Near the foot of Carlisle Road in the city there was a smallish hostelry called Bond’s Hotel in the early twentieth century.
It was handy and inexpensive and was a decent place to stay for the artistes who appeared in the old Opera House next door. When it ceased to be a hotel in the 1960s it was turned into offices and Diana Stevenson opened a lovely bridal shop on the ground floor called ‘Diana’s the Bride’.
She told the following story to me: When I first bought the shop I had heard tell of a ghost on the premises but I didn’t think much about it. There were offices above the shop and I was made responsible for seeing that everyone had left and checking that everything was in order before I left the building.
One evening two or three days after I opened for business, I was closing up and by way of double-checking that all the lights were off, I looked up and saw that there was a light on in one of the offices on the top floor. I had thought that I was the last one left in the building so I went up the stairs to turn off the light.
I got a terrible shock when I reached the top corridor because there was a girl standing there, opposite one of the doorways. She was standing as if frozen and the thought that crossed my mind was that she was not well. She had pressed her back tightly against the wall and her whole body was stiff. Her arms and her hands were stretched out along the wall and she was oblivious to my approach. I didn’t know the girl but I asked her if she was all right.
At first she didn’t answer me and I asked her, ‘Are you not well?’
‘Oh’, she cried out, ‘I can’t move. There’s a presence here. I can’t!’
‘Don’t be silly,’ I said, moving forward. ‘Of course you can. There’s no one there.’
‘Oh yes, there’s a presence here. I can’t.’
Just then a cold feeling of dread washed over me and I felt extremely frightened. It took me about half an hour to persuade her to move. I didn’t want to leave her alone but I was certainly aware of something in front of us. The air was freezing even though the rest of the corridor was warm.
It seemed that the girl had some business with the office but when she arrived the office was closed. She had tried to turn the handle of the door and the lights in the office immediately turned on, and it was then that she felt the paralysing presence of someone or something.
I hadn’t seen the girl beforehand and certainly not afterwards but I am convinced that there was a presence. I never ever went to that floor alone again.
Taken from Madeline McCully’s Haunted Derry published by the History Press