitchhiker.

https://digitalfilmarchive.net/media/the-m1-ghost-story-2136

That's the M1 between Belfast and Lisburn - not the M1 between London and Leeds.

Might be of interest, as I think someone had commented upthread that the thing with phantom hitchhiker tales was that they always seemed to happen to the archetypal 'friend of a friend' - never the speaker themselves.

Well, the above link's an archived local news interview with a man who claimed to have picked up a hitchhiker on the motorway one night, and who then vanished from his car moments later.

I transcribed the interview a while ago; there's a few discrepancies about dates (which seems to relate to the archive?) but it's quite interesting nonetheless.

The M1 Ghost Story

View attachment 57424

Location:
M1 Motorway, outside Belfast

Date: 1962 stated [but M1 opened July 1962, and sighting reportedly occurred on 31 December – description claims ‘two years after opening’ – so 1964/65?]

Interviewer: Charles Witherspoon (CW) – News Reporter, Ulster Television (UTV)

Interviewee: William Nesbitt (WN)

Duration: 5m 14s

DFA Description:

Restrain your hearty laughter and hear a sober tale of a ghost that hitchhikes on Northern Ireland’s new motorway.

Just two years after the opening of Northern Ireland’s first motorway legends have already begun to take root. Join Charles Witherspoon on the M1 flyover as he interviews William Nesbitt for Ulster Television news about his roadside psychic experience. This encounter with a ghostly hitchhiker is not Mr Nesbitt’s only tale of telekinesis, judge for yourself as he testifies to the viewers at home.

DFA Notes:

The M1 is Northern Ireland’s first and longest motorway. An urban myth was circulated that the straight sections of the M1 were built so that the US Air Force could use them as supplementary runways if war broke out with the Soviet Union. Plans for the motorway were announced in 1946 but work only began in 1959. The first stretch opened without ceremony on 10th July 1962. The RUC instigated a vigorous campaign to educate people on how to use the new motorway. Northern Ireland remained free for years from the 70 mph speed limit that was introduced in the UK. This material is courtesy of the UTV Archive.

View attachment 57425

Transcript:

CW (voiceover):


The M1 – Ulster’s new, or fairly new, motorway. A quick way of getting from Belfast to Lisburn and, in time to come, to the heart of our province.

CW (to camera):

But, new as it is, legends have already begun to spring up about the M1. For the past month, there has been a legend about a ghost appearing on this road. Now is that true, or is it false?

Well, Mr William Nesbitt is one of the most sensible, down-to-earth people I know, and on New Year’s Eve he was driving along this road. Now, to restrain your hearty laughter, let me tell you that Mr Nesbitt is a teetotaller.

CW (turning to WN):

Mr Nesbitt, what happened?

WN:

It was just about a quarter to twelve and I was coming down on – you can see it from here, about a quarter mile up the road – and a girl was walking on the hardcore. I pulled in knowing that she shouldn’t have been on, hoping to give her a lift. She got into the car with me. I didn’t speak to her until I got back onto the… the M-way again, and when she got in to the… or, when I spoke to her, I asked if she wanted a lift, if she wanted a telephone. She made no reply. I glanced round at her – but she wasn’t there.

CW:

Well now, you opened the door, and she got into the car?

WN:

Yes.

CW:

And you felt nothing unusual about it?

WN:

Nothing unusual, no – except the car got very cold at that stage. And remained cold, until she disappeared.

CW:

How long would you say this girl was in the car with you, altogether?

WN:

I would say approximately two to three minutes.

CW:

And what age would she be, roughly?

WN:

Between eight – late teens, early twenties. Quite an attractive looking girl she was, from what I could see – absolutely full, there was no ghostly look about her. Not transparent or anything, absolutely full.

CW:

Well, did you sense anything unusual at the time?

WN:

Not at that time, with the exception of the intense coldness in the car, at that stage.

CW:

How long did you say she was with you?

WN:

Say, about two to three minutes.

CW:

Could you see her all the time she was there?

WN:

Oh yes. Yes I could. I could even – I could even distinguish that she had on a grey-green suit and like a dark coat, while she was sitting beside me in the car.

CW:

Well, how did you know that, with the car being dark?

WN:

Well, I had the dashlight – was on, I could see from the dashlight what she had on.

CW (nodding):

Well you had no – she didn’t ask you to stop?

WN:

No, she didn’t ask me to stop; she was more walking along a road, with a view of looking around as if she – as if she knew somebody was coming, or somebody was behind, going to lift her. More the type of, say: well, if you know me, give me a lift; and if you don’t, go on ahead, type of thing. If you wish to stop, stop; if you don’t… [nod of head].

CW:

When she got into the car, did she shut the car door?

WN:

No, I shut the car door. She didn’t make any attempt to shut - to close the door, and I had to reach over and pull the door closed.

CW:

And there was no possibility during that time of her getting out of the car in a natural way?

WN:

None – none whatsoever.

CW:

How did you feel, after it?

WN:

Well, I was shocked I suppose, after it. Very much so. I - only one thing I wished, I had have had wings on the car rather than just having four wheels!

CW:

Um – have you had any other psychic experiences, at all?

WN:

Yes, one or two, which I pass no remarks on. One was in 1948 in South Africa – uh, my father appeared to me on board the ship that I was on. I learned about a week or so after that he had just passed away at that particular time; about five past midnight when he appeared; spoke; spoke back… that was one of them. Other one was on the High Donaghadee [to] Bangor Road; that can be verified by a witness. We were motoring home from Donaghadee one Sunday evening, just about half past eleven, and this friend suddenly said, “look out, there’s a man in front of the car” – but I knew it wasn’t, because I – because I’d already seen that man before.

CW:

He’d appeared to you a number of times?

WN:

He had, yes. Twice before.

CW:

So the experience doesn’t alarm you now?

WN:

Not now, not any more, no.

CW (turning back to camera):

Well, there it is. Mr Nesbitt, I think you’ll agree, is a solid, sensible man. Now, I’ve been talking to the psychic research people about this and they tell me that this form of what they call telekinesis – someone appearing – is quite common. And they have also assured me that in this kind of manifestation, there is absolutely nothing to be frightened of. These are very gentle ghosts indeed. They are not the malicious poltergeists, who bang doors and throw furniture and crockery about. So if you should be driving along the M1; you should pick anyone up; they should disappear – don’t be frightened, because there’s nothing to be frightened of.

https://digitalfilmarchive.net/media/the-m1-ghost-story-2136
I've been assembling some other accounts about 'the girl on the M1' to add to this, but had to wait until a book on order arrived - but if you've any info, I'd be very interested in hearing it!
 

Soul_Doubt

Junior Acolyte
Joined
Jun 3, 2012
Messages
54
By way of backstory, I can't yet find out a great deal about the history of Beechmount Leisure Centre. Going by the architecture, it was constructed in the 1960s or 1970s, was operated by Belfast City Council, and was closed to the public in November 2008 as part of council cost-cutting measures.

The centre was situated between Ard Na Va Road and Beechview Park, in the Middle Falls area. Here's some Google Street view images of the closed building, from 2011:

View attachment 57775
This is the front elevation, seen from Beechview Park, with the addition of security shuttering and a new roof since the 1982 footage was shot.

View attachment 57776This is the side and rear of the main building, seen from Ard Na Va Road.

The BBC Rewind page does show a map location for the clip, but this is incorrect - for some reason, it shows the site of the centre as further along the Upper Falls Road, towards Andersonstown, opposite City Cemetery.

The former leisure centre building was demolished sometime in 2012 – BBC News reports of calls for police to curb antisocial and criminal behaviour at the derelict centre are archived from January 2012, but by October that same year, Google Streetview from Ard Na Va Rd shows that the site had now been levelled.

View attachment 57778
The overall site is currently occupied by Coláiste Feirste, who operate the restored leisure centre playing fields as Spórtlann na hÉireann.

View attachment 57779
The site of the centre building is now built over with hardstanding sports pitches, visible at the north end of the site.

And it may be irrelevant - but the leisure centre was located approximately 350m from where the events of summer 1989 took place, in Beechmount Grove.

View attachment 57781

Although there’s not a great deal of detail given in the TV report on the ‘Mr Riddle’ figure reported by leisure centre staff (or indeed whether that was a name used by staff in the building, or something the reporter just made up off-the-cuff for the purposes of the broadcast), the mixture of a dark figure, water fitments turning on spontaneously, and substantial items being picked up and thrown does have certain parallels with No. 91.

It may also be worth bearing in mind that another eyewitness in the Skillen case claimed to have seen ‘The Woman in Black’ in his own home in the Beechmount area, over a year before the situation in No. 91 began:



This development sadly isn’t picked up again later in John Skillen’s narrative – it’s yet another thread left dangling tantalisingly. Did Mickey live in the New Buildings at Beechmount too, or in one of the older interwar terraces running off Ballymurphy St between the Leisure Centre and Beechmount New Buildings?

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to learn that besides the occurrences at the Skillen residence, there now seem to have been at least two other reports within an approximate 500 metre radius of No.91 of potentially similar ‘black apparitions’ - with the reports from leisure centre staff covering both a visible 'shadow figure' as well as classic poltergeist-style activity of upturned bins and spontaneous turning on of water taps.

It’s also maybe worth mentioning that, despite a local BBC news crew covering the leisure centre story in October 1982, there seems to have been no popular memory of this event by the time of the occurrences in Beechmount Grove in June 1989 (or, not one that’s mentioned in the book, anyway). It’s also not mentioned in any of the many Belfast Forum threads that reference local ghost stories and other legends.

Of course, this frustratingly incomplete snippet of archive news proves nothing and amounts to nothing, but as I said way upthread… I’m still gathering bits and pieces of the jigsaw here. It may never all fit together, and I may never do anything more with it, but… the gathering continues, as and when fragments crop up.
OK I've done a bit more digging on this "Mr Riddle" character.

Reply #27 in This thread states that the field Beechmount Leisure Centre was built on was called "Riddle's Field".

This article states that an old hostel beside Beechmount Leisure Centre was "originally the home of the Riddle Landlords".

This article states that Samuel Riddle, a jeweller from Beechmount Mansion declared in the deeds to the property that the mansion should never "fall into Papist hands" (it later became a convent). It's a long article, you'll have to search for "Riddle".

Lastly, one of the Directors for this company, "The Beechmount Trust Ltd", has a surname of Riddle. Though based in Downpatrick, there is no "Beechmount" in Downpatrick as far as I'm aware, just the one in Belfast. Still, might be a coincidence. It seems to be a religious organisation of some kind.

If you Google things like Riddles Field Belfast etc you'll find stories of Fairy Rings, suicides etc.

So it appears that "Mr Riddle" was based on a real historical person at least.
 
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