Back in the early sixties I was Assistant Curator of the Brentford
Piano Museum. Next door to the famous Church was an abandoned
Victorian riverside pub, "The Barge Aground." The pub had been empty
for some time having had a succession of tenant landlords, all of whom
had been chased out by a famous ghost. The spirit in residence was so
well known someone even wrote a book about it, "Twinkletoes."
I needed somewhere to live and here was a large, comfortable building
right next door to the museum. I approached the brewing company who
owned it and they were delighted to have me as a tenant at a very low
rent simply to prevent vandalism. As I emphatically did not and still
do not believe in ghosts, the tales about the spirit residents didn't
bother me at all.
My Grand Steck Duo-Art was moved into the upstairs lounge, sharing the
superb view across the Thames into Kew Gardens. Shortly after moving
in, friends had been round one evening and the piano duly demonstrated.
The evening finished, they left and I went to bed.
I was awakened at three in the morning by piano music. The piano was
playing Siloti's "God's Benediction in Solitude" and I well recall
having played the roll that evening and left the piano to rewind itself
and switch off. I had modified the piano to slow the rewind speed and
it often left the roll tab on the take-up spool hook.
Even so, the spirit would have needed to put the piano into "Play" and
hang onto the Motor lever for a few seconds as usual. It wasn't even
in "Repeat", that was the first thing I checked. I rarely bother to
recount the tale because only a Player Piano enthusiast would
understand how unlikely an occurrence this was. During all the thirty
six years I had that piano, it never repeated the trick.
I was intrigued by the incident but I wasn't going to let a mere ghost
chase me out of one of the best pads I ever had in London. I stayed on
for over two years and it never tried again. None of my friends would
ever stop over !