The Manhattan Dry Cleaners Haunting – Adelaide Arcade
The Adelaide Arcade was officially opened on the 12th of December 1885 by Governor Sir William Robinson to much fanfare and celebration.
The new arcade, between Rundle Street and Grenfell Street was to host Turkish Baths, 50 stores, accommodation for store owners, floored with Kapunda Marble, specially sourced glass panels from England and a first for the City of Adelaide – electric lighting.
The Arcade needed to have its own power generator, as electric lighting as we know it today did not exist. A gas fired generator was bolted to the floor of shop nine and was written about in the
Adelaide Observer, 19th Dec.1885, page 33:
“The engine Room is well worth the visit. Here there is the dynamo which works the electric light. In the centre are the soft-iron magnets and the thousands of coils of wire so beautifully placed in relation to each other that the slightest current engendered in the wire shall immediately accumulate over and over almost ad infinitum. The soft Iron magnets do their part by reason of the positive and negative poles in their mutual attractive force creating electricity. The current before passing on to the insulated wires branching off to the sixteen lamps has to pass over a little bridge of thin platinum.”
It was the job of Henry Harcourt, the Adelaide Arcades Engineer, to light and extinguish the Arcade lights, and monitor and service the generator as needed. On June 21st 1887, Mr Harcourt had to leave early for an Exhibition elsewhere in the City, telling Francis Cluney, the Arcade Beadle (a person like a cross between a security guard and an usher) that he would return in 15 minutes.
Francis was a well-liked gentleman, always dressed in his red military uniform that he had worn during service in the Crimean and Boar Wars. On this evening a group of young men had been making a nuisance of themselves, breaking picture frames at Mr Tattles Photography shop at the Grenfell Street end of the Arcade.
Francis chased them down, and brought them back to the Arcade to pay for their damage. The young man hung around though, and Francis was heard to say to Mr Tattle; “If the Larrikins keep going on like that I will do as I did last night and put all the lights out”
Mr Harcourt left at 5 minutes past 8pm, and sometime in the next ten minutes, Francis Cluney, who had gone to check on the gas turbine, lost his life.
At 8:12pm – Mr W.C Sims was walking through the Arcade and noticed the lights suddenly go off, and as he got closer to shop 9, he noticed a young fellow by the name “Horne”, leaving the shop, exclaiming “There is a man killed!” – was Mr Horne, perhaps, the last person to see Mr Cluney alive?
A Police Officer was called, and with Mr Sims, they entered shop 9 to find what was a distorted and almost totally unrecognisable person caught in the electricity generator – unrecognisable, except for the distinct red uniform.
The following newspaper report comes from the Territory Times on August 6th 1887, describing the condition of Mr Cluneys body
“It took all the strength of six men to drag the fly-wheel back so as to extricate the body of the unfortunate victim. The engine has two fly-wheels parallel to each other and about 4 feet apart. The body was found with the head and shoulders jammed in between the right fly-wheel and the body of the engine. The upper part of the man’s head was smashed to atoms, the fragments of the skull being’ scattered upon the floor and the engine. The head disfigured beyond recognition, and one foot was torn off. No one saw the accident, and the unfortunate man seems to have been killed almost instantly by the revolving fly-wheel, one of the spokes of which smashed the skull. As far as can be judged Cluney must have fallen accidentally against the inner edge of the fly-wheel, which is five or six feet in diameter, and was then jammed against the engine, his body checking the machinery and causing the extinction of the light”
Since the death of Francis Cluney, there have been sightings of his spirit in the Arcade, but particularly in shop 9, which is now held by the Manhattan Dry Cleaners.
Most sightings of Francis are fast moving blurs and shadows, and it is said he has a distinct dislike to rude, arrogant and loud people, or for people talking about electric lighting.
The Manhattan Dry Cleaners, was where the death of child, Sydney Byron Kennedy occurred (not in the Adelaide Arcade museum as so many reports and tours state).
Madame and Professor Kennedy, “Clairvoyants, Phrenologists and Palmists”, had their business in shop 11 (now one half of the Manhattan Drycleaners). Their real names were Bridget Lauretta Kennedy Byron and Professor Michael Kennedy Byron, the two had a young son named Sydney.
Whilst their relationship looked good from the outside, the couple were not getting along. Michael left Bridget, and took their one year old son to live in Tasmania, while there, he met another woman, and began a relationship with her.
Bridget, grief stricken over the lost relationship, and not sure where her husband and son had gone, hired a private detective to track them down. To deal with the emotional turmoil while awaiting news of he son, Bridget turned to alcohol and pills to quell her grief.
The detective returned just before Christmas in 1901, and with him was Sydney. Bridget was overjoyed, and again, took to alcohol to celebrate.
On the 12th of January 1902, newspapers reported the tragic finding of a 3 year old boy, found dead under peculiar circumstances. Mrs Kennedy was arrested and charged with murder – the story broke nationally.
During the trial evidence was submitted that Mrs Kennedy had left Sydney asleep in the upstairs dining room of shop 11. Mrs Kennedy, who was lying next to the boy, and not in her bedroom, was awoken by her housemaid and the child’s nanny at 7am, both of whom complained that there was an unusual smell of gas in the residence, and began to open windows.
The Nanny tried to rouse the 3 year old boy, but unfortunately he was dead.
The trial proceed for many days, with national press coverage, but eventually, because of her doctors evidence of substance abuse, Mrs Kennedy was not charged, however, in her head she was guilty, and she fell into a pit of despair and gloom, turning even harder into the bottle.
Mrs Kennedy was found dead only a few months later in August, her body was recovered in the west parklands.
It is thought Bridget Kennedy still haunts the arcade and on occasion she has been seen. Sydney Kennedy on the other hand, has been seen many time in the Arcade, and during the filming of Haunting: Australia, myself and psychic Ian Lawman had our own experience with a young child in Arcade lane, between the Regent and Adelaide Arcade, running past us and into a now bricked up doorway.
In 2013, I was part of the first ever professional paranormal investigation by anyone in the Adelaide Arcade as part of Haunting: Australia. Whilst in the Manhattan Dry Cleaners, Robb Demarest and myself experienced phenomena that intrigued us greatly. We both felt touching sensations on our hands, as if being shook, hot and cold touching, and a very distinct disembodied voice answered Robb’s question directly – none of this was sensationalised nor faked – what you saw on the show, is as it happened.
In 2015 my team Eidolon Paranormal was invited by the Berry Family to investigate the Dry Cleaners after hours, and in turn , we invited Ghost Crime Paranormal Investigators to join us on the evening, in what became the 2nd ever paranormal investigation to ever happen at the shop.
While it didn’t seem as active as the night we filmed Haunting: Australia, we did have interaction via REM Pod with what we believe to be a spirit, however, on this occasion we were not able to record any EVP’s or other useful data to corroborate the REM Pod as definitive proof of the haunting.
The Berry family have experienced many strange and unusual happenings in the shop, including disembodied voices, poltergeist like activity, phantom footsteps, touching and cold spots.
More recently, as part of an interview for a local newspaper, we visited the shop and talked to members of the Berry family, who stated that Mr Cluney, is indeed still haunting the premises, and making himself known.
I am wondering, if one day, Adelaide might embrace its most famous ghost and celebrate him with a festival like the “Festival of Fishers Ghost” in Campbelltown NSW, a festival so popular and inclusive it spans 10 days and includes a parade and fireworks!
How can we make something like this happen in Adelaide, one of the most haunted cities in Australia!?!
|Allen Tiller in the Adelaide Arcade – Picture: Tricia Watkinson.