Sunday, December 3, 2023

Paranormal Investigation of the Old Strutt School

History of the Building

The Herbert Strutt School was proposed by Herbert Strutt in 1907, for the benefit of Belper and the surrounding villages and after much wrangling with local education authorities he managed to get permission to proceed. Designed by Hunter and Woodhouse, the building was completed in the spring of 1909 at a cost of £20,000. Mr W.W. Tunnicliffe was the original headmaster and remained so from 1909 until his retirement in 1936. In 1913 Herbert Strutt expanded the school facilities at a cost of £5000. The school became a primary school following a shake up in education in 1986 and it remained as a primary school until its closure in February 2007. It is now known as Strutt’s Business and Community Centre and is run by volunteers for the benefit of the community.


Poltergeist activity is often reported  around the building including slamming doors which then refuse to open, the piano playing by itself, cold spots and shadowy figures.  After visiting the premises, Andrew Elson, Haunted Company’s clairvoyant medium said, “The building has this wonderful feeling of calm, but then as you walk around you soon discover that each of the classrooms has its own spiritual energy. Some have a peaceful energy and other rooms feel full of negativity. There are also certain classrooms you would not want to be left alone in! Wandering spirits roam the halls, and the Headmasters office is another story.”


On the 12th February I will be accompanying investigation professionals and members of the Belper community to investigate the claims made for this building.  The Haunted Company will be bringing along a clairvoyant medium and they will be offering some tuition in using a number of classic investigation and communication tools ranging from dowsing to electrical equipment.

I have prior experience of many investigations of allegedly haunted properties, including many of the historical buildings in Derby and Nottingham and was briefly involved with Richard Felix’s ghost hunts when we were trying to write a book together.  As a journalist, it is my job to observe and record and you will get a full report on what is experienced on this investigation.

What to be involved?

The Haunted Company invite you to join the investigation.

“The Haunted Company team are excited to be back in Belper for a full Paranormal Investigation of the Strutt Centre. What will we discover inside this amazing old school building? Who roams the hallways, and what mischievous spirit resides in the old Headmasters office? Dare you join us?!

Help us discover more about the history and hauntings of this fantastic old school building together with Andrew Elson, our in-house clairvoyant medium, and Clare Washbrook, your very own Nailed reporter! There will be workshops throughout the night where you will learn to use our investigative equipment, from dowsing rods and pendulums to emf and voice recorders, and even take part in spirit boards and human pendulums. We will split into small groups and head off to see what we can find in the various classrooms and offices, comparing findings as we go along… It will be a very spooky and interesting night! Light buffet and hot and cold drinks included.

Don’t forget your cameras, you’ll be amazed at what you might capture!

Date: Friday 12th February 2016

Time: 8.00pm to 1.30am

Location: Strutts Center, Derby Road, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1UU

Tickets: Only £30 – Early booking recommended! Available from:

Adults only – Minimum age 18.

Light snacks and hot and cold drinks provided. Please wrap up warm and feel free to bring your own snacks if you wish.”

Clare Washbrook

Current Editor-in-Chief News and magazine editor since 1995 Post-grads: Literature; Theatre; Journalism, Ethics & Law Community Affiliations: Belper Goes Green, Belper's WW1 Poppies, Amber Valley Solidarity No political party memberships/affiliations.

7 thoughts on “Paranormal Investigation of the Old Strutt School

  • How come ghosts are often seen wearing clothes? Isn’t it their bodies that died?

  • That’s a great question! We often find spirits hang around places they were familiar with in life. Even if the building changes over time they still follow the same areas, corridors, doors etc (even if they are no longer there!) In my opinion it is the same with clothes, they didn’t wander around naked in life so why in spirit form? They stick with what is familiar or comforting… That’s what I think anyway 😉 Tanya.

  • Clare Washbrook

    There is a theory, with some science and some evidence behind it, that stone records images. Old VHS tapes and audio tapes have strong components that come from stone. So with that scientific theory in mind, I would suggest that if the images are real then clothing could be attributed to the fact that they were wearing clothes when energy imprinted upon stone/brick made from stone. If they wandered around naked a lot then we’d get naked ghosts, so we should probably bear that possibility in mind when nipping to the loo in the middle of the night.

  • Thanks for the replies! Of the two theories, I’d say I’m more inclined to the self determination of the ghosts to choose to wear clothes over the ‘stone memory’, which feels pseudo-science at best. Does VHS use components that come from stone, well sort of in that VHS and most audio tape before used iron oxide to do the recording magic thanks to magnet shenanigans. Iron is found within iron ore, but it isn’t stone (and the we don’t build from iron ore, because, well it’s more valuable for it’s iron). And if the stone is the recording medium, what is the recording device (some sort of energy) and what is the playback device? Our imagination? But I digress.

    I think my issue with the self determination is, if ghosts have the ability to determine that they won’t haunt the world without clothing, why are they all pretty much without fail, such miserable characters? You’d think they would be in a brilliant position to explain things to the world, what happens when you die, what the after life is like, why they are left haunting and not moving on elsewhere like the vast majority of the dead? Rather than that they seem to concentrate on making places cold and slamming doors. The gits.

    Clearly I’m a skeptic, my biggest issue is the charlatanic nature of those who profit from this kind of thing, but if folks want to spend £30, who am I to judge, you spend £15 these days watching a scary movie at the cinema.

  • There is definitely lots of thought about imprinting Clare, you are quite right. And it has been know that spirits can often travel with items, such as lockets or tables and are not always associated with the building or area they are found in but rather the item within. It is well documented that items are believed to be haunted, such as dolls and pictures. All in all more questions than answers which is why we continue to investigate!

    As for self determination, it’s my belief that it’s not necessarily a choice (Like ‘I’ll wear my favourite pj’s when I come back to haunt!) but more an unconscious occurrence. And I do believe that many spirits are trying to tell us something, unfortunately it’s not that easy to communicate unless you have a specific gift, and that’s another story entirely. Most recorded ‘contact’ seems to lead us to believe the spirits we discover are stuck in their own time, so how do they even know they dead?

    As for charlatans, you will be pleased to know Kieran that the majority of the money earned goes back into the venues we visit, particularly those who need the support of groups using their venues in order to support their upkeep and keep them open for their communities. Most paranormal investigation groups do this for the love of all things paranormal (and the fun, we have lots of that!) and the majority of these are made up of volunteers who just love what they do. To be able to give back to a community or support a building/venue is an added bonus!

  • Gareth Edwards

    I was a pupil there from 1951 to 1958. I was never aware of ghosts then. Since revisiting the building as the Strutts centre I saw shadows of events long past but put it down to tricks of the memory triggered by seeing those familiar places once again. I would be interested to know whether any ghost has been seen and if so could it be identified. I very much regret not being there for the ghost hunt of 2016.

  • Mick Walker

    I was a pupil of HSGS from 1951 to 1954 when we left Belper. At no time did I `see` or `feel` any paranormal presence nor indeed, did I ever hear any mention of the Supernatural from either fellow pupils or staff.Having said that I`m slightly more inclined to believe than disbelieve in psychic phenomena but have had no direct experience.
    I did however have a bizarre indirect experience in the early 1980`s when I was about 7000ft underground on a South African gold mine having a “Where were you before? ” chat with another employee I didn`t know very well. Turned out we`d both worked on copper mines in Zambia many years before. I mentioned that my 1st wife had died tragically at age 28 in the Mining company hospital after an operation. He then mentioned that his wife had a weird experience in same hospital when recovering from an operation. She saw a fully dressed young woman typing happily at end of the next [vacant] bed on a golf ball typewriter which were new at the time. Suddenly woman & typewriter disappeared. The Sister put it down to anaesthetic related hallucination. No such excuse next day when same thing occurred. This time Matron called & told patient a young woman from the typing pool who`d just been issued with a golf-ball typewriter had died the previous week in that bed & had been seen before. The woman`s description sounded very much like my late wife so I took round a photo & she said “She looks very much like what I saw”
    So, who knows? I`m now 81 so if there is anything out there I`ll soon find out. so I`ll come back & let you all know after making terrifying ” Whoo Hoo Hoo” noises.
    Jokes aside, the above story is genuine.

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