Ma Cameron's on Little Belmont Street is said to be the oldest pub in Aberdeen, it is also said to be haunted.
Ma Cameron’s is a warm, cosy and friendly pub, but, unlike most other pubs this building is steeped in history and people have claimed that it is haunted.
I met with the Assistant Manager, Lynsey Nicolson, to talk to her about the ghostly experiences that take place in the historic building. We sat at one of the cosy booths beside the fireplace talking about the pub’s past and her own experiences there.
Ma Cameron’s, originally known as Cameron’s Inn, is Aberdeen’s oldest pub and has been part of the city for around three-hundred years. However, Cameron’s Inn was built on a medieval settlement which is why many believe there are ‘ghosts’ or ‘entities’ there.
The Cameron family owned the pub up until 1933 when it was bought over by Alex Michael. The pub has also survived two fires that occurred over the same weekend, but no one knows how or why these fires started.
The staff at Ma’s are unsure of how many ghosts reside at the pub, but Lynsey described the one that they know of as Bill whose footsteps can be heard when the pub is closed and quiet.
“We named him Bill,” explained Lynsey, “we didn’t have a name for him, so I called him Bill and it’s just sort of stuck ever since and now everyone calls him that.”
“We had a paranormal team come in and they caught an electronic voice phenomenon upstairs. But we do think it’s only the one ghost.”
Lynsey described after closing the pub hearing footsteps when there's no one there, knocking from different rooms and perhaps even voices when the only people left in the pub are herself and a couple other team members who are all busy cleaning the bar.
She then offered to take me on a tour of the pub, and of course, I said yes, so we left our warm spot by the fire to explore.
The first room Lynsey took me to was the Whisky Bar. In this room, it has been said that one of the beer taps turned on by itself while a member of staff stood at the other end of the bar.
The room was much colder than the bar we had been in before, perhaps because it was closed off to the customers and wasn’t in use, or because we had been sat right at the fire. It certainly gave the room an eerie feel that totally contrasted the cosy and welcoming bar we had just stepped out of.
Lynsey then demonstrated just how stiff the tap is, and when I tried I also found it to be quite stiff - perhaps not something that could accidentally be turned on.
We then went next door to the infamous Snug. Both the Whisky Bar and the Snug are in the original building. The Snug has been left virtually untouched, just with fresh paint and new furniture. This gives you the feeling of the building’s history as original portraits of the Cameron family hang on the wood panelled walls.
At the end of the room is a TV that Lynsey explained you have to switch on and off by going behind it and flicking the switch; not with a remote. She then went on to say that one night she had closed the bar and had switched off all the TVs and the next morning when the person opening the pub had come in the TV turned itself on.
Lynsey took me up the stairs to parts of the pub not open to the public. The rooms were used as bedrooms at the inn and still have some of the original decor (as you can see in the picture to the right: original flooring) but are now used as storage areas and one is the music room.
The music room felt eerie and, much like the Whisky Bar below, the upstairs was colder than the rest of the pub, but this room had a different atmosphere altogether. Lynsey confessed that she avoids this room as much as she possibly can.
I don’t know why but this room didn’t feel comfortable and it felt as though we hadn’t just wandered up the stairs from the lovely intimate pub, but like we were in a completely different building.
Lynsey then showed me a door that was barely larger than a hatch that seemed to be in the middle of the wall so you had to use steps to get up to it. Behind this door was a secret room.
The room was basically empty, with no flooring only rafters so you couldn’t step inside it. Apparently, there had been workmen in the room but it creeped them out so much they barely done anything to the room and left, leaving behind items of clothing and even a bottle of juice on the windowsill.
Perhaps because it was barely even a room it felt so strange to be looking in, and you could only imagine what this secret room would have been used for. And then I looked up at the ceiling and saw another hatch, like a hatch used to get into an attic. Lynsey explained that the hatch leads to another secret room and you can see the window for the room from outside the pub, but no one has been able to gain access to the room.
The music room was where the paranormal investigators gained the electronic voice phenomena, and many people have claimed to have heard footsteps and knocking noises whilst in this room.
The last room that Lynsey took me to was below the main bar known as the ice room. To get to it you had to go down a set of narrow, stone stairs and they already felt creepy. The room was partially below the street, and the windows have no glass just metal bars separating the room from the street.
People have claimed they have seen things move out of the corner of their eyes while getting ice from the machines, or have heard footsteps on the stairs only to find no one there.
I spoke to another member of staff, Jack, about his experiences at Ma’s with the ghost, he said: “It was all just creepy things, like footsteps when there was no one there, knocking, voices, even screams. I mean, you’d assume the screams were from outside, but they just sounded like they were coming from inside somehow.”
He also mentioned that when the workmen went into the hidden room joined onto the music room to start the refurbishment they found a box of old wedding photos scattered across the floor.
It is undeniable that weird and unexplainable things have happened in Ma’s over the years, but most of the staff do not feel threatened by Bill and everyone I spoke to agreed they had experienced something weird while working.
If you’re looking for somewhere to go to celebrate Halloween then consider going to Ma’s and next time you are there, keep your eyes peeled and listen keenly and perhaps you might just get a ghostly experience.