Terrifying tales from Scotland's most haunted theatres

For centuries, the theatre has been a place of extreme emotion and a certain eeriness when the curtains go down.

The King's Theatre in Glasgow is said to home to the phantom 'Seat Tipper'. PIC: TickX.
The King's Theatre in Glasgow is said to home to the phantom 'Seat Tipper'. PIC: TickX.

It is perhaps no surprise that these entertainment palaces hold many stories of unexplained, supernatural activity that usually stirs up once the audience has gone home.

The King's Theatre in Glasgow is included in a collection of haunted theatres put together by ticket agency TickX.

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The theatre, on Bath Street, is said to be home to the 'Seat Tipper'.

Joan Neil, Head Stage Doorkeeper of King's Theatre, spoke of a mysterious presence that would tip the seats in the empty auditorium.

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"I would sit and read before the house opened and one night I decided to sit and watch to see if I could see anything.

"Nothing happened so I started reading my book. As soon as I started reading [again] I heard the seats tipping.”

She also explained an experience a former night watchman had when patrolling the building with his dog.

"Charles eventually had to take her around another way so they could get back to stage door. There was definitely something in the prop room.”

Other Glasgow theatre also hold their own haunted tales.

The Tron Theatre in Merchant City has a long history of supernatural activity.

The original church built on the site was burnt down by The Hellfire Club - the 18th Century social clubs that offered “clandestine pleasures” to a membership made up largely of high society rakes.

According to MH Steel Collins, writing on the Spooky Isles website, the theatre, which has been open since 1981, has attracted paranormal investigators from The Ghost Club and the Paranormal Club Scotland, on several occasions.

The visits followed report of staff feeling watched and one male employee reporting the sensation of an icy finger on his neck. One night, a door handle appeared to open completely on its own.

Ghostly sightings of two children and a man dressed in full riding gear were also encountered, Mr Steel Collins wrote.

Activity is said to be highest in the two back rows of the auditorium, with investigators reportedly making contact with several spirits, including an eight-year-old child, a teenage girl, a town crier and a thespian called Arthur.

The theatre's boiler room is said to give off particularly strong supernatural signals.

Over in Edinburgh, the Festival Theatre on Nicolson Street is home to some great spooky stories.

Staff have reported unexplained cold spots that appear and disappear in seconds, heavy doors that slump open in empty auditoriums and unexplained footsteps in the basement.

The theatre's most powerful scary tale relates to The Great Lafayette, born Sigmund Neuberger, who was one of the most lavish, celebrated - and well paid - illusionists of the early 20th century.

In the spring of 1911, he visited the Festival Theatre – then known as the Empire Palace Theatre - to perform his most ambitious production to date.

"After he performed his finale, ‘The Lion’s Bride’, in which he swaps places with a live lion on stage, a lamp fell on the heavily carpeted set, quickly setting the stage on fire," according to one account.

A total of 11 people perished in the blaze, including The Great Lafayette himself, who was later found under a trap door in the basement beneath the stage.

It is believed that the great illusionist haunts the Festival Theatre to this day, shining his diamond rings in the dark. It has also been reported that a piercing lion’s roar can be heard cutting through the still of the empty auditorium,.

There is also a story at the Festival Theatre of the peg leg sailor.

Off-duty seamen were hired to run the fly loft given their expertise with knots and handling sails.

High up on the narrow walkways of the fly loft, it is said a small, limping figure can be seen pacing up and down.

Sometimes, the sound of a wooden leg scraping along the floor has also been heard...