Ghosts of the Adelaide Arcade

Ghosts of the Adelaide Arcade

History of Adelaide Arcade

Adelaide Arcade is Australia’s oldest shopping arcade, being built in 1885. It originally held 50 stores and today is home to more than 100. Residing in Rundle Mall right in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, the arcade is part of the city’s premier shopping destination.

The Haunted Adelaide Arcade at night.
The Haunted Adelaide Arcade at night.

Adelaide Arcade is a beautiful, inviting building greeting shoppers with a coat of arms but concealing a dark and devastating past. The arcade has seen an abnormal amount of death for a shopping destination throughout the years and not all of those who lost their lives within the arcade have been able to cross over.

Adelaide Arcade is haunted.
Inside the haunted Adelaide Arcade.

The Haunted Adelaide Arcade

Not only is Adelaide Arcade Australia’s oldest shopping arcade, it is also its most haunted. Three known deaths within the arcade have resulted in three alleged hauntings.

Bottom floor of Adelaide Arcade.
Walking into Adelaide Arcade.

The first and most gruesome death occurred in 1887. The then care taker of the arcade, Francis Cluney, died in somewhat mysterious and tragic circumstances. Francis’ body was brutally mangled by machinery in the engine room, which powered the then rare electric lighting within Adelaide Arcade. The cause behind Francis’ death has remained a mystery. Some believe that his death was accidental, caused by slipping over on the floor, while others believe Francis may have been murdered by a group of teens he’d had an altercation with shortly before his death.

Adelaide Arcade's coat of arms.
Coat of arms on top of Adelaide Arcade.

Local newspapers picked up the story of Francis Cluney’s death only to sensationalize and report gruesome details of the incident. Below is an excerpt from one of these local newspapers:

“The skull was fractured in many places, and about one third of the right side of the skull was missing. The cavity of the skull was empty, and the base of the face and the base of the skull shattered. The right arm was broken in several places, and attached to the trunk only by the skin. The right forearm was shattered near the wrist, and the ribs on both sides of the upper half of the chest were broken in many places. The walls of the chest were driven backwards towards the spine, and the scarf skin was scraped off the back of the trunk.” – Local Adelaide Newspaper
Top floor of Adelaide Arcade.
Upstairs of the Adelaide Arcade.

Francis is thought to still walk the halls of Adelaide Arcade despite his horrific death. His ghost has been sighted by multiple security guards and store staff on numerous occasions, unexplained footsteps have been heard and what is thought to be an apparition of Francis’s ghost has even been documented on security camera footage. Those who work in the arcade’s dry cleaning store, formerly the place where the generator that killed Francis sat, have stated that daily paranormal events occur within their store.

The Underground Tea Rooms of the Adelaide Arcade
The Tea Rooms located in the basement of the Adelaide Arcade are said to be one of the most haunted areas of the building.

Yet another death, surrounded in mystery occurred within the arcade. Similarly to Francis Cluney it is unknown if this death was accidental or the result of a murder. In 1902 the toddler of a young couple who lived within the arcade fell victim to asphyxiation from coal gas poisoning. Sydney Byron was just 3 years old when he died within the arcade. Sydney’s death was ruled accidental and his mother was found innocent of smothering him, only to die herself months later.

Strange blue mist in haunted Adelaide Arcade.
Fountain outside of the Adelaide Arcade.

The ghost of a young child, believed to be that of Sydney has been sighted by people within Adelaide Arcade. He will usually appear and then disappear quickly after. Children have also been heard eerily playing inside the empty shopping mall.

Adelaide Arcade bridge.
One of many bridges inside Adelaide Arcade.

The final ghost haunting the Adelaide Arcade is thought to belong to Florence Horton. She was murdered by her husband in 1904. Thomas Horton shot Florence several times in the back just in front of the Adelaide Arcade. The injured woman was carried inside to die of blood loss within shop 50 of the arcade, where she is thought to haunt to this day. Thomas Horton was later executed at the Old Adelaide Gaol.

Visiting the Adelaide Arcade at Night
Visiting the Adelaide Arcade at Night

Visiting the Adelaide Arcade

In the heart of South Australia’s best shopping destination, sits the beautifully elegant Adelaide Arcade. The building is home to many great stores and it is popular amongst shoppers, who are generally unaware of the dark history the arcade holds.

Adelaide Arcade museum.
Creepy doll artifact in display inside the Adelaide Arcade museum.

Just off of Adelaide Arcade’s interior sits Gay’s Arcade, which features a free two story museum sharing the history of the building. Be sure to look out for the newspaper clipping which details Francis Cluney’s death on display. To explore the building’s paranormal history more in depth, night time ghost tours are offered through Haunted Horizons. These give a history of the building’s relationship with death and talk about the resident ghosts in depth. It also takes visitors into the arcades normally closed off underground tea rooms, said to be very haunted.

If you’re interested in other haunted places in Adelaide you can take a ghost tour of, check out my blog on Z Ward.

Thanks for reading!


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About Amy

Amy is a world traveller and explorer of creepy locations. She has visited some of the most famously haunted places around the world in search of evidence of the paranormal. Follow Amy's Journey:

Comments (4)

  • Jazz

    Posted by Jazz on September 21, 2020

    As a resident of Adelaide, I often come into the city and the Adelaide Arcade. After visiting at night a few times, I have always felt weird walking around in the Arcade and it definitely feels haunted. One time I thought that someone was behind me as it felt like someone was behind me, but nobody was around me which felt really weird.
    I read your blog post about the adelaide gaol and it sounds interesting, I have been there before and it definitely felt haunted, there was a weird feeling going inside it. There is also a bell there that I heard ringing, but weirdly there was nobody around that building and it wasn’t windy at all.
    I just discovered your blog posts today and will check out as many as I can, Adelaide is quite underrated for haunting experiences so it is great that you are writing and visiting about Adelaide!


      Posted by Amy on October 13, 2020

      That is so true – Adelaide really is underrated. It has so many amazing haunted locations rich in history. I’m very lucky to be an Adelaide girl myself, loving the local haunts.

  • Kurtis!

    Posted by Kurtis! on October 26, 2023

    is there a way to still get down there? I called the Arcade Manager who said they had no problem with me entering so there has to still be an entrance right?


      Posted by Amy on May 27, 2024

      Only on a tour – you should check out the ghost tours by Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons. They take you down there.

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