by Lucinda Parker (aged 10)

On my street is a beautiful old house built by the Gow family in 1903. It is called Fettercairn. I spoke to the current owners and they showed me old photograghs, pieces of discarded crockery and glass they had found and told me stories about the house. This is my version of a story they told me about the resident ghost.


My mum is going to kill me, I told her I was going to get my stomach looked at but I was so scared I didn’t go. Now I have stomach pains on my right side. I don’t want to go to the hospital but I must, its only across the road. I walk into the hospital and collapse on the floor. The nurses rush me into a room. They put me on an anaesthetic to operate but I didn’t wake up. My heart stops beating. My mum rushes into the room, the nurse shakes her head and my mum starts to cry. I can see her crying. I see my body lying there motionless. I walk up to mum and say “it’s okay” but she can’t hear me. I just stand there watching mum as she keeps crying. I try to talk to her but she isn’t listening. The doctor tells her I had a burst in my appendix and was allergic to the anaesthetic; that’s why I died. I touch her but she doesn’t notice me, it’s like I’m not there. I run. I run to the front of the house but the big doors are closed. I go to push them but I can’t, something is stopping me. I walk back to the room which was mine but my body was gone and so was mum. I look out the window and see mum burying my body. I go down to see her but she leaves through the back gate. I just stand there staring at my grave. On the grave it says “Billy Brownfeet, I love you.” I go and lie in one of the beds and cry myself to sleep.

When I wake up, days, months have gone by. Mum is selling the private hospital. All the nurses and midwives lose their jobs. Mum must have been heartbroken. Before mum packed everything up I got a green medicine bottle with the anaesthetic I am allergic too. I walk outside and try to smash it in the backyard. It doesn’t break. I go back inside and cry myself to sleep. In the morning mum has removed everything from the hospital. I managed to grab the last remaining piece of a plate with Fettercairn’s crest. That day the house was sold to a man. I don’t know his name because the house became a boarding house for 24 years. In those 24 years I saw lots of people. I didn’t meet any…well once I met a girl she said that the boarding house was for people from the country coming to further their education. Her name was Pearl and she stayed for 4 months. She was the only company I had for a long time. After being in a boarding house, Fettercairn was sold again to a well-known Newcastle surgeon, Dr James Holley. He lived there with his wife and five children. As soon as he arrived at Fettercairn he wanted to restore the historic property. He was very busy fixing the house until the earthquake hit in 1989. It was very scary, I was in the house watching the children when there was a BOOM. The house started to shake, dust was falling, there was a loud crack, everyone ducked down. When it was finished I ran outside to the big swimming pool in the backyard, luckily it was still intact. I went back inside to find that the house I loved was falling apart.

Later that week I heard shouting. I ran downstairs to see a child crying and a father looking very worried. The father puts down a piece of paper and goes into the kitchen. I go and read the paper; it says something about a payment bill for Fettercairn being $500,000. I spy another note to the council it says; Dear council, I am asking permission to demolish Fettercairn as we can’t afford to fix the building after spending all our money to restoring the house. Thank you for understanding.

No they can’t demolish Fettercairn! The next day Dr Holley went to post that letter. As the weeks go by there is a public debate about the future of Fettercairn. Some people think that the Holley family can do what they like with the house, others think (including many Novocastrians born at Fettercairn) it should be preserved. I hope my home is saved.

On 18th June, 1990 the local government decide that Fettercairn should not be demolished. Due to this decision Dr Holley sold the house to Mr Gordon who was willing to undertake the renovation work. Mr Gordon made Fettercairn into an Art Gallery and wanted to live upstairs. As he was moving in he found a note from Katie (Catherine) to Lydia. He wondered when it was from. I thought about it and remembered that the Gow family lived here first when they built Fettercairn in 1903. Katie was the youngest daughter and Lydia the oldest of the nine Gow children. The letter must have lasted a long time, about 77 years.

The day after Mr Gordon moved in he went out for work. I had the house to myself. It was lovely to spend time in Fettercairn in its restored condition. When he got back it was late and he got into bed. I was very tired myself an fell asleep in the doorway. In the morning I woke up to a Gordon was running down the stairs yelling “GHOST,” he never spent another night at Fettercairn. It was sad because he never got to know me. The house held many art exhibitions over the next 12 years. Now the house is back as a family home so I can enjoy the children’s laughter, listen to the music of the piano and play with the big dog, though they never did restore that beautiful swimming pool.