Nowra’s three ghosts are gearing up for their favourite event tonight – Halloween.
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With the spooky date upon us, the Shoalhaven Historical Society has unearthed some of our resident spirits.
The Nowra Courthouse, the old Grace Bros and the Bridge Tavern all lay claim to their own ghost.
Since 1932 the Nowra Courthouse has had a series of hauntings. A registrar of the Court of Petty Sessions died in a room on the eastern side of the building.
‘Les’ the ghost is said to take offence to people working outside of hours and will make its presence felt by the air becoming very cold and breezy.
Another favourite annoyance of Les is turning lights on and off in the court room, magistrate’s office and judge’s chamber. Electricians never found a fault.
There was one district court judge Les didn’t like during the 1980s. Whenever the judge would enter the bathroom, Les would turn off the lights. The judge asked about getting an electrician in but no-one had the heart to tell him he just wasn’t liked by Les. There was nothing an electrician could do about that.
While the courthouse is Les’ domain, the old Grace Bros building is Claude’s turf.
It’s said that Claude drowned in a stream that ran under the store and his spirit never left the building.
Some incidents that point back to Claude’s mischievous ways include staff opening the doors one morning to find the previously clean floor was strewn with lolly wrappers and the walls and ceiling of the former men’s personal grooming department had shaving cream all over it. A cleaner stopped by the men’s toilet one night and saw the back of a solid man with an old farm hat on, dressed in an oilskin coat. The cleaner turned away, but when he looked back, the man had vanished.
A photograph taken out the front of the building in the 1950s shows a spirit-like blur in the foreground, which many staff were convinced was Claude.
The Bridge Tavern is said to be haunted by a man who died in one of the rooms not long after it opened.
The hotel used to be suppliers of beer to Jessie the elephant of Worths Circus when it came to town.
Soon after the man died, Jessie sat down in the middle of the Shoalhaven bridge and refused to move for her keeper. Circus hands went to the hotel and bought five gallons of beer in a two handled bathtub to give to Jessie. She drank it, but still refused to move until another six hours later. It was said Jessie was fearful of the Bridge Tavern ghost.
For many years after that, Worths Circus never played in Nowra, staying instead at Bomaderry.
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