By Lindsey Gray – 19 April 2016

Inhabitants of the University of Sydney Building, Heydon Laurence (or “A08” to those in the know) openly acknowledge the friendly presence of Professor William A. Haswell’s ghost ghouling about the building’s labyrinth like passages. Like many senior Biologists, he just can’t bring himself to leave…

A08beforeThe Heydon Laurence Building as Haswell knew it, c. 1902 (University of Sydney)

Those most prone to discussing and perhaps encountering the ethereal Haswell tend to be our most brain-fried and delirious Honours and Ph.D students burning the midnight oil deep in A08’s belly.

Left Heydon Laurence following major renovations in the 1920’s (Office of Environment and Heritage). Right A08 today (Glebe

While knackered students get to know Haswell best, everyone seems to know or know of the apparition, and as we were surprised to discover, past and present A08 dwellers are not Haswell’s only friends.

Researching Haswell last night, I came across Haunted Sydney a ghost spotting guide for our city. Professor Haswell’s ghost is something of a tourist attraction! Here is the excerpt on Haswell’s ghost from Haunted Sydney,


University of Sydney Zoologogical (sic) Department The ghost of Scottish-born Australian zoologist William Aitcheson Haswell (1854-1925), who specialised in crustaceans, is said to haunt the University of Sydney Zoologogical Department. In 1882 he was appointed demonstrator, and later, lecturer, in the subjects of zoology, comparative anatomy, and histology at the University.  When the Challis professorship of biology was founded in 1889, Haswell was given the position and held it until its division in 1913. Haswell then became professor of zoology, but resigned his office at the end of 1917 and was appointed professor emeritus. He continued doing research work until shortly before his death from heart disease at Sydney on 24 January 1925. Zoology Department – University of Sydney – where ‘old Haswell’, Scottish-born Professor William Haswell, It is said that Haswell still keeps a watchful eye over the department.”

Get in touch if you think we should run some ghost-tours of the Building. It could be a fun way of engaging people in history and zoology (