In 1901 Wellington was in the grip of a ghost scare.
A ghost was terrorising Brooklyn, scaring residents and ‘haunting’ local areas.
It was also seen in areas like Johnsonville and supposedly targeting the land of one of the city’s most famous residents Mr Kirkcaldie (that turned out to be a poor woman in a white dress walking to see her lover).
A ghost was said to have appeared in a boarding house window and also in a garden near the tramway's stables.
The ghost would pop out at people, causing screaming and yelling but never hurt anyone.
On February 27, 1901, the papers reported the ghost had been run to earth.
A man and two women were out walking home in Brooklyn when it appeared on the side of Owhiro Road about 11pm.
One of the women screamed and had hysterics but the young man gave chase.
He ended up catching the ghost which turned out to be another young man from the Brooklyn suburb.
The New Zealand Times reported that George Balcombe was charged with being an idle and disorderly person in that he had an article of disguise - which turned out to be a tablecloth.
Balcombe was brought before a court magistrate, and the young man who caught him, Joseph Sutherland said he had been heading through Brooklyn after a night at the theatre when he saw the white form.
One of his female companions fainted but Sutherland - made of sterner stuff - caught Balcombe with what appeared to be a sheet on his head.
Lawyer Thomas Hislop (who became a mayor of Wellington) claimed the 15-year-old Balcombe had done it in a moment of regrettable foolishness and that not all the so called sightings were of his client.
The magistrate dismissed the charge but gave Balcombe a telling off.
The outcome wasn’t popular with at least one newspaper saying he should have got half a dozen whacks with a cane.
George Henry Balcombe was born on May 30, 1886, to Florence and Charles Balcombe. The family later moved, living in Hawke’s Bay and then in the Auckland area.
Balcombe married Marguerite Louisa Loader in 1911 and they had a daughter who they called Florence.
Balcombe died aged 69, on July 19, 1955 and cremated at Waikumete.
Picture by Stefano Pollio.