Bob Ritchie was the manger of the pub downstairs.
He’d just turned fifty when I started because they had a bit of a do for him. He had a wife, Beth, and a daughter Jane.
The pub would be packed on Mondays, but the hotel itself was never busy.
I had Bob Ritchie and his wife convinced the place was haunted
There was this telephone in a wooden booth. It was down the passageway from the office. You could just get in and close the door and get yourself sat down. There was a ledge you could lean on to write messages and that. There was this missing panel underneath with a piece of canvas across that was probably put in to service the bell-pull strings that came in from the various rooms, but it seems everyone had forgotten about that. There were all these strings coming from all the rooms. I’d be in there waiting for a phone call for someone to put their order in and I’d fiddle on with these strings. House telephones would often exploit the wiring previously provided for the bell pushes which summoned servants … or in this case the hotel manager or his wife. This access point must have been created when the Hotel and Offices had the wiring carried out with many of the pull strings for the guest rooms remaining. The telephone was known as butter-stamp receiver, because of its shape.
Beth Ritchie was so terrified by all these bells going off that she wouldn’t go to bed.
I kept it going for some time and I never let on. I wasn’t aware I was doing anything. It would die down then Muggins would be in the box waiting for someone to make a call and it would start up again. Bob Ritchie died at the Royal Hotel, Blackhill, on January 19th, 1911. I’d just been there six months. He had a heart attack. When I heard someone suggest it was to do with the torment of the bells going off I worked it out and thought I might get the blame.