The BOADS Rehearsal Hall
Brixham

Investigated on March 5th, 2007

Although this small building is now currently owned by BOADS (Brixham Operatic And Dramatic Society) for their rehearsals, the building dates back much earlier, and history for it can be found as far back at the beginning of the 1900's. A very interesting little place to investigate with many stories to be told within its walls.

History
The rehearsal halls history is sadly quite vague. It's design does reflect that of Victorian times and originally it appears that it was a school that was kept by William Bovey. At the time that the building was purchased for Christian worship it had since been changed to a dance hall. The building was initially rented by, and then ultimately purchased by Dr. P. O'Brien, S.M. The building was altered and enlarged and then re-opened as a Catholic Church under the title of 'Our Lady Star of the Sea' in June 1926. Dr. Mulkern, S.M. preached the opening sermon there and theological students (that originally came from New Zealand) sang the Mass. In September 1926 Dr. O'Brien left and through Brixham from 1928 members of the Marist Community have held the sermons. It is not known when the building was sold off and no longer used as a church, but it appears that the building once again became a Dance Hall until the local amateur dramatics company BOADS purchased it for their rehearsals. It is also known that, at times, the church was served by priests from Buckfast Abbey.

Area Map

Ground Floor
First Floor
   
 
Basement / Workshop
 

Stories

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The main story regarding BOADS is the ghost of John Slater, the famous actor who was originally in Z Cars. BOADS was one of his big loves when he lived in the area and was heavily involved right up until he passed over in 1975. Since then his spirit is said to visit both the Theatre and the BOADS rehearsal hall. There are numerous stories of performances in the theatre where seemingly working equipment and stage curtains inexplicitly jam just before a show only for them to work absolutely fine as soon as the show has been cancelled and the audience has left.
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As mentioned above, John also visits the location we investigated, the Rehearsal hall. One story related to the group was during a rehearsal, when all of a sudden the place become cold and an atmosphere grew, and the lights in the place suddenly started dimming in a pattern like whatever was causing it was moving underneath them walking from the corner of the room to the entrance.

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

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The coin experiment was set up in the Storage room on the ground floor and a camcorder was set recording it. This room was then closed and left.
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The beam-break motion detectors were placed from just to the side of the entrance to just beside the doorway to the Storage Room on the ground floor.
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A PIR motion detector was placed up to cover the first floor storage area.
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After an initial walk around it was agreed that a locked-off camera would be set up in the workshop downstairs and focussed on a particular corner of the room that Mike and Kim both felt nauceous standing in.

Mediumship Evidence

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Kim felt that the building wasn't originally built as a church but rather had been used for other things and then became a church later. This is historically accurate since it was originally a school and then a dance hall before being bought by Father O'Brien and converted into a church.
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Both Kim and Chris picked up on the energy of children and Chris could hear chattering and dancing and felt as though dancing lessons had been held there. Kim also mentioned sensing singing men, and that the room felt light and happy. This ties in nicely with the history of the place since it was originally a school before becoming a dance hall.
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Both Kim and Chris picked up on flowers, and Chris felt that they may have been part of a special festival. Kim also felt that the name Many Nielson or Nelson were attached to them. The 1901 census does mention a Mary N Nelson who, at that time was 21 and lived in Paignton, but her occupation is listed as a laundress wash. Another Mary Nelson appears on the 1901 census. She's listed as 44 but is registered in the Plymouth parish at the time. Her listed occupation is a charwoman - a lady who is employed to do chores for her boss.
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Chris also picked up on books lying around and on shelves. Whether or not this could be a reference to when the building was a church is debatable, but could it be referring to the hymn books? Kim also picked up on books and mentioned that she sensed large books with leather type covers - a typical description for a bible.
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Also picked up on by Chris was the image of bottles being stored with coloured glass. She wondered whether or not the building had a tie with the monks of Buckfastleigh (who were famous for wine making). Again, it's historical fact that at times the church was served by priests from Buckfast Abbey. Whether or not they used the workshop area as a wine cellar is unknown.
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Chris picked up on the name of Father, but no surname and felt that this could have implied that the church was connected to Catholicis. Chris also felt that the cellar area had been used for a variety of things including the storage of bottles and a place where 'Father' spent time reading and writing, and getting ready for Mass. Although it is not known what purpose the cellar / workshop served during the buildings time as a church, it is historical fact that the church was indeed Catholic.
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A medical connection was felt by Chris and she picked up on the image of a red cross on a white background as in the medical sense. She also felt a medical connection in the workshop. Kim and Dennis also picked up on bodies being stored temporarily in the cellar with Dennis adding that he felt it may have been a transit area for the ill and wounded. This was very interesting since the building right next door to the BOADS hall is the old Brixham Hospital, now residing as flats.
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Kim felt that the doors going into the hall used to be a different shape at the top and that they should have had a more gothic arch type design. Could these gothic designs have been an original part of the building, but which were lost when it was altered and enlarged upon its purchase by Father O'Brien?
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One area that felt heavy was the back corner of the workshop / cellar. When Kim was standing there she felt really bad, tight chest pains which went away when she moved to another part of the area. Mike also stood in the area and pretty soon felt quite nauceous and had to move. Betty found that the basement as a whole felt unpleasent. It is unknown as to whether these feelings tie in with the history of the place.
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Whilst in the hall Kim sensed that there had been a terrible storm close to the harbour in the 1800's and saw shipwrecks. She felt that some of the wood from the boats was brought back to the hall and could see men trying to help the boats. Although it isn't known if such wood was indeed stored in the building, the mention of the storm was interesting. Brixham suffered a terrible storm that struck on January 10th, 1866 and resulted in over fifty vessels being wrecked and over 100 lives being lost. As morning broke wreakage stretched for nearly three miles up the coast.

Physical Evidence
Sadly, not much physical phenomena was encountered during our investigation at the BOADS hall. None of the cameras really captured anything, the trigger object did not move and the motion sensors were not triggered. A few orbs were captured on camera and appeared on the lock-off camcorder in the workshop, but since there was dust inside these areas they therefore cannot be considered as evidence.

Afterthoughts
Despite the cold and the pouring rain outside, the group felt that the building was historically interesting and really enjoyed their time there. Although we cannot label the building as 'haunted' in the typical sense (as in a spirit being grounded or trapped there), we felt that it was active in some residual energy. Because of stories relating to the place, it is believed that at least one spirit does also come to the place in visitation.

Overall it was a decent investigation and one that gave us some interesting results.


We had a lovely time at the BOADS hall, and would like to give a huge thanks to the committee who allowed us to spend the night there and to Jane and Dave who entrusted Mike with the keys to the place.