The Truth Behind the Infamous “Schneider’s Alley”
Not far from Waterfall Gully sits Schneider’s Alley, a well-known local urban legend about an evil doctor that is alleged to have murdered people and put their bodies into a freezer. Within the urban legend is the story of a blue ghost seen in the area that scares away visitors…but how much of this story is true?
Schneider’s Alley is actually a combination of several true stories, mixed together with mythology, misinterpreted eye witness accounts and misinformed whispers that turned into Adelaide’s greatest urban legend.
The “Alley” itself doesn’t exist, instead, a small alleyway called Andrews Walk, which was once the main entrance of the residence of Clifton Manor has been appropriated as the haunted walkway as well as the large park behind it.
The good doctor in question, Dr Michael Schneider, was in fact not a GP, nor an experimental doctor. He was, in fact, an optometrist, an “eye doctor”. Dr Schneider was very well-loved in the wider Adelaide community for his charity work and for his animal and plant sanctuary, of which he would open for public usage. Local Adelaidean’s could enjoy the splendour of his estate at open days and events, his sanctuary featured native animals and birds, as well as a vast variety of plants, flowers and foliage.
|The park, that was since Dr Schneiders land, behind Clifton Manor|
Dr Schneider was a good man, a man who served for his country, the Empire and King George in World War One, and returned a hero. His name and legacy are now stained by the local urban legend that has grown out of hand off the back of curious thrill-seekers and social media chat rooms.
Dr Michael Schneider acquired Clifton Manor in 1934. He lived in the house with his wife from this point on until his death in the 1970’s. Dr Schneider established a native wildlife and bird sanctuary on the 40 acres of land he owned behind Clifton Manor, which included a Koala enclosure. After enlisting in the Australian Medical Corps in World War 2, Dr Schneider closed the sanctuary and released the koalas back into the wild. His remaining animals were donated to the Adelaide Zoo.
There is no record of murders, rapes or anything sinister ever happening on the grounds of Clifton Manor. It is reported Dr Schneider died at his home in the 1970s. The house and land were then bought by T&G Mutual Life Society and subdivided into the current format of streets, parks and housing found today. I have spoken to former neighbours of the good doctor, and they cannot believe his name could become so tainted in modern Adelaide.
I have investigated the site and surrounds myself on numerous occasions and could not find any evidence of a haunting (this, of course, does not mean it isn’t haunted). I tried every tactic I could think of and got nothing, not even one simple EVP…If there is any kind of ghostly goings-on here, it does not want to be found nor seen.
So where does the story originate from? Well, in my opinion, which is formed from countless hours of research, interviews and investigations locally, is that this story is a bastardisation and union of two other events that happened very nearby, twisted into an urban legend that spread through Adelaide like a wildfire. There was a notable death in the area, only two streets from the allegedly haunted site, where a man had been found, cut into pieces and stuffed into a chest freezer, this was during the early 1990’s, which is just enough time for the story to grow into what it is now.
Combine that with the 100-year-old story of the haunting of Waterfall Gully, where the ghost of Constable Tregoweth is allegedly seen as a “blue glowing” man, which is almost the exact description of the ghost reported by many witnesses in the Schneider’s Alley area. There is also something else I would like to point about this story, the majority of the reports (but not all) come from people who were out to “scare themselves”, most were drinking, drunk or stoned, going into a location (some illegally) trying to scare themselves or the people they were with. This leads to all kinds of stories, variations on the truth, and people witnessing things that were actually staged scaring meant for other groups of people, you can see where this is going right?
People wanting a thrill or a scare is an age-old thing, and what better way than to go somewhere allegedly haunted, I have done it myself, but I cannot stress enough that having respect for the location, the people that live around it and for other people who may be present, as well as the alleged ghosts, is paramount.
Close to Schneider Alley, and the actual crown of the original Doctor Schneider’s estate is Clifton Manor, a large, castle-like structure that sits nearby the park and walkway that attracts all the attention – this is a private residence, so please, don’t go bothering its inhabitants looking to investigate, you will probably receive a hostile “go away!” or some other choice words.
Clifton Manor was built in 1850 by C.D. Sismey after acquiring the estate from Harry Osbourne. The house was added to by Nathenial Cox in 1872. The manor was passed on to a nephew, Mr Harloe Knox in 1926. Harloe Knox subdivided the large estate and sold off approximately 50 acres of land.
The manor then was sold (with approx. 40 acres of land) to Mr Hermen Hoeper – who in 1934 sold it, Dr Schneider. Dr Schneider then established a wildlife sanctuary on the surrounding 40 acres (of which most is now a park). The original driveway and gates of Clifton Manor are still standing and now mark the entrance to Andrews Walk on Hallet Rd, Stoneyfell – Clifton Manors entrance being moved to Waratah Way.
Dr and Mrs Schneider lived in the large house together and had two housemaids who also lived in the house and a gardener. The gardener lived in a small stone cottage out on the grounds, near Dr Schneider’s zoo. Dr Schneider passed away in the early 1970s.
Schneider’s Alley in my opinion is an over-hyped union of other local stories, It may indeed by haunted, but there was no experimental laboratory or deaths at the hands of Dr Michael Schneider, so you can count out that being the cause of the alleged haunting…however, this is an urban legend that just will not die, and surfaces from time to time in the local media. I implore the local media to investigate the case further and clear the name of the doctor and hopefully dispel some of the rumours and myths so that he may rest in peace and the people that live around this much-visited site may also get some peace and quiet.
Allen Tiller ALIAtech, DipFamHist is Australia’s most recognised paranormal investigator,
eminent paranormal historian, and star of the international smash hit television show “Haunting: Australia”.
Allen is also the founder of Eidolon Paranormal, South Australian Paranormal and the author
of book and blog, “The Haunts of Adelaide: History, Mystery and the Paranormal”.
Allen was awarded the 2017 “Emerging South Australian Historian of The Year Award” as presented by The History Council of South Australia. Employed as “Historian in Residence”
in 2016/2017 with the Adelaide City Council Libraries and employed by the City of Port
Adelaide Enfield Council to write the popular, “Ghosts of the Port Self-Guided Walking Tour”
First published in MEGAScene Issue 17 2019
© Allen Tiller