Plumbers leg-it after strange encounters…plasterers get unexplained help pulling cable through ceiling…fleeting figures spotted…mysterious footsteps and voices heard…lady’s perfume wafts through historic building. PETER BARRON reveals the ghostly goings-on at Kiora Hall…

AS no-nonsense plasterers, Ashley and Nathan Sellars are down to earth kind of guys – but even they’ve been left mystified by what they’ve seen and heard at Kiora Hall.

The brothers are part of a dedicated team of tradesmen who’ve been working hard to transform the disused building into a new school – and they’re convinced the historic Teesside building is haunted.

It has become so spine-tinglingly spooky that two experienced plumbers ran from the building in the middle of the night, locked the site gates, sat in their car, and refused to go back inside.

On another occasion, Ashley and Nathan were left “gobsmacked” when a cable was pulled up through a hole in the ceiling, even though no one was working on the floor above.

“Nathan was just chopping up the wire when someone pulled it up through the gap for him, and yet there was no-one there. It made us tingle from head to toe,” said Ashley.

“Then we had the two plumbers, working on their own at one o’clock in the morning, when they heard voices and footsteps and ran as fast as they could.

“We’re the ones who do the locking up, making sure all the windows are shut, and we’ve often felt a strange presence. You suddenly see figures in your peripheral vision but then there’s no-one there.

“In my opinion, someone definitely walks around on the hallway. I’ve honestly never known anything like it – it’s incredible.”

The building, in Ragpath Lane, Norton, dates back to 1877 and has had several uses over the years, including a family home, hospital, school, community centre, and prisoner of war camp.

“It’s been the talk of the site and the locals mention The Grey Lady all the time,” added Nathan. “It doesn’t spook me particularly – I just find it fascinating. Whatever it is, it’s harmless.”

Ashley and Nathan have also told how they often smell a lady’s eerie lavender perfume, just as they are locking up for the night.

Local councillor Jim Beall, who lived on the estate for 27 years, said: “There’s always been local rumours about The Grey Lady for as long as I can remember, but no-one’s ever got to the bottom of it.”

The £1.3m school conversion is being carried out by Thornbrook Construction on behalf of the North East Autism Society, which is working in partnership with Stockton Borough Council to breathe new life into the old building.

Thornbrook director, Mark Payne, said: “We’ve got to know the local community really well, with a lot of local people working on the site, and they all know about The Grey Lady. They even talk about her in the builders’ merchants down the road.

“There’s also talk of an Army officer, maybe a captain, haunting the building. I was never a believer in things like this until this job, but I’ve definitely got an open mind about it now.”

Thornbrook employees and contractors worked throughout the festive break to make sure the building was ready on time, with the keys due to be handed over to the charity towards the end of the month.

As well as being a school for autistic children, the building – including a sports hall – will be opened up for community use.

John Phillipson, chief executive of the North East Autism Society, said: “All I know for certain is that Kiora Hall is going to be a fantastic community asset again, and Thornbrook has done an amazing job to keep to the schedule – despite the interference they may or may not have encountered!”