The Cardiff Poltergeist – Mower Services

Most ghost stories relate to old buildings. The spirits involved are like a flashback in time, frozen in a repetitive action, oblivious to the surroundings of modern life. Poltergeists however, are something entirely different. They haunt people, not places, and they deliberately make their presence known. Poltergeists demonstrate a level of intelligent interaction with the living world that is not known amongst other types of ghost. Opinion is split on exactly what “poltergeists” are. Some argue that they are energy sources, originating from living people. Others suggest that they are the spirits of the lingering deceased.

One of the most famous accounts of poltergeist activity comes from Cardiff in Wales. The Cardiff Poltergeist was alleged to haunt a small backstreet automobile repair centre called Mower Services. During the 1980s, Mower Services was run by John Matthews along with his wife Pat and his brother Fred. Mower Services had enjoyed good trade since opening. It had built up a loyal customer base drawn from across Cardiff and the family were earning a decent wage from the business. Times were good at Mower Services.

However, one day the peace at Mower Services was permanently shattered. John and Fred were doing some repairs on a car in the workshop area of their premises when suddenly they heard a tremendous clattering coming from the roof. Assuming that children were outside throwing stones, Fred went to investigate, only to find the surrounding area to be deserted. As soon as he returned to the workshop the noise started again, causing John to remonstrate with his brother for not stopping the child vandals. Perplexed, Fred explained that the forecourt was empty and that there was no possible way the noise was being made by someone outside.

This was the beginning of an intensive period of poltergeist activity that would go on to be witnessed by police officers, insurance officials, academics, a priest and a large number of Mower Service’s customers. In the words of John Matthews, the “spirit decided to move in”. As well as the usual poltergeist phenomena, such as unexplainable changes in temperature and mysterious, overpowering smells, the spirit showed a fondness for childish tricks. For example, keys would go missing for hours and hours, only to be thrown from no where at their owner. Money would also go missing, then turn-up stuck to the ceiling or wedged in a crack in the wall. Despite all the paranormal activity, Fred and John insisted during interviews that they never felt threatened by the spirit’s presence. They even gave it a friendly nickname – “Pete the Poltergeist”.

What did concern the owners of Mower Services was the fact that customers began witnessing the ghostly activity. They became worried that the poltergeist may well scare away their trade, so decided to treat it a lot more seriously than they had originally. One day John and Fred decided to conduct a test, along with their staff, to evaluate the degree to which “Pete” would respond to what they were doing. Everyone present at the time was asked either to leave the premises or join-in the test. All doors and exits were then locked and the remaining individuals sat around a large circular table holding hands. The group then requested the spirit to make its presence known and sure enough a stone suddenly landed on the table. This prompted one of those present to suggest that the group should record the responses by writing them down. Seconds later a pen was thrown from nowhere, again landing on the table.

To the astonishment of all present, the Cardiff Poltergeist seemed to demonstrate a level of rudimentary intelligence, alongside a willingness to interact with the living world. During the test, those present requested that the spirit throw specific items, such as a coin or a battery. Amazingly, according to the witnesses, the spirit obliged by throwing exactly what had been requested each time.  Fred and John decided to seek assistance. They contacted David Fontana, a university lecturer and expert on metaphysical and paranormal phenomena.

According to reports, as soon as David Fontana arrived at Mower Services, the strange activity began. When the investigator walked into the reception area, a small stone was thrown at him from an area of the room that was not occupied. John Matthew’s response was to say “see, it’s Pete and he’s saying hello”.  After several hours observing the phenomena at Mower Services, Fontana went on to write a report which alleged that the premises were home to a poltergeist that was demonstrably intelligent. The article attracted a huge amount of attention nationally, achieving the precise opposite of what the business’ owners had wanted. Mower Services became a notorious paranormal location and began attracting tourists.

Despite the increased public attention, the poltergeist’s activity was undiminished. In fact, it seemed to intensify quite dramatically. Incidents of items being thrown or doors being locked from the inside increased sharply. Then, one day, the spirit took things even further by manifesting in front of Fred.

Fred and his brother John had been working on a car, when something caught Fred’s attention on the top shelf of a unit in the corner of the room. It was a little boy, who he described as being “tiny, thin and grey in complexion”. He said the child was huddled in the corner, staring intensely at himself and his brother John. He was apparently dressed in tattered clothing, with a face that was almost featureless. Careful not to scare the spirit away, Fred whispered to his brother to turn around slowly, in the hope that he too would see the ghost; but as John turned, the boy vanished from sight. When asked what he had seen, Fred replied “it was Pete, our Pete”. Seconds later a large, heavy brick was hurled at Fred, narrowly missing his face.

Months passed with the activity continuing on a daily basis, until one day, John and Fred decided that the time had come to move premises. Both brothers thought that the move would be the end of their contact with Pete the Poltergeist, but it soon became clear that this wasn’t to be the case. When Mower Services moved out, Pete moved in with Fred. Within days, Fred and his wife began witnessing paranormal phenomena throughout their home. The activity closely mirrored the events experienced at Mower Services. In a final attempt to rid himself of his supernatural sidekick, Fred consulted with a medium, who advised him to smash or break any items that the poltergeist moved or interfered with. Sure enough, this method worked and Pete never returned to visit Fred again.

Read more stories of poltergeists from across the UK.

10 Replies to “The Cardiff Poltergeist – Mower Services”

  1. My family and I lived at a haunted property called ”Gladstone villa” in the former mining town of Bargoed , in the Caerphilly county borough of the South Wales valleys, close to Cardiff. This was throughout the 1970’s and we experienced phenomena that simply defied rational explanation. We heard regular footsteps that would occur every evening in the main bedroom, sometimes during the day when we’d all be downstairs watching television, one of us would turn the TV down to hear it more clearly. We also had minor poltergeist activity, lights going on and off, electrical cables would be pulled. There was even the odd sighting, though this was very rare indeed. My mother said she saw the full figure of a monk!. It got so bad that we slept downstairs with the lights on all night !!!. We left Gladstone villa in the Summer of 1978.

  2. I believe this because I have had similar experiencees and beed trained as a sensitive by Sri Sri jayant Athavale of Sanatan Paranormal REsearch Centre at Goa-India .WE believe that entities are those of ancestors who have not been given proper religious rites after death.

  3. This ghost nonsense was just that nonsense , I worked at Mower services between 83 89 and I created Peter the Poltergeist as a joke me and my colleague Graham .
    John Mathews and co were very gullible at the time it was a joke we couldn’t stop , because everyone just loved it.

    1. Hi richard…just read your comment, I would love to interview you about the hoax.
      are you available to chat?



    2. to richard why would you make somehting like this up

      as i have left a comment on the website after one of the brothers saw the ghost

      he then actually had a brick thown at him surely you would pot do that and stones

      when you see it on you tube being thown on the floor or the roof it is still very

      dangerous surely you would not do this trish

  4. my personal opion is why would this be a hoax thowing stones and aiming bricks at people can be dangerous and could harm someone if i thought that some one

    that i had worked with was dloing this as a hoax i would ask them to leave. i have

    had quite a few incidents at my aunties has and when i am in the supermarket. if you are

    going to play a hoax you shuold not though bricks lor stone this is dangerouas.

    patricia the happenings which have happned inmy aunties house are these

    my shoe came off the radator there has been water on my aunties toll box

    books have been thown from my trolly and a combe has come flying off the bath

    would any one like to comment on this trish

  5. I worked at Mower Services from 1984 to 88 and I can confirm it was.a complete hoax perpetrated by me colleague John “the ambulance” that was his nickname , he liked his drink and his pranks as did I , Pete the.pokt was our creation , but we were surrounded by gullable people who WANTED to believe.

    1. Sorry Got some facts wrong my colleague was Graham not John , and the dates were 84 to 88 as I remember.

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