Film of Royal National Hospital, Ventnor, just discovered
The hospital has been gone for almost half a century...the ghosts however, are still very much in evidence at this site which is one of the most haunted locations on Ghostisland - the Isle of Wight, as this extract from 'More Ghosts' (Book 2), will show. Watch the film and then read about a few of the ghosts......... The hospital features in several of the Ghostisland books.
THE HAUNTED HOSPITAL
For nearly 100 years the Royal National Hospital at Ventnor fought the good fight - and a long, hard fight it was - against tuberculosis. Today the killer has largely been conquered, but during the hospital's century of service some 100,000 victims of the disease sought new hope in a grey, balconied Victorian building set in lawns, woodlands and winding walks overlooking the English Channel. Many patients there were cured and discharged. Others did not leave alive. And a few, it would seem, never left at all. Their spirits remain to this day.
With the development of new drugs the old hospital, in its day among the finest in Europe numbering Queen Victoria and King Edward VII among its patrons, was itself doomed. Intimations of its mortality were first received in 1958. By 1960 the Ministry of Health announced that it would definitely close and in May 1964, its doors were padlocked. As a local landmark and very much a part of Island life, the RNH would surely have a new future, reasoned Island residents. They were wrong.
Plans became projects and then dwindled as hopes were dashed. The splendid old place would have a fresh life as a convalescent home, a school, a teachers' training college, a police cadet college. The suggestions came and went. It could be converted into flats, a holiday camp, a factory. Eventually a far-sighted Ventnor Urban District Council purchased the 33-acre site from the Ministry to turn it into botanical gardens.
Over the four years that had passed since its closure, the hospital had been left to the ravages of weather and vandals. Dilapidated and unsafe, it would have to go. Gosport demolition contractors Treloar and Sons were called in. On a sunny day in June 1969, the first bricks fell - and out of the dust came a ghost story which spread far beyond the Island.
The end of the summer brought the first headlines. "Hospital End Makes Spirit Move?" inquired the Southern Evening Echo. "Demolition Man Sees Ghost," announced the Isle of Wight Mercury. From that September until the end of the year what really happened at the Royal National Hospital was a talking point not only on the Island, but around the globe. Ventnor, UK, made world news.
Stephen Kevern, then aged 17 and living in Ocean View Road, Ventnor, was one of the demolition men. At work in what had been the operating theatre, he found himself being watched by a "white-grey image" resembling a doctor in a hospital coat. Peter Henderson, then 19, of York Road, Upper Ventnor, twice heard the sound of a child's moans while working above the former X-ray room. Cliff Farmer, from Bonchurch, another 19-year-old, was with Peter when they both heard screams coming from a room next to the operating theatre. Tom Bryan, clerk to the local council surveyor, was reported as feeling a strange presence in the same area of the building. He told the Southern Evening Echo: "I turned to look but there was no-one there....All I can say is that I had the definite feeling that I was being watched."
No operation had been carried out in the RNH for ten years, the theatre had long been stripped of equipment and with its glass roof gone, it lay open to the elements. Yet a number of people smelled ether and the smell persisted. Mr R.Bodenham, the site agent, with 17 years in demolition work and well aware of the tricks atmosphere can play on imagination in a deserted building, summed it up. "There are things about that hospital which defy rational explanation."