Sister Slipper and other spooky tales

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 09:41 24/06/2011
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Ghostly vision: The old Fever Hospital in Mt Victoria.

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The Wellingtonian

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Wellington is well-known for its heritage, but in some places too much of the past has been left behind. Laura Walters begins a series looking at some of Wellington's most notoriously haunted buildings.

At the top of Mt Victoria, the old Fever Hospital watches over the city from behind ancient trees.

A long shadowy driveway leads past the old brick morgue to the towering infirmary.

Even the most sceptical could be forgiven for feeling a little bit uneasy when visiting after dusk.

The old hospital, built in 1919 as an isolated place for patients with infectious diseases, has an eerie feel.

And some locals believe there could be more to it than just an uneasy feeling.The hospital was closed in 1981 but some say there were patients and nurses who never left.

Students and teachers who spent time in the old building when it became part of Wellington Polytechnic in 1987, tell stories of Sister Slippers  the ghost of a nurse who shuffles through the wards in her slippers after dark.

When Paul Dyne began teaching music at the jazz school (formerly the Fever Hospital) in 1989, he had already heard rumours the building was haunted. Mr Mr Dyne said he was yet to be convinced ghosts exist. But one night when he saw someone looking out a window in the old nurses' house, he shot off in his car and did not look back.

He later learned someone was squatting in the building. People let their imaginations take over, he said.

On another occasion, someone said they saw a woman in a dressing gown disappear around a corner. ``But I never saw anything,''  Mr Dyne said.

There were always noises in the building, he said, but he put that down to possums scuttling around the roof.

The knowledge that many people died at the hospital could lead to uneasy feelings, he said.

Fellow music teacher Norman Meehan said the place was ``quite enchanted''.

The old Queen Anne-style brick-and-timber building surrounded by trees is picturesque during the day, but ghostly at night.

``There is probably a spiritual world out there, but I don't think the Fever Hospital is a portal to that world,'' Mr Meehan said.

Former head of music Flora Edwards said the music students enjoyed being up there   during the day.

``When the trumpets and the jazzos were going it couldn't be further from your mind,'' she said.

But when Ms Edwards locked the gate next to the old morgue late at night, she felt jittery and uneasy.

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``Naturally I was always on the lookout. It's a spooky place.''

She conceded she was very open to suggestion.

 ``As a singer, I have a great imagination.''

She was glad when classes stopped being held at the old hospital, but now appreciated the dead possums in the roof were probably more of a real risk than Sister Slippers.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said it was not hard for people to conjure up ideas.

``It's been empty for so long it fits with that classic kind of haunted house feeling,'' he said.

The old building was used as a hospital on and off up until the 1980s. After that the land reverted back to the town belt.

The building was abandoned, but the SPCA was looking to move there, Mr MacLean said.

Maybe the animals' sixth sense will help Wellingtonians decide if the ghostly rumours are true.

- The Wellingtonian

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