Andrew Green

Writer and ghost hunter

Andrew Malcolm Green, writer and ghost hunter: born London 28 July 1927; married 1951 Hazel Hunter (marriage (née Styles); died Robertsbridge, East Sussex 21 May 2004.

Andrew Malcolm Green, writer and ghost hunter: born London 28 July 1927; married 1951 Hazel Hunter (marriage (née Styles); died Robertsbridge, East Sussex 21 May 2004.

Andrew Green was a writer and investigator of haunted houses who thought he had achieved the fame he always craved when he was asked by the Royal Albert Hall's public relations department to explore reports of paranormal sightings.

The hall authorities arranged the ghost hunt for 29 April, the night before the launch of the new Proms season in 1996, the hall's 125th anniversary, a fact that had so far failed to stimulate much public interest. Suspicions were aroused but Green arrived with vision scope, static gun, bat detector and other gadgets amid a mass of excited journalists and camera crews. He duly carried out a 12-hour vigil, spending most of the time on a green sofa in the basement. To be fair the basement was reputed to occupy the site of a former brothel and was where Rivers Howgill, a duty manager, claimed he had seen two ladies who then disappeared.

Everyone except Green thought he had been conned. There were vague stories of phantom forms of Victorian ladies and the figure of a stooping old man wearing a skull cap (possibly Henry Willis, builder of the hall's giant pipe organ) and various feelings of unease by staff who patrolled the building at night as well as the occasional failure of the basement alarm system - but nothing very recent or very significant. Green accepted the non-event and added it to his investigations file.

Andrew Malcolm Green was born in Ealing in west London in 1927 and educated at Borderstone Grammar School. He had various jobs in pharmacy, office administration, advertising, publicity, the Civil Service and for a while he operated his own publishing house, Malcolm Publications, producing house journals, tourist material and the like. In his forties he studied for a degree, earning a BSc in 1971 from the London School of Economics and in 1975 a master's degree in philosophy from Goldsmiths' College. From the 1970s he devoted himself full time to investigating and writing about ghosts and hauntings. He also edited Ivan Banks's The Enigma of Borley Rectory (1986) and Sarah Hapgood's 500 British Ghosts and Hauntings (1993) and The World's Great Ghost and Poltergeist Stories (1994).

Green claimed to have seen a ghost in his teens. While visiting relatives in Sidmouth in Devon he awoke one morning to find a fox terrier sitting on his bed. When he was dressed he thought he would take the dog for a walk but it had vanished. His uncle told him he was the seventh person to see the ghost dog in that bedroom; it had been a much-loved pet of previous owners.

In 1944 Green's father was a rehousing officer in the Ealing district and Andrew accompanied him when he visited a house in Montpelier Road that had been empty for 10 years. The story was that during the period it had been occupied, prior to 1934, 20 suicides had jumped from the tower and there had been a murder. While exploring the tower-top Green thought he heard a voice urging him to go into the garden 70 feet below. He went towards the edge and might have dropped to his death had not his father grabbed him from behind. Later Green photographed the house from the garden and the result showed the image of a girl in Victorian-style dress in an upstairs window. He always thought the photograph, which was never explained, showed a 12-year-old girl who had fallen, jumped or was pushed to her death in 1886.

Green's own books included Our Haunted Kingdom (1973), Ghost Hunting (1973), Ghosts in the South East (1976), Phantom Ladies (1977) and Ghosts of Today (1980), as well as several short booklets on mysteries in Surrey, Sussex and London. But he was less than thorough in his research: much of the material he published came from unreliable sources, magazine reports and unnamed informants. He included a ghost story in Phantom Ladies which was total fiction, the imagination of Leslie Cannon, a librarian at Barking, in east London, who invented the story for the Barking Record. I have personal evidence of his using material without permission, even reproducing the odd mistake. He once complained in high dudgeon to my publishers about something I reported he had seen; when I produced chapter and verse from his own pen he had to eat humble pie.

He frequently shifted his position, from writing about ghosts in the magazine Prediction to telling people - as he told me in writing in 1983 - that ghost hunting was not really his scene any longer. He also made statements on radio and television that he later sought to disclaim.

Green was a popular lecturer on local adult evening courses and enjoyed philately and amateur archaeology. He was co-founder of the National Federation of Psychical Research Societies, the founder and chairman of Ealing Society for the Investigation of Psychic Phenomena and co-founder of Lewisham Psychical Research Society, although these organisations are now defunct.

He once claimed, without producing any evidence, that 98 per cent of reported ghosts had a down-to-earth explanation while also claiming, without any evidence, that over four million people in Britain had seen a ghost. What was his explanation for ghosts? "They are a form of electro-magnetism at frequencies in the infra-red portion of the light spectrum."

Peter Underwood

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