The ABC / Reel Cinema

Investigated on November 17th, 2007.

Moon Phase: 1st Quarter. Weather Start: Dry but cloudy. Weather End: Heavy rain.
Due point: 5°C. Barometer Pressure Start: 1008mb

After the old Theatre Royal was demolished in the late 1930's, the ABC / Reel Cinema was born. Since then it has lived on and, today, is one of Plymouths oldest buildings. What will happen when Hidden Realms spends the night in this amazing building...?

Our research into the building is not bringing up many facts and details about the building, but a little about its history is out there. Originally the 'Theatre Royal' stood there until 1937 when, according to this site, the theatre was demolished to make way for the cinema that currently stands there. The group were told that the reason that the theatre was demolished was due to a devastating fire but currently nothing can be found to back this up. In 1938 the ABC cinema was built on its spot and was equipped with a Compton cinema organ typical of the times in Screen 1 for playing during the old silent movies. This organ was eventually sold off to Blackheath Halls in South London who were looking for such an organ, and were surprised to see that the original Plymouth one, despite laying dormant for a number of years, was still just about playable. The organ player, Dudley Savage, played the organ from a few months since the cinema was opened up to 1976 when the cinema was closed and part of it was converted into a bingo hall.

The ABC cinema was one of the very few buildings that survived the numerous German air raids that destroyed much of the city and is one of the oldest surviving buildings of Plymouth.

Another part of Plymouth's history that is seldom recorded is just how many people are buried underneath the city. Original research for an earlier vigil at the ABC prompted Dennis to contact the reference library in Plymouth. They provided him with a photocopied document that showed an amazing amount of burial grounds in Plymouth. For example, there were at least three within a very small area of the ABC cinema. While the military hospitals had their own, there was a separate one for prisoners of the Napoleonic War as well. When Dennis had reason to go to Westward Television, later to become TSW, extensions and building were often delayed to human remains being uncovered while working. Colleagues there told him that finds there were very frequent. It is estimated that there are over 250,000 graves at Ford Park cemetery in Plymouth alone. a copy of this document will be appearing soon on the Hidden Realms site.


The main focus of activity seems to be in Screen 2. A woman in white has been spotted at the very back of the screenroom and occasionally a lady has been seen sat in a particular seat down on the front row particularly during horror films, but when people have gone to look at her again, or when the film is finishing she is nowhere to be seen.


When people have sat on the seat that this lady is supposed to sit on down on the front row they've sometimes said that they've felt uneasy and unwell, sometimes having to leave the screenroom. Other people have, in the past and for some reason, become physically agitated to the point of not wanting to go into Screen 2.


During a previous investigation at the cinema Mike spent the whole time with a recorder running in his pocket which recorded nothing. As the investigation was just finishing packing up for the night when Mike decided to quickly nip to the toilet before his long drive back home. His recorder had just been turned off and packed away. Whilst in there he suddenly heard this loud, clear whisper coming from the corner of the room which distinctly said 'Favourite'. This is, to date, one of the only experiences that Mike has had that he currently cannot explain.


People have reported feelings of being watched and a general feeling of unease in the ladies toilets.


Previous investigations at the building have given fruitful results. You can see what investigative group Magic2K encounted at their website by going to and searching for 'ABC Cinema'.

Equipment We Used
The group used the following equipment during our investigation:

An initial walk around to each particular hotspot within the cinema - Screen 1 (Bottom and top), Screen 2 (Bottom and top), Screen 3, the gents and the ladies - with the EMF detector.


A Digital Audio Recorder was carried around by Mike and was used in each room when questions were asked out aloud in the hope that a then-inaudible response would be recorded and audible during playback.


The Cross Trigger Object experiment was set up in Screen 2 down on the front row seat where the lady has been seen sat and where people have sat and felt uneasy and unwell.

Mediumship Investigation Results

The following are the write-ups from each sensitive of the group.

Screen 1
A very gentle energy possibly two. I felt as if it was a male energy but was so soft and gentle it could almost have been female. It was a lovely warm energy. No names or anything like that. Just a warm feeling and general acceptance and happiness.

Screen 2
Picked up on four energies. I felt that two were just replays. One being a woman in a long light coloured dress. She was walking from one end of the cinema to the other. It felt like when she was there it was a theatre though.

And one being a male energy that was simply moving from seat to seat. And then back again. Nothing more, nothing less!! Just moving seats constantly.

The two active energies were... A male energy at the front of the screen that was very angry. I felt as if he had some kind of sharp or pointy object in his hand. And he would thurst it towards you if you came near. Almost in self defense but also just to be a b---rd. He was a scruffy man with quite a lot of hair. I got a 'J' name with him. But nothing more than J. I felt that it was no more than four letters long. Maybe Joe, Jack, John. Something short. He always felt as if he was behind you waiting to pounce. Very powerful energy. I also felt something to do with a strangulation and a big rope. I didn't see any marks on his neck but there was definatley a rope visable to me.

A male energy at the back of the cinema. The only thing I got was that he again was not happy about something. I got no name and no communication with this man. However he did storm in between Kim and me and come very close to our faces with anger. At this point we both stepped back at the same time which was strange.

Screen 3
Didn't visit

Felt there was a male energy there that was dressed in a black suit. He was stood upright with a very proud look on his face. The only way I could describe it was that he had his own business or property there. He was just so proud of it. He just stood there and grinned with pride.


On the staircase had to sit down as a strong energy seemed to hang about me. It was male and gave his name as George. He was very agitated and rushing backward and forward as if lost or looking for something. He said that he had lost his wife and children and was looking all over for them. It was as though he had stopped me to ask if I had seen them and made me sit down. He just couldn’t find them anywhere.

I then felt a tremendous blast in front of me and severe pins and needles down the front of my body. This ‘blast’ hit me straight on as if like an ‘aftershock’ but down the front of my body and not from the top of me and I felt like I had been lifted from the ground and thrown backwards. My face and body just felt numb and I then realised that I was feeling what ‘George’ had been feeling. I had a horrible thought that he did not realise that he was dead and that he was caught in a loop looking for his family.

This was confirmed when I was given the image of the lady and two children stood huddled together at what looked like a graveside.

Screen 2
At the end of the night the group formed a circle down near the screen end of the room. I became aware of a man who was on the outside of the circle and who felt like a disruptive character. His name began with J. I asked him to come into the circle. At this point I also became aware that the backs of my legs had become extremely cold. The male did not seem to want to enter the circle and he was making the group feel very uneasy and so I asked the group to reverse the circle and face outwards. On doing this the group felt more comfortable. The coldness was now clinging to the fronts of my legs. I knew that I had experienced this once before at Pengersick Castle and at that time I became aware that it was a child and I feel that this was also the case here.

We then felt that the male had moved into the circle and so we turned inwards again to face him. The ‘child’ felt like it was leaning on the backs of my legs and I became aware of a pressure pushing against my legs making me feel unsteady. I had the sensation of something around my neck which was very uncomfortable. It did not feel like hands, it felt more firmer like rope. As I considered this I was given the image of a room which was lined with men. They were all facing inwards and shouting and jeering with words like ‘thief, liar, cheat’. I became aware of a very unpleasant smell of tobacco smoke, ale and urine which was very acrid. I felt that at that moment I was feeling what this male had felt. I also felt that I knew the child which was a small boy. It was my son. Unfortunately I got the impression that this child was often treat like an animal, uncared for, but he was watching his father being lynched by a mob and he was terrified.

There was a scruffy man going round the room collecting money from those who were watching and putting some in a box that he was carrying and then quickly putting some in his pockets. A chair was then brought and put in front of the male presence (J) and he was forced to stand on top of it. The rope was thrown over a beam and two men held it, pulling hard and laughing. They wanted to make him suffer slowly. As they pulled the rope I felt my vision blurring, almost like blood rush when you are about to pass out. I think that this may have been the point that the male passed over. It was some seconds after this that my legs began to warm up again and I was able to move them.


Screen 1
Didnt sense anything in here really, just saw what was probably a memory, it was of a victorian dressed gentleman and lady moving down the right hand side of room towards the screen.

Screen 2
At the rear of the room I sensed a man, thickset, light brown hair and in shirt sleeves. Didn't really have any communication with him but he seemed angry/annoyed. He seemed to pass between Pete and myself while we were standing there, you could feel the annoyance as he passed. Both Pete and myself felt the spirit pass by. The only names that came to me were Roach. Marcus Jack. Dates/n.o's were 1806 and 194. At the front by the fire exit I sensed a very angry, threatening, horrible man, he seemed intent on not letting us be there, he kept circling around us quite close at times. I saw him as a man with black hair and quite strong.

Screen 3
It just felt ok in there, nothing sensed.

Just sensed name Sandra 1994.

Prior to this visit I attended the cimema before. The things I sensed then were In screen 2: the angry man I mentioned above, it was as though I was seeing something I should'nt, there was a sense of something illegal going on, bare knuckle fighting and cock fighting were shown, money and gambling was sensed also a killing (I dont know if the man killed or was killed) and the man was trying to intimidate /scare me because I shouldn't have seen what was happening. The room he was in felt it was beyond the screen, it wasn't a cinema or theatre it was earlier. The floor of the room had something that looked like bits of hay and sawdust down, the walls were beamed. The man felt connected to the sea. In the ladies toilet I sensed that a suicide had occured, unfortunately I had no names or dates given to me.I do not think the name I sensed (as wrote above) during the 2nd visit to cinema was connected to this incident.


Screen 2
I was given a picture frame, about 2ft 6 across, with a seated lady taking the centre. She was dressed in a style reminiscent of WW-2 period. Her hair was parted in the centre, and tied at the back, with a pretty smiling face. The dress was cream or white, and came from mid shoulder in to a tight bodice. The dress then flared out in to a full floor length skirt. I then saw the same lady moving across a lawn, with other people in the background.

I also saw Chris completely enveloped in a purple cloud, during the circle experience in Screen 2. I saw this as a protective and healing force for Chris as she was directly involved in the re-enactment.

Unforunately because of the lack of history at our disposal, being able to tie in what was sensed with what is known as fact is very difficult to do. This is of course not suggesting that what's been said above isn't true, there's just no way to verify it. The other way to validate what is being picked up on is with what results other groups have gathered at the ABC and what ghostly stories are out there connected to the place. With this, trends can be picked out.

Pete speaks of picking up on 'a woman in a long, light coloured dress' and that 'she was walking from one end of the cinema to the other'. Betty also picked up on a woman wearing a 'cream or white' dress. Could this be the lady in white that has been spotted in Screen room 2? If she's walking from one side of the seating area to the other could she also be the lady seen sat on the front row?

Both Kim and Pete picked up on an angry, male energy in Screenroom 2 Pete describes him as being a scruffy man with quite a lot of hair and Kim says that he had black hair and looked quite strong. The name Jack was given as a possible name from both Kim and Pete as to who this person may have been but only Pete spoke of the guy having a sharp, stabbing implement.

Both Pete and Chris spoke of this scruffy man with the name beginning with J and furthered that he was connected with ropes and strangulation - Chris adding to this by saying it felt like he was the victim of a lynch mob. Pete said that this guy was ready to pounce from behind and Chris said that the lynch mob she felt were chanting "Thief, cheat, liar...". At the time this scruffy 'thief' was circling the room a female member of the circle reported feeling something slip into their pocket.

What Chris was saying about this individual George who was on an apparent eternal search for this family... from reading the experience it sounds like George could have been caught in a fire whilst searching for his family and was knocked by a searing blast, killing him. This goes back to the alleged fire that brought down the Theatre Royal. Hopefully research will either confirm or deny this, and if the fire is true it'll be interesting to see if anybody died in this fire and, if so, if their name was George.

Scientific Investigation Results


Mike did an EMF baseline test throughout the three screens, in particular the 'hot spots', to see if anything would register on the EMF reader. Here are what was found:

Screen 1
At the bottom of the screenroom, along the small stairwells between the seats and the wall, and across the front where the screen is, there was a low, constant EMF reading of 0.7-0.8mg. This same reading was consistant at the back as well with no notable EMF spikes.

Screen 2
This was the room I was the most interested in because this was the main 'haunted' screenroom of the cinema. Again, an average EMF reading of around 0.4-0.8mg was recorded around the walls and screen both front and back.

There were a couple of very interesting EMF 'spikes' in Screenroom 2. At the very back of the screenroom there are a row of seats, and a number of these were being enveloped in a constant EMF reading of 1mg whilst the surroundings were at a lower 0.4mg. It's up by these seats that the lady in white is supposed to be seen.

The other, more interesting EMF spike was found down at the front of the cinema. The seat in question is on the very front row, seat 2 and it was this particular seat that people say they see the lady sitting at before disappearing soon after. People who have sat in this particular seat have also spoken of feelings of distress, unease, nausea and so forth. Around seat 2 and mostly seat 3 just opposite the fire escape there was a very large EMF spike registering up to 4-5mg around this one particular seat. This is a particularly strong reading and is odd to appear in such a localised spot in an open area. My guess is that there is a plug socket or cable running directly underneath that has not been shielded. But, whatever the reason, such a prolonged exposure to such a high EMF level could very well bring on the feelings of unease, nausea etc that people have experienced in the past from sitting there.

Screen 3
The smallest screenroom had a low but constant EMF reading around the walls and screen without any spikes, giving a constant reading of approximately 0.7-0.8mg with it dipping to about half in the middle.

The Gents
Nothing really worth noting in the gents. The EMF stayed pretty constant throughout at around 0.6mg.

The Ladies
There was an EMF emission around the mirrors in the ladies toilets that registered at around 0.6mg. The rest of the toilets had hardly anything. However, there was a slight EMF spike around the cubicles where a constant reading of around 1mg was recorded in each. My guess is that there's a power lead running behind in the wall that may be improperly shielded.


The cinema as a whole was pretty stuffy and warm with a sickly sweet smell from the popcorn and confectionary in the area. This, and breathing with a large number of other people in a confined, closed area could explain why people have reported feeling dizzy and unwell. Due to its size, I would have assumed that Screenroom 3 would have created this sensation, but the only room where people complain of such a feeling is Screenroom 2.


Mike experienced something quite interesting in Screenroom 1. He had sat down with his digital recorder and asked questions. After this he then asked out to any spirit in the room if they could make the room colder (because it was very warm in there!). Very soon after, just under my elbow on my underarm I felt a small, localised patch of cold. No breeze could have caused such a small area to be chilled and a breeze check during the preliminaries ruled breeze potential out. After this, I asked if they could touch my hair and all of the hairs on my neck rose. It felt very pecular.


The Cross Trigger Object failed to move.

Captured Phenomena

A couple of interesting photos and an EVP - one of our clearest to date - were captured during this investigation.

This following photo was taken near the end of the investigation. Okay, so it's an 'orb', but it displays none of the characteristics that all of the other orbs photographed possess. Also, this photo has NOT been enhanced in any way (except, obviously, for the original-sized variation pasted onto the shrunk image). Have a look...

Here's a close-up comparison between this and the brightest un-enhanced orb photographed in Screenroom 1.

On the left here is a slightly enhanced enlargement of this light to help bring out the colours a little more. What makes this different from the other lights is that it is not flat, lifeless and colourless but rather full, almost 3D in appearence and contains yellows, blues, greens and purples. I've never seen such a spectrum of colours on an orb before, including orbs created by rain.

If only this orb had a casting shadow behind it! that way its size and distance from the camera could have easily been calculated.

The EVP that was captured was recorded in Screenroom 3 - the smallest one that the other group members said they felt nothing in. Mike was asking clear questions and then leaving a period of 10 seconds silence afterwards to see if anything was recorded. This was done under crudely controlled conditions where the questions were not mumbled, nothing was said before or after each question and if any audible sounds were heard during the silence the question was scrapped and re-asked.

In this example Mike asked the question "Are there any other spirits with you in the room? What're their names?" A fraction of a second after he asked this question you can hear a clear voice saying something. Now, interpretation is slight on this one, but pretty much all the people asked have heard the name Harry.

Some very interesting information came out of this investigation on both the mediumistic and the scientific areas. The location certainly needs more research into the place and hopefully this will verify more of the mediums results.

On a scientific point of view the investigation was very interesting for it's given quite a bit to think about - namely the EVP that was recorded. The photos were pretty interesting but too open to interpretation, but that voice saying 'Harry' was not heard when the questions were being asked. The EMF tests also showed some very interesting results, especially around the front row seat number 2 where people have sensed things in the past. Could this be a case of 'mystery solved' where that's concerned?

The group had a brilliant time investigating this wonderful cinema. Thanks so much to everybody who helped and hopefully we can come back again soon!