The Case of the Haunted Fun Fair Part 3: being in the main a consideration of the South West London Paranormal group’s report on their investigation of Thorpe Park

Well I have been quite interested in the recent and 2009 events at Thorpe Park, so it’s about time to engage with the report of the investigators themselves. Firstly, I must say it’s REALLY nice to see a group that actually makes their findings publicly available, and makes some effort to “publish” their research, so others can have a look and evaluate the evidence. I have for many years been moaning that most groups simply do not construct any kind or report or paperwork, and was at pains to make sure that both Parasoc and the CPRG did chronicle their findings whenever I could.  So kudos to South West London Paranormal for making their report available. The web has made this incredibly easy, and recently we are seeing more and more of it – a very good thing!

The first thing is that the report is dated 19 November 2010 –  the date of the investigation.  So there was nearly three months between the investigation, and it hitting the press – I wonder why? This will doubtless become clear later. Now, the report is quite well formatted. It begins with a short history of Thorpe Park – interesting in itself, as the area was extensively quarries apparently, and now is an island. Never knew that!

I am not going to pass judgement on the investigators or their techniques, but it is clear that they were invited in, and the three SWLP teams were each accompanied by three staff members, doubtless for insurance liability reasons, but interesting in itself as it means the staff must have been interested to go to all this trouble.  It also seems just a little incongruous, given that just 13 months before Thorpe Park were apparently suspending staff for doing Ouija boards and calling in “exorcists” – well Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe in reality — and now what equipment are the group armed with???

Equipment Used:

Ouija Board
Dowsing Rods
EMF Meter
High Sensitive Dictaphones

First item mentioned: a Ouija board! So why the change of heart at Thorpe Park, given the last time a Ouija board was used there things were not exactly good afterwards according to the 2009 press? Curious!

Now the report goes on to give the locations covered – what would have been useful here, and SWLP should try and include in future reports, is a map. I think that the teams rotated around the locations, and staged vigils as far as I can see – not at all my favourite method of running an investigation the vigil, I prefer to work during the day and conduct interviews, but I know a lot of groups like to try and “catch” the phenomena themselves —  anyway there is a nice and very clear catalogue of what was experienced.

From my years looking after ghost groups at Derby Gaol for Richard Felix, I think this would be pretty typical of any investigation of this type in the sensory modalities involved; firstly visual, almost always shadows or lights — hardly ever have I been present on a ghost hunt when someone has seen a full apparition with their eyes: in fact I can clearly recall this happening once in 1994, but it is VERY rare in my experience; then sounds, usually tapping and raps and bumps, and then footsteps, and finally and perhaps surprisingly olfactory phenomena – strange smells. It’s interesting to how similar these phenomena reported are to those I saw described many times at Derby Gaol, and that are thrown up by Becky Smith’s 2008 research on the Station Hotel, Dudley. If I had a hundred quid spare for the software I would want I might try and correlate the kinds of phenomena groups seem to experience all over the country – Becky’s current research is quite clearly focussed on spontaneous cases, and she is not looking at experiences while ghosthunting, but I think the two would be very distinct in the phenomena reported. If anyone wants to give me a small research grant I’ll pursue it! 🙂

The largest class of material given in the report appears to be impressions by their mediums, all unfortunately given as a simple list of the entity purportedly encountered: it is simply impossible to evaluate if any veridical communications were received from the rather sparse account. What struck me as interesting, given the alleged sightings of a monk, the presence of Monk’s Walk, and so forth, is the lack of references to monks!  In fact, and perhaps surprisingly, most of the alleged spirits appear recent as far as I can make out, such as the ex-employee, and so forth. It’s very hard to tell here though, but I do find that unusual – and would like to know more. In fact the only ecclesiastical spirit was a nun “picked up” on a Ouija board –and so I’m doubtful there. The spirit of the nun claimed to have been murdered in 1913: I am not aware of any missing nuns from that year, but maybe a reader is?

Also I find nothing about the burials here. What seems to be the closest is here

Outside Area (Area where new rides are being built)

Jim stopped outside and said he could feel a presence.  He explained that he felt the building work currently being done was disturbing something.  If they were to continue to dig further down they would uncover some remains, of what would have been an old settlement dating back hundreds of years. There was an unhappy feeling here, and a sense that someone wanted us to move away.

Interesting: this is the place where the Surge water ride was to be built, clearly. It was the psychic Jim’s impression here that seems to be behind the story.  There were all kinds of other things mentioned, but this one element seems to have been taken up form all the spiritualist contacts they made, or believe they made, on that night last November.

And now I begin to see the light…

Well possibly. I think, and SWLP and Thorpe Park can confirm or deny this, that events went something like this. SWLP were invited in by staff, perhaps on the strength of the 2009 story. They did an interesting little investigation, that was not widely publicised, but they wrote up.

Then, as building work on Surge continued, someone, at some point, saw a monk, or thought they did, and things got spooky. Immediately SWLP’s report sprang to mind – and at this point a geologist from Cranfield University was called, to just run a quick check of the site for evidence of the settlement reported by Jim. The settlement may exist – buy the geophys was suggestive of possibly a burial ground – disturbed earth. So the original report did not mention a burial ground, but let’s be fair, burial grounds go with settlements.

Once the geophys confirmed that there may be something of archeological merit under their, and for al I know the geophys may have been a standard site survey conducted before a new development that requires in this case 15m deep foundations, well the rescue archaeologist are probably planning to move in and have a gander. And so now the ghost story goes live, a couple of months late, and SWLP are in the press and rather pleased with their investigation I hope! 🙂

It’s been an interesting story – I’m not sure how close I have come to the true course of events, and I’m still no closer to the ghost, but I am curious.  What I really need is the missing bit of the story, between November 19th 2010 and February – when the actual ghost sightings occurred. I need to know more about those witnesses. Or were they occurring before SWLP were called in?  I’ll interview SWLP as soon as the media frenzy has died down, as I think they might give us the full story, but it is all very interesting

cj x


1 Comment

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One response to “The Case of the Haunted Fun Fair Part 3: being in the main a consideration of the South West London Paranormal group’s report on their investigation of Thorpe Park

  1. Many thanks for the comment & links on my post about this topic… I still find the infrasound hypothesis intriguing, but I agree — it seems that the case is far from proven.

    Thanks again for your response.


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