Big Top boss: I’m not clowning around, I did see a ghost in historic paper mill!

Historic shot of Frogmore Paper Mill PNL-140429-124458001
Historic shot of Frogmore Paper Mill PNL-140429-124458001

You might assume the leader of a touring circus company would be used to freakish occurences – but a suspected ghost sighting at Frogmore Paper Mill had one Big Top boss spooked.

Managing director of Chaplin’s Circus Gary Stocker is using part of the historic Apsley site as a prop-building and rehearsal space, and was working late one night when a chance meeting with an unknown man sent a shiver down his spine.

Chaplins Circus and managing director Gary Stocker are working from Frogmore Paper Mill

Chaplins Circus and managing director Gary Stocker are working from Frogmore Paper Mill

Gary, who lives in London, said: “I was the last one working here at around 9pm, and usually there is nobody else around.

“I went into the mill’s pulper room and there was a guy standing there, he looked like a mechanic and was quite weathered, but he said he knew who I was.

“I got a really bad vibe from him, but it turns out no-one matching his description works here and he wasn’t seen on CCTV entering or leaving the building.”

Gary, who is working from the mill ahead of the circus show’s run starting soon in nearby St Albans, says he didn’t believe in ghosts before the ghoulish experience.

Unlike many pop culture references to ghosts, the 30 year old said the man was not transparent but seemed as though he was stood in front of him in the flesh.

He said: “I am terrified, but I am going to have to live with it as I want to keep working here.

“People keep saying that because I’m involved in a circus, I am not supposed to be scared of something like this!”

Paul Botje, interim general manager at the mill’s charity the Paper Trail, said Gary’s isn’t the first supernatural sighting at the archaic institution, which houses the world’s oldest mechanised paper mill.

Described as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, today the mill is a museum and still produces around 100 tonnes of specialist grade paper every year using the historic machines.

Paul said: “There have been sightings here in the past and we even have ghost-hunters come in to compile reports.

“I personally haven’t seen any ghosts, but I know one or two people who reckon they have and they’re not white sheets – they tend to be ordinary-looking people that seem slightly out of sorts.”

According to the most recent ghost activity report received by the mill, the spectres that apparently live there hail from the 18th and 19th centuries.

John Dickinson, the father of an innnovative method of continuous papermaking, worked in Apsley from 1809 and expanded his business at Frogmore throughout the Victorian age.