The spookiest buildings of Newcastle University

Ever been on campus and felt a spooky presence? Maybe you were right

multiple writers
26th October 2022
Image credit: Anthony Welsh
Newcastle University’s campus is not haunted. There, I said it. You can stop reading now. See if I care! I even called veteran ghost-botherer Alan Robson, host of Alan Robson’s Night Owl’s who confirmed my lazy google searches live on-air - he has never conducted a ghost hunt on campus, nor has there ever been any evidence of paranormal phenomenon recorded. Go figure.

Yet as one of The Courier’s Science sub-editors, I felt it my duty as a “man of science” to find proof of the paranormal hidden on our university campus. The truth is out there, and I was determined to find it.

Armstrong Building

Starting with the obligatory oldest building on campus, the Armstrong Building is the site of the original Armstrong College founded in 1871 which eventually became Newcastle University following an Act of Parliament in 1963. This building is a bit creepy at night. Stand outside Jubilee Exhibition Tower after dark and you may see a spectral face peering from a window above mouthing “What are you doing? It’s after ten at night, go back to your flat”.

While this building is probably not haunted because of the whole overwhelming consensus of science that there is no proof that ghosts exist thing, the rather spooky 2.25-mile Victoria Tunnel runs directly beneath it. What’s the matter David, never taken a shortcut before?

The Old Library

Ah, the Old Library. Perhaps the soul of a tortured librarian haunts these shelves, angrily hurling textbooks at the heads of students who forget to shut the fuck up while inside? While it looks eerie at night, the scariest thing that’s happened to me here is walking into a janitor’s closet last November trying to find room 2.21. Yikes!

While the Old Library looks eerie at night, the scariest thing that’s happened to me here is walking into a janitor’s closet trying to find room 2.21. Yikes!

Architecture Building

I won’t lie, this building gives me the creeps at night. There’s something a bit Poe about that heraldic stone relief at the entrance and those willows in the quad outside scream “I’M HAUNTED”. But alas, no ghouls revealed themselves to me the night I snapped this picture.

Robinson Library

I can confirm my soul has once left my body here while pulling two all-nighters in a row, but sadly it returned after I submitted my coursework via NESS. Opened in 1982 the same year this, this, and THIS were released, it looks a bit more Open University than Monster’s University. No ghosts for you, Robbo.

Urban Sciences Building

As a CS student, I had to include the USB (see what they did there?). The youngest building on our list, it was completed in August 2017 to the tune of £58M. Yet there are as many poltergeists haunting the USB as there are working printers and microwaves that are accessible to students (NULL).

Happy Halloween!

Anthony Welsh

As Halloween approaches, it feels only right to sniff out some of the spookiest university buildings on campus. Blessed with a wealth of both old and modern architecture, I have conducted a thorough investigation into the top three scariest places I have found so far.

The Medical School

There is something distinctively eerie about the domineering structure that is Newcastle University Medical School. Perhaps it is the sheer size that I find intimidating - grey brick walls that seem to endlessly stretch into the sky, a large glass extension that hangs precariously over the main entrance. Or maybe it's the ocean of lecture theatres, dingy staircases and teaching rooms that seem impossible to navigate. One must also consider the extensive history of medicine in Newcastle, as it was one of the first fields of education established here in 1834. If we regard the no doubt gruesome past that comes with medical studies - dissections, amputations, horrifying experiments - surely this has to be one of the most paranormal places on campus? 

The Armstrong Building

The Armstrong Building is the oldest property on campus, automatically making it a fierce contender for being one of the most haunted. During the First World War, it was authorised by the War Office to become the first Northern General Hospital, where Royal Army Medical Corps could treat military casualties. The hospital took in at least 41, 896 servicemen throughout the war effort. As well as this fascinating backstory, we can also recognise the hauntingly beautiful style in which it is built. Local architect Robert J. Johnson described its first stage of construction as ‘early Jacobean English.’ If you look closely, there are some ghoulish gargoyles and buttresses peppered around the building, all contributing to its gothic appearance, reminiscent of perhaps even Frankenstein's castle. 

If you look closely, there are some ghoulish gargoyles and buttresses peppered around the Armstrong Building, all contributing to its gothic appearance

The Arches 

In 1911, the iconic Arches were erected in King Edward VII’s name. A striking symbol of Newcastle University, it is interesting to think about how many people over the decades have passed through them. The footsteps of those who have been and gone, the whisperings of those who have taken the same journey through campus every day for however long. There is something poignant, but also spooky, about how much the Arches have seen and all of the different faces that have looked up at them over the years. What do the stoic Arches mark? In my eyes, a steady, if not omnipotent reminder that this is where we are, regardless of whoever we are, and whatever we want to achieve. Both unnerving, but also comforting, the gothic arches surely hold some spiritual significance within the history of Newcastle University. A guardian of all that lies before them, a symbol of the danger and opportunity lying in both the past and present; a building with endless stories, secrets and spirits. Sinister and special, the Arches point to the spiritual, sublime side of Halloween that perhaps transcends all the usual ghosts and ghouls. 

So, to round off, it is safe to say that Newcastle’s campus is filled to the brim with spine-chilling structures steeped in history. Which buildings do you find the spookiest? With Halloween quickly around the corner, it is something definitely worth considering…

Katy Saunders

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