London: Ghost Tour of Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum

I feel like I’ve been jumping around quite a lot on the blog lately, and though I will continue with the Scotland posts after this one, this is the promised write-up of the ghost tour I went on last Saturday night.

I’ve been to some Halloween events at London museums in the past, and while they’re usually reasonably fun, they’re all quite similar, so I wanted to try something a bit different this year.  I found a ghost tour being offered by the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich, and I knew my boyfriend could easily be convinced to go because they were offering a bangers and mash supper beforehand, so that pretty much decided it.  It was £15 a ticket, which included the dinner.

We showed up around 7, and were directed into the cafe, where a rather surly woman plopped down two plates of sausages in front of us without even asking if we wanted them (I’d ordered the vegetarian option, so she begrudgingly replaced my plate with an equally repulsive looking veggie version).  I’m super picky, and sausages disgust me, even the vegetarian version, and I also really really hate gravy, so there was absolutely no way I was going to enjoy this meal, meaning I’m not the best person to review the food portion of the evening.  However, my boyfriend, who thus got two plates to polish off, agreed that it was very bland and unappetizing.  However, the evening was mostly about the ghost tour, so after that ordeal, I couldn’t wait for the tour to begin.

The woman leading the tour gathered together the 25 or so people who had showed up, and proceeded to take us into the museum.  This portion of the tour simply consisted of her leading us to different points in the museum, and saying something like, “there’s the ghost of a soldier attached to this cannon.  No one told him to stand down, and so some people have seen him standing here.”  There was no real history or background given to most of the objects, let alone the history of the museum itself, and no sense of cohesiveness to the tour.  I’d never been in Firepower before, and it looked like quite an interesting museum, but you’d never know it from that tour.

After being led around the museum for a while, we moved outside to the various properties that are owned by the museum, situated around the attractive square.  Though the buildings themselves were interesting, once again, our tour guide’s stories were not, and some of them just straight up didn’t make any sense.  She told us one about the Crown Prince of France (son of Napoleon III), who died during the Zulu Wars, and this lieutenant who was supposed to guard him, and so felt responsible when the Prince was killed.  This Lietenant Carey was thus supposed to haunt the outside of a building where the Prince’s mother was waiting to hear the news about her son, and the tour guide referred to the ghost as pacing back and forth, speaking broken English and broken French.  This story made no sense to me (ghost aside, obviously); why would a British officer speak broken English?  So I looked it up when I got home, and the officer in question was indeed raised in Britain, went to school in Normandy, and was given the job of guarding the Prince specifically because he was fluent in French.  I guess she was trying to say that his speech might have been stuttering or something as he searched for the right words, but the broken English thing was just bizarre.

This wasn’t the only problem I had with the guide.  I mean, the stories were vague and boring, and I didn’t enjoy the tour as a whole, but she didn’t help by repeating the same expressions over and over.  For example, she kept referring to various ghosts as “a bit of a git.”  She literally used that phrase about ten times, and it really got on my nerves.  She also had a really foul mouth (so do I, as you can probably tell, even though I do tone it down quite a lot for the blog) and she kept dropping f-bombs all over the place.  Like I said, I swear a lot myself, so I’m not really one to be offended; I just thought it was kind of inappropriate in that sort of scenario, and I cringed and looked around every time she said it to see if anyone looked offended.  The woman herself was probably in her 50s, and had a son around my age who came along with the tour group, so she was certainly old enough to know better.  I’m not actually sure why she was giving the tour, since she never explained her background or connection to the museum (though she did mention that her son worked there).

In case you couldn’t tell, this tour really pissed me off (see, there’s my foul mouth kicking in again).  It’s such a shame, because the museum looked good, and the area surrounding it was lovely and so full of history, not that you could tell from the tour.  It didn’t even succeed as a ghost tour, as the stories were really lame, and the “hauntings” seemed to all take the form of dull ghosts who just stood there, or the supposed “cold spots” in rooms (because a draughty house in England is real unusual…right).  The sole highlight of the whole experience was that a cute soldier accompanied the tour group to unlock doors for us.  That was seriously the only enjoyable part for me (therefore I’m sure my boyfriend had an even worse time than I did), so it was pretty much a waste of fifteen quid (especially since admission to the museum is only a third of that, and then you’d actually get a chance to look at the exhibits (and any cute soldiers hanging around)). Not to mention that Woolwich is a total bitch to get to from where I live. I’d like to come back to see the museum some day, sans tour, but if they offer the ghost tours in future, I’d definitely give them a miss, unless they find a new, knowledgeable guide to lead them.  This was really the only Halloween activity I took part in this year (other than dressing up like Steve Perry, because Steve Perry is awesome and I always like to incorporate my schnoz into a costume if I can), so I guess I’m extra annoyed that it proved to be such a waste of time.


    1. Thanks! Yeah, it was bizarre, especially since the tour group mostly consisted of older people who didn’t seem like the kind of crowd that would appreciate that sort of language.

      1. How weird, but great that you wrote about so we can know about it! I kinda imagine she may just not have given a damn and thought she’d go out all guns blazing, but for the fact that her son works there! I think you need to head back and report some more!

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