The Haunting of the Manhattan Dry Cleaners – Adelaide Arcade
The Adelaide Arcade was officially opened on the 12th of December 1885 by Governor Sir William Robinson too 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 was a brand new thing in Australia, and no power stations as we know them today were available. A gas-fired generator was bolted to the floor of shop nine and was written about in the “Adelaide Observer, 19th Dec.1885 – on 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 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 similar to 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 the red military uniform that he had worn during service in the Crimean and Boar Wars. On this particular evening, a group of young men had been making a nuisance of themselves, breaking picture frames at Mr Tattles Photography shop.
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 flywheel, 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.
In 2013, I got to be 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 intrigue us greatly. We both felt touching sensations on our hands, as if being shaken, 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.
Earlier this year, on May 9th 2015, my team Eidolon Paranormal and our friends GCT Paranormal Investigators were invited to investigate the Manhattan Dry Cleaners by the Berry Family, the owners of the Dry Cleaners since 1979.
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.
In the video below, Jayson Berry tells of goings-on after the investigation (Jayson was also featured on Haunting: Australia as a witness to events).
During our investigation (only the 2nd one to ever happen in the Manhattan Dry Cleaners), we experienced activity, partly we believe because we utilised members of the Berry Family as trigger objects.
We experienced disembodied voices and rem pod interaction amongst other things, of which we will explore in a further video on our youtube channel very soon
Today is the anniversary of the death of Francis Frederick Cluney – on June 21st 1887, at some time between 8:05pm and 8:12pm – may he eventually find what he is looking for, get closure, and rest in peace