Ghostly happenings and unusual events on the London Underground
The majority of humans have an inbuilt fear of dark subterranean places, even more so if they find themselves alone in an unfamiliar place. Mostly they are more at ease living and moving above ground in well-lit areas in the company of other hopefully benign creatures.
However in the majority of large cities the most convenient system of travel is using a subterranean subway system which is capable of moving large numbers of people quickly and cheaply, without interfering with surface buildings and roads.
London had the first underground system, courtesy of the Victorian engineers, on 10th January 1863 initially named the Metropolitan District Railway it served a short trial route between Paddington and Farringdon using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives.
The initial route was quite shallow constructed using “cut and cover” method but as the system expanded it went ever deeper and the first boring machines were used to cut 10ft 2in diameter tunnels which in 1900 additional line tunnels were expanded to between 11 feet 8 inches and 12 feet 2½ inches and in 1904 to 16ft to take the newer versions of the electric trains.
Over the years the network has expanded to 11 lines, and by 2014–15 had carried 1.305 billion passengers, making it the world's 11th busiest metro system. The system has 270 stations and 250 miles of track and is universally known as the “Tube” which is a much more pleasant nickname than the original “Gutter line”.
The deepest line runs approx. 192ft below the surface, but many of the early deep and narrow tunnels have either been widened or closed and just used for pipework or cabling.
The New York subway which opened on 27th October 1904 suffers from similar strange occurrences which I am sure are described in other articles.
Such an old complex behemoth as the London Tube is bound to attract tales of strange happenings and ghostly apparitions, some being fairly easily explained and others that may make your blood run cold.
The following are reports of unusual, tragic or unexplained happenings at various stations or lines.
Liverpool Street Station
A man in white overalls is said to walk the deserted platforms at Liverpool Street at night. Who or what he is, is not known, but no employees are supposed to be there. A rare late night unfortunate commuter has described witnessing a man dressed in workman’s overalls walking agitatedly up and down the platform at night as if he is waiting for a train.
What makes the story even more curious is that night shift workers, who were renovating the station in 2000, claim to have seen the “ghost” on CCTV surveillance cameras.
An employee went to investigate and said that he saw nothing yet his colleague insists they could see the two on camera. They maintain they could see the two stood side-by-side on the deserted platform. A thorough check of the platform came up empty, except for a pair of white overalls folded on a bench.
A sad possibility is that this was the site of the first Hospital of the Star of Bethlehem, an asylum for the insane. This area was frequently haunted by the screams of Rebecca Griffiths who died in 1812 and was buried without her treasured coin she compulsively held on to when locked away here. She also had the habit of upsetting the other inmates by peering suddenly through their cell windows.
There is a possible explanation, however implausible, Liverpool Street station is said to have been built over a mass plague burial ground, giving birth to rumours of hundreds of ghosts of different ages who roam the local area looking for a suitable escape route.
Over many decades the piercing sounds of women and children screaming have been heard at this station by countless witnesses although no one has ever managed to identify exactly where they emanate from.
One possible explanation was that during the war in 1943 The Bethnal Green tube disaster happened not as the result of mass panic (as was the official version) but was caused when a new previously unknown anti-aircraft rocket battery was fired, without warning, next to the station.
Between 2017hrs and 2027hrs an estimated 1,500 people had safely negotiated the solitary steep staircase into the station. It was raining outside and the steps were wet and slippery. Although double width the staircase did not have a central handrail and the only illumination for those making the treacherous descent came from a solitary 25 watt bulb, to comply with the blackout regulations.
At 2027hrs a terrifying explosion was heard as the newly installed anti-aircraft battery in a nearby park fired off a salvo of 60 experimental rockets into the dark night sky. The noise of the explosion was so loud and so unfamiliar to the local residents that many of those in the crowd waiting to descend into the station thought that a stick of German bombs had exploded nearby and unease quickly turned to blind panic.
To escape the possible effects of the bombing the crowd surged forward and began to press forward down the slippery steps to what they hoped was safety. A woman carrying a baby in her arms tripped and fell as she neared the bottom. A man who had been just behind her then fell over her and others then fell over and on top of him. In less than 20 seconds, hundreds of people found themselves being crushed in the narrow and dimly lit stairwell at the foot of the staircase and on the stairs themselves by the hundreds of now panicking people still coming down from the street above completely unaware of the tragedy that was unfolding literally beneath their feet.
In all 173 people (27 men, 84 women and 62 children) - more than the victims of the Paddington, Moorgate and King’s Cross disasters and the 7th July bombings combined - died of asphyxiation in the stairwell of Bethnal Green Station that terrible night and the sheer horror and scale of the tragedy has, it seems, left an indelible imprint upon the very fabric of the station.
In 1981 the Station Supervisor with the last train long since departed and all the staff, apart from him, gone home for the night, secured the station and turned off some of the station lights and returned to his office to catch up on some paperwork. He hadn’t been back in his office for very long, however, before he heard what sounded like young children crying and sobbing. At first, he didn’t think anything of it as outside sounds sometimes echo around but the sound of the crying steadily grew louder and louder. Agitated female voices were added followed by loud, heart-rending screams and other loud noises that he couldn’t identify. This volume of sound…which he said sounded like “a lot of people panicking”… went on for about 10 to 15 minutes and it so un-nerved him that he left his office and went to the top of the booking hall to get away from it. He freely admitted that the experience had shaken him to the core and it was something that he would remember for the rest of his life.
The ghost of Kings Cross is said to be more recent than many of the other London apparitions witnessed across the capital. It concerns a young woman with long brown hair wearing modern clothing that is said to walk the corridors of one of London's busiest stations. Apparently she is said to suddenly drop to her knees and scream loudly with arms outstretched – but people nearby walk right through her or when people come to her aid, she disappears into thin air
The first sighting of this frightening apparition was noted in 1988, when a commuter saw a woman who appeared to be in distress and walked over to comfort her – only to pass right through her when he reached the spot she was standing. The sightings have been repeated many times and all in the same circumstances and position.
There is one possible explanation which is the infamous Kings Cross fire which killed 31 people on 18th November 1987 and is believed to have triggered these supernatural incidents, with many people suggesting she may have been one of the victims of the tragedy, trapped between this life and the next.
On the 14th October 1940 at 2002hrs a 3000lbs fragmentation bomb penetrated 32 feet underground and exploded just above the cross passage between the two platforms.
Above ground a No.88 London double decker bus, travelling in blackout conditions, plunged into the huge crater created by the bomb.
The water and gas mains, together with the sewage pipes, had been broken: water poured down, flooding the tunnels below, and highly explosive gas hampered rescue efforts. Almost all of the casualties would have resulted from the blast and debris. Yet stories soon developed of trapped people drowning in the flood waters and of miraculous escapes by people swimming along the tunnels to the next station. Some died when the blast blew an unfortunate few into the path of an incoming train. Some 64-66 people died (although exact figures have never been confirmed) and it was not until just before Christmas that the last bodies were recovered, some 2 months later.
The station was completely rebuilt but many stories circulate of the dead returning and staring soulfully at the site.
Bank and Monument Complex
Bank and Monument are interlinked stations, spanning the length of King William Street in the City of London. There are five Underground lines, plus the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which runs into Bank and together they form the seventh busiest station on the network. Officially, known as the Bank-Monument Complex, the separate names remain in use on station entrances, platforms and the tube map. The two stations derived their names from the nearby Bank of England and the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
There have been numerous paranormal sightings of a spectral figure at the Bank station reports of which date from today to all the way back to the end of the 19th Century, shortly after it opened. The haunting is by a sinister spirit dressed in black colloquially known as 'the Black Nun', with numerous sightings and reports of unexplained foul stenches in the tunnels. She is known to approach people and whisper “have you seen my brother” then fade away. In addition there is an overwhelming persistent sense of sadness noted by workers and commuters passing through the station.
The spectre may be a lady by the name of Sarah Whitehead who wasn’t able to handle the news when her brother Phillip Whitehead was executed in 1811 for cheque forgery and she went quite mad, dressed completely in black she returned daily to his office to meet him. An underground worker once followed what he thought was an old lady in black locked in the station during the early hours of the morning, but she vanished down a corridor known to have no possible exit.
She is believed to be the origin of “The old lady of Threadneedle Street” as the bank is nicknamed.
In addition, at least one employee during 1982 has reported something knocking on an empty lift door from the inside, way after normal closing time.
Bank Station is also noted as a site of hauntings, as the ticket hall is actually the former burial grounds of St Mary Woolnoth Church. Many researchers cite the disturbed dead as the possible cause
It may be unrelated but on an equally chilling note, the foul smell may be explained by Bank's location, on top of a mass grave for plague victims dating from the 17th Century.
On the 11th January 1941, during the blitz, over 50 people were killed and nearly 70 people were injured when the Central Line ticket hall took a direct hit from a German bomb. The resulting crater measured 120ft long and 100ft wide and it had to be covered with a bailey-bridge for traffic to pass over. The station was put out of action for 2 months. These additional lost souls will have added to the supernatural power present in the area.
The Screaming Spectre of Farringdon is thought to be a young Anne Naylor who was murdered in the 18th century. She became known locally as 'the Screaming Spectre of Farringdon', but has never been seen only ever heard. The echoing sounds have been terrifying passengers for years, with her piercing screams sending shivers down the spine of anyone unfortunate enough to be within hearing distance.
Dating back to the early days of the Tube, this supernatural phenomenon is reported as often now as it's ever been, with hundreds of witnesses confirming the horrific sounds.
The story is that this phantom is the ghost of young Anne Naylor, an 18th Century orphan who was killed by her employer at a London workhouse aged just 12. Her body was dumped where the station now stands, explaining the pained screams which still continue to pass through Farringdon's corridors.
This is one of the few stations that don’t have any escalators. Platform access is only by spiral stairs (195 steps) and a lift. This deep winding staircase of Covent Garden's tube station is said to be frequented by the spectre of an actor William Terriss.
Born on 20th February, 1847 William Charles James Lewin took to the stage in 1867 under the stage-name of William Terriss. He quickly established himself as a very popular actor in Victorian London in a variety of swashbuckling and heroic roles. Because of his dashing style he gained the nick-name of “Breezy Bill”.
On 16th December 1897 at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand he was due to appear in the evening's performance of a play called “Secret Service”, when he was stabbed to death by a deranged and disgruntled actor he had once befriended by the name of Richard Archer Prince. As he lay in a pool of blood his dying words to his leading lady were “I’ll be back”.
Covent Garden's tube station has since been the site of eerie goings-on for over half a century, with numerous witnesses claiming to have spotted a tall man in a tall top hat, coat and gloves prowling the dark tunnels of the Underground and even the staff rest room. He is believed to be the ghost of the murdered actor who used to frequent his favourite bakery which was knocked down to make way for the station. The menacing spectre has provoked numerous Tube workers into requesting a transfer.
The favourite explanation, claimed by many, after studying pictures in various programmes and posters is that the scary figure bears an uncanny resemblance to the murdered actor William Terris.
Elephant & Castle
The Elephant & Castle underground station has the reputation of being the most frequently haunted place on the London tube line.
Members of staff and the public have reported hearing sprinting footsteps of an unseen being along the platforms, doors being slammed open and shut and curious tapping noises, with many attributing these occurrences to the ghost of a young lady who enters trains, but never leaves.
One witness, a Tube driver who has first-hand experience of this terrifying spirit, said: 'At around 1800hrs at Elephant & Castle Underground Station, I was planning to join the train at the terminus at Elephant & Castle and walk forward to the front of the train with a view to travelling with the driver. At this point the driver had not arrived so I put my bag down and walked to the rear door to wait for him. While I am waiting a girl gets into the carriage, she walks straight through the carriage and I have to move aside otherwise she would have walked through me”. Another variation to the story says the last train of the night is haunted by a lone girl who is seen to walk from the last carriage to the tip of the train, vanishing as she reaches the engine.
Footfalls and rapping have been often heard in the station when it is closed, and on investigation, no source can be found.
Slightly less terrifying but equally baffling are the bizarre goings-on at Highgate station which have left local residents nonplussed for years.
The sound of trains moving through a train station probably doesn't strike you as particularly odd – but when the planned extension of the Northern line was abandoned leaving one section of railway disused, and the rails removed, the sound of trains passing through is extremely puzzling.
The Northern line extension project was shelved at the end of the 1940s following the renovation of Highgate station, with the unexplained train noises occurring ever since! No explanation has ever been provided for this one – the tale of the Highgate ghost trains remains a mystery to this day.
The sighting of the so-called 'Ghost Train' of South Kensington occurred in 1928 and was a spooky scenario first witnessed by a passenger on the last train of the evening, who claimed to have heard an unnerving high-pitched whistle, followed shortly by the arrival of a furiously driven early steam train with an unexpected passenger – a spectral figure in a peaked hat and reefer jacket hanging from the side of the engine. Though the witness said the train disappeared into the tunnel, there is no record of this train having existed, and it was never seen again.
No credible explanation of this has ever been found – but a similar occurrence in 2013 suggests we are still a long way from an answer to this peculiar story.
While the mention of a ghost generally brings up thoughts of malevolent spirits with evil intentions, it seems not all of our ethereal friends are out to get us – many years ago, an electrician at Aldgate station slipped onto a live rail, knocking himself unconscious and sending over 630 volts DC through his body.
Incredibly, despite this seemingly fatal error, he emerged unscathed, apart from a bruised forehead, while colleagues insist that just prior to the fall they saw the luminous figure of an old lady kneeling next to the stricken worker, stroking his hair. The tale of the 'Elderly Angel' goes back over a century, although a precise date has never been confirmed.
The station was opened on 18th November 1876 and was built on the site of a plague pit in which, according to the author Daniel Defoe in his “Journal of a Plague Year”, 1,000 bodies were buried in only two weeks during the terrible plague of 1665. Because of this Aldgate station has experienced so many ghostly goings-on that there is now an official 'ghost log book', with many experts attributing this hotbed of spooky activity to its location.
The British Museum station has been abandoned since 24th September 1933 and therefore it shouldn't be much of a surprise that it has been associated with plenty of supernatural happenings. In fact, it might just be the home of the most famous London Underground ghost of all. The station was closed due to the opening of Holborn Station by a rival company, just a few hundred yards away.
Legend has it that the disused station is haunted by the ghost of Amun-ra, an Ancient Egyptian God, who appears dressed in traditional Egyptian loincloth and headdress. In addition in 1935, a few years after the station's closure, two women inexplicably vanished from nearby Holborn station, with witnesses claiming they heard ghostly moaning around the time of their disappearance. The only trace was a series of marks on the station walls.
There is a long established rumour that there is a secret tunnel stretching from Holborn station to the British Museum's famous 'Egyptian Room' The comedy thriller, Bulldog Jack, was made in 1935 which included a secret (fictitious) tunnel from the station to the Egyptian room at the Museum. The station in the film was called 'Bloomsbury', and in all likelihood was a stage set, but the setting was based on the ghost story of British Museum.
The rumours of the ghost grew so strong that a newspaper offered a reward to anyone who would spend the night there. Despite the money no one took up the offer.
There are several stories about the “Dead Body Train” seen at Whitechapel which ran through a private tunnel and collected the corpses from the Royal London Hospital and took them to an unrecorded destination. (Supposed to be a larger mortuary)
The train reputedly ran through a now bricked up narrow tunnel to a private platform by the hospital. Other claims suggest there is a long forgotten underground pedestrian tunnel linking Whitechapel Station to the hospital. At the height of smallpox infections this space was used as a morgue before being sealed up and still remains there today, presumably empty.
There is some doubt that a pedestrian tunnel existed. The railway was a private company and would only build such a tunnel if it either felt it would improve the chances of attracting increased passengers using the railway, or was ordered to as a condition of getting permission to build a railway. As the East London Line crossed the land owned at the time by the Hospital, it already had to pay a princely sum for the permission to dig its cut/cover tunnels. However, even though the hospital is directly opposite the station, it is possible that the Hospital might want a tunnel to link the two buildings.
If we look at the pros and cons firstly, due to the position of the platforms/tracks, such a tunnel at platform level could only be possible on the northbound platform. Secondly, the Hospital’s main entrance is on an elevated ground floor, so the hospital end would need a person to go up three flights of stairs to get to the reception. Not easy for an ill person to achieve.
Then there are several additional costs, not just the construction, but you need to have staff down in the tunnel checking tickets.
Also, people leaving the hospital would arrive back, theoretically, at the northbound platform when most traffic would be southbound. This necessitates going up two flights of steps, over the tracks, and back down again. The simple and cheap solution would be to just cross the road.
But was there any need for a train to carry away the dead in the first place? Well, at the time being talked about, a private hospital would have had to cover the cost of burying paupers itself and it is possible that the Hospital would have used what is today the East London Line to carry the dead to South London. That said, most of the patients would have been local, so it might have been more appropriate to bury them in the East End, not south of the river.
However, there is a possibility that the dead body train could be real is due to the fact that the East London Line itself ran right next to the mortuary building round near the eastern side so transferring bodies from morgue to train would be convenient.
Possible reasons for ghosts on the London Underground
Plague pits dug during the outbreak of Bubonic plague in the 17th century have proved a great hindrance in building the Underground. Firstly because they were dug so deep to prevent the spread of infection and secondly because no-one knows how many there are or where they are located. The Victoria Line, built in the late 1960s ran into trouble when the tunnel boring machine went straight into a long-forgotten plague pit at Green Park.
Take the case of the London Depot on the Bakerloo Line. At the south end lie two tunnels; one exits to the line at Elephant & Castle, the other to a dead end to stop runaway trains. Behind the wall lies one of London's many plague pits dug during the bubonic plague crisis. No ghostly activity has been reported but few staff are willing to go down there, particularly at night.
Aldwych station was opened in 1907, originally part of the Piccadilly line and being so close to many West End theatres, it gained the unofficial title of the Theatre Line. Aldwych station itself was built on the site of an old London theatre - the Royal Strand.
During the Second World War the line was closed and the tunnels used as an air raid shelter and to store various national treasures from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. This station was closed in 1994 because the cost of refurbishing the original lifts at the station could not be justified. It is still currently used for parties, opening nights and for film sets.
Numerous people have claimed to have seen the ghost who haunts Aldwych station on the tracks at night, mainly by the staff who cleans the tunnels and stations. The ghost is believed to be an actress who is stuck in time awaiting her last curtain call.
A 15 strong camera crew from the television programme “Most Haunted” spent 24 hours at Aldwych station in 2002. Derek Achorah (a self-claimed spirit guide) managed to contact a ghost called Margaret, who could be the actress sighted many times before. During the investigation the crew walked through the tunnels in complete darkness. Yvette Fielding thought she saw someone or something in the tunnel. Meanwhile, over on another platform, a motion detector was set off, yet nobody was near enough to trigger it.
The Station has also featured in a number of films including The Battle of Britain (1969), Superman IV – The Quest for Peace (1986), The Krays (1990), Patriot Games (1992), Creep (2004) and V for Vendetta (2006).
East Finchley to Wellington Sidings underground
This stretch of the Northern Line is reputed to be haunted by a spectral steam engine in the livery of the Great Northern Railway to the amazement of several witnesses.
Highgate High Level Station.
Started during the Second World War, the station was never finished, though locals sometimes report the sound of a steam train along where the track was supposed to have been laid.
Location: SE19 (Greater London) - Area below Crystal Palace Park
One of the more gruesome stories revolves around a train full of passenger who all simultaneously died and the train and all of its passengers were bricked up in an old disused tunnel.
This may sound far-fetched but there are two possibilities, which although unlikely, could, nevertheless not be beyond the realms of truth.
Firstly, as previously mentioned the underground ran close to the Royal London hospital. There are several reports that special trains stopped at the private hospital platform and the dead from the mortuary were loaded on the train and delivered to Whitechapel Mortuary which had more room for the large number of bodies.
The second was somewhat more macabre. London between 1860 and 1900 was in the grip of several huge smallpox epidemics in which tens of thousands died leaving these bodies in a highly infectious condition. The suggestion goes that old underground rolling stock was used and carefully packed with infectious corpses. The coaches were then moved into long forgotten small diameter tunnels and bricked up for eternity. There are references to these derelict tunnels being under Crystal Palace Park and scary stories of hands reaching up through the soil in an attempt to grab passers-by. Both of these accounts are officially denied but, then of course they would be.
Crystal Palace pneumatic railway
A similar principle to an earlier postal tunnel was applied to this railway, where a carriage fitted with a large collar of bristles was sucked along an airtight tunnel that measured 10 by 9 feet. The bristle collar served to keep the tunnel "partially airtight" and this may have been a demonstration line for a more substantial atmospheric railway planned between Waterloo and Whitehall, construction of which was started under the Thames but never completed.
Remnants of the tunnel have been found during1992 in Crystal Palace Gardens
In 1978, a woman claimed to have found the tunnel and to have seen within it an old railway carriage filled with skeletons in Victorian outfits.
Subterranean beings All under London No fixed location
Sightings of these beings are reported every few years since the late 19th century. Stories drawn, from supposed sightings of them starting to grow longer hair on their bodies (presumably for warmth) and stooping over (again presumably from the small spaces they inhabit and poor nutrition). It is claimed that they died out in the twentieth century due to some kind of disease or infection that spread amongst them, but sightings still occur. These subterranean beings live off the junk food we discard in the underground tube stations and eating the odd commuter if they are discovered alone on the train.(This may be rather fanciful).
One of the creatures was seen late at night and the witness was the only person to get off the train at its scheduled stop on the Northern Line. As the train pulled away from the deserted platform what was described as a “funny growl” was heard. The witness was shocked to see a large, hairy, spectral, ape-like animal lumbering across the platform towards the track.
It was described like it was embedded in the concrete with about three-quarters of its body being above the platform, but its legs were in it, moving forward like a ghost. The beast continued to walk through the concrete, right onto the tracks, and then straight through the wall directly behind the tunnel.
Faceless Woman Beacontree Station 1992
A station employee working alone heard the door to his office rattle several times. Unnerved, the man went upstairs to find a colleague but felt he was being watched. Turning around, he saw a woman standing there in a white dress with long blond hair but no face - her features were completely smooth. Describing the events, a short time later, the employee discovered that he was not the only person to have seen her.
It could have some connection when in 1958, 10 people died in a train collision on this part of the District Line. Both trains had left Becontree Station just minutes before.
Grinning Man Channelsea Depot, Stratford June/September 1994
A former British Rail employee reported seeing a tall man wearing a cape and top hat standing by a hanger. He had a terrible grin accentuated by a mouth full of white teeth, and immediately vanished, leaving the witness very cold and apprehensive. A few months later, in the same area, the witness felt a strong tug at her bag that almost pulled her over; she spun around expecting to see a colleague, but no one was in sight.
Silhouette - King William Tunnel, Under London Bridge (disused underground tunnel 1980)
This is one of the longest and oldest disused tunnels on the network. Closed in 1900 it stretches from Borough Station to the north side of London Bridge. In the 1980s a photographer was commissioned by London Transport to take pictures for a book the Company was bringing out. He took a series of photographic slides in the old tunnel and was surprised to see, on one of the slides, the slightly translucent silhouette of a man standing near the tunnel wall. A medium later went to the site where the picture was taken and claimed to have made contact with the spirit of a man who had died breaking up a fight during the tunnel’s construction.
Bakerloo Line Black Panther
A woman saw what she describes as a “big black panther” that was “bounding along the track” as she stood waiting for a train on the Bakerloo Line late one winter evening in the mid-1950s. The animal was “running very fast,” and as it passed her, it quickly looked in her direction with a fierce glance before vanishing into the darkness of the tunnels. Although she did not see the creature again, she has never forgotten her terrifying encounter with the unknown beast, deep below the city of London. Before anyone asks, this was not a big domestic moggie or dog.
In the early 1990s, there were several more sightings of a big cat alongside the Central Line between Northolt and Greenford. Accounts vary as to the species of cat, although most seem to settle on “puma.” Whence it came and how it got to Northolt without being noticed remain to be explained.
During the 1960s, drivers stopping at signals here would often be alarmed by the sudden appearance of a man standing next to them in the cab. It would seem he was some sort of spectral crewman and would stare straight ahead, but would vanish as soon as the train pulled away.
Man in a Trilby hat - Marble Arch 1970
This underground station is said to be haunted by a man in a trilby hat and overcoat, seen on the escalator but vanishes as soon as he is spotted
Cries of the Trapped Lewisham Station, & St Johns area
Known more commonly as the Lewisham Train Disaster which occurred at an over ground station on 4th December 1957. Thick, cloying fog caused a crash which killed ninety people and injured over one hundred. It is their chilling cries which can be heard echoing in the location on each anniversary of the accident
Bakerloo Line early 1980
There is a very interesting ghost photograph taken by Karen Collett whilst travelling on the Bakerloo Line.
She took a happy picture of her family on the train using a simple cheap 110 camera, but when printed this eerie image appears reflected in the glass of a man in an electric chair with blue sparks shooting from his hands.
It looks very similar to a wax figure of Bruno Hauptmann, who was accused of the kidnap and murder of the Lindbergh baby. The pose is identical to the one in Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and shows him in the electric chair, only with blue sparks from his hands.
Despite sceptic’s claims that it must have been a poster in the Underground tunnel, Madame Tussaud's and London Underground can find no record of any such poster ever being manufactured or used.
Boadicea's Grave King's Cross Station, Platform 10
The final resting ground of the warrior queen is reported to be under this busy platform. Along with the bones examined, which were identified as female, there were artifacts found which included a mirror, a necklace, brooches and bowls. All these items were likely to have been used by Boudicca. In addition, there were two other female graves lying by her side. The conclusion was that this was the grave of Boudicca who was known to have died along with her two daughters.
Winston Churchill Queensway Station, Central Line 1980s
Witnessed waiting on the platform, Sir Winston Churchill once lived quite close to the station. The photograph taken of his spirit was quite poor and although some mediums agree it’s real, others disagree and say it is unrecognisable.
Woman with a Red Scarf Ickenham Station
One winters evening in the 1950s this ghostly figure stands at the end of the platform, close to where she fell and was electrocuted. She sometimes waves to attract attention before vanishing. The apparition reoccurs each year.
Nun London Road Depot (Bakerloo Line)
London Road Depot (Bakerloo Line) has something of a reputation for ghosts This area is thought to be haunted by a disturbed nun who is connected to a nearby Roman Catholic school., On the eastern side of the depot is the Roman Catholic School, which is presided over by Nuns and which stands on the site of a previous religious institution.
Slamming Doors Kennington Loop 1980
All passengers disembark at Kennington and the carriages are checked just prior to trains turning in the loop. This is a noisy operation as the steel wheels screech on the rails negotiating the tight curve. However, as the train drivers sit in silence waiting in the dark loop tunnel, at least two have reported hearing the connecting carriage doors open and close as if someone is moving from the rear of the train towards the driving compartment.
Crying Side street by Kennington underground station 1984 very early morning
Two employees at the station went outside and sat on the wall for a cigarette. They heard a woman sobbing no further than three or four yards away, although no one was visible. As the crying moved away, one of the concerned workers followed the sound, which travelled down the road and into a side street behind the station, where it stopped with nobody visible.
Reflection in the window Bakerloo line, Elephant & Castle and other stations along the line
It is reported that occasionally, while travelling northbound, some passengers can see the reflection in the window of someone sitting next to them, even though there is no one in the seat.
Passengers and staff at Regent's Park station on the Bakerloo Line have been scared by the sounds of howling coming from the tunnels. There is sometimes a moaning sound and the rustle of whispering. The whole thing is really strange and eerie. There could be an obvious solution as Regents Park contains London Zoo and perhaps animal sounds are amplified by the tunnels, however the station staff would know this.
Major work was going on in the Northern City Line tunnels in the early 1970s. A few workers claimed a man in blue overalls would approach them. This in itself didn’t seem that strange, until a look of sheer horror and panic would suddenly appear on his face before he disappeared before them. In 1975, there was a serious tube crash in this part of the station, killing the driver and 42 passengers. Some believe the driver was faced with this ghost and severely distracted may have lost control which may have been the cause of the crash. Despite in-depth investigations the reason for the crash has never been discovered. It may be possible that this ghostly apparition was a premonition of the disaster to come.
Rail Worker Tulse Hill Station, platform one
Killed as he walked on the tracks, the worker's footfalls are sometimes heard echoing through the station late at night.
Monks Jubilee Line, from Westminster to Stratford 2000s
Since the construction of the Jubilee Line, reports of phantom monks walking the tracks have begun to emerge. The sightings may be connected to the large number of graves which were disturbed while work was commencing.
Tall Man Vauxhall Underground Line 1960s
This seven foot tall man was seen underground several times by diggers working on the line - he wore brown overalls and a cap.
Workman West Brompton tube station
Further Comments: A man dressed in dark, old looking workman's clothing has been spotted early in the morning and late at night. He walks to the end of the platform before disappearing.
Workman South Island Place, Northern Line, near Stockwell Station 1984
As part of his education a trainee manager was sent to walk the line by himself when he encountered an old man with a Tilly lamp working at South Island Place. They exchanged a couple of words in passing. When the trainee reached Stockwell Station he commented that he had seen someone else along the line. Worried a search party was dispatched to find the worker as no maintenance work was scheduled. No one could be found, and the trainee later discovered that the old man had been seen dozens of times over the years, and was believed to be the ghost of a worker killed on the spot during the 1950s.
Footprints Baker's Street to St John's Wood, northbound tunnel
During the construction of the Jubilee Line in 1999/2000, one of the underground track walkers, sat down for a break while patrolling the line. He was suddenly aware of the sound of disembodied footfalls which crunched down in the ballast and appeared, in the dust before him. The footsteps carried on straight past him and stopped about 30ft from his position. When he finished his rounds, he was chatting to his colleagues who said that other people had also encountered the footsteps and they belonged to a workman killed instantly by a runaway train coming out of Finchley. The poor workman chillingly had no idea that he was dead, so continued his own shift each night in the area. Records show that at least 5 maintenance staff has been killed on that particular stretch of track.
The extension had carved its way through the grounds of several old monasteries forcing the re-location of 683 exhumed graves. Ever since, numerous sightings of phantom monks on this part of the network have been reported.
Strange Face Hyde Park Corner station 1978 early morning
Two members of staff were alarmed when they discovered an escalator, they had turned off was again working, even though the electrical breakers had been disabled. Shaken they walked into their office to make a cup of reviving tea. Suddenly one man encountered an area so cold that his breath was visible, while the other worker collapsed against a table in a state of shock.. His colleague then told him that as he had been making the tea, a disembodied head had floated through the office wall and had spent some time staring at the pair of them. Shortly after, Mr. Oakley’s colleague decided he could no longer stay on duty and left the station to go home. He never returned to work on the London Underground again
Strange occurrences on the Circle Line
During the late 1990s strange occurrences were reported as occurred on a stretch in between the Circle Line’s Edgware Road and Baker Street. According to reports, trains would suddenly lose all electrical power and breakdown in between the two stations leaving the passengers in complete darkness.
The Circle Line is the world’s oldest underground railway line and some of the origins can be traced back to 1863, so it was obvious to electrical engineers that there could be a worn section of the track
Many of the responses included cases of paranormal activity. One report stated that a lady who journeyed on the train for 15 years taking the same route had started to notice something inexplicable happening to passengers shortly after the train departed from Baker Street. She claimed that many people suffered from panic attacks or sudden emotional outbursts occurring on the same part of the track.
Another report stated that during a lengthy breakdown the lights would flicker. During this time passengers noticed human-like figures standing outside their carriage, not moving, just lingering in the darkness. There were several other reports from different witnesses all reporting their sightings of bewildered figures loitering outside in the dark.
Slowly more and more reports came in of a mystical kind; the management team realised that this was no joke and they needed to investigate it further. Thankfully due to some good Victorian record keepers, evidence exists of the track dating back to 1863. This showed that during the construction of the tunnel, diggers had discovered large amounts of teeth and bone fragments and consequently they named it the ‘Plague Pit’ tunnel and it is still thought today that it is the resting place for up to 20,000 bodies!
Eventually the team decided to hire a priest to bless this section of the track and sprinkle it with holy water. Though the London Underground team encourage passengers to report any further occurrences during their journeys, there haven’t been any reports of spiritual nature since the blessing.
Striding Grey Man Acton Green common, near Turnham Green tube station
At about 0645hrs, Thursday 12th February 2004This semi-transparent entity was observed walking parallel to the railway line, wearing a knee length cape. The dark grey figure vanished when the witness momentarily looked away.
Hands Maida Vale Station
Although said to be haunted, details of the entity at this station are unclear, a phantom is said to appear late at night, while hands are said to be 'felt' on the escalator.
Oppressive Feeling Embankment Station - Page's Walk
Since the turn of the century, staff who walk along the long dark disused tunnel known as Page's Walk under the Thames claim to have heard and seen doors in the tunnel opening and then slamming shut without any human assistance and that they have been watched by unseen eyes, while complaining of cold winds and an oppressive feeling.
One way Train Brookwood Necropolis
An unusual train service operated from Waterloo to Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking. It conveyed the deceased and their accompanying mourners to their final resting place, the Brookwood Necropolis, which at one time was the largest cemetery in the world. The Necropolis was originally constructed as concerns about public health in the nation's capital and elsewhere had increased, with London having suffered its first cholera epidemic in the mid-nineteenth century. The railway had many unusual features. In the cemetery there were two stations, one for the Anglican section and another for the Nonconformist section. The station was bombed in April 1941 and suffered severe damage and was never rebuilt after the Second World War although the entrance pictured still survives.
Liverpool Street Bedlam
Travellers on the new Crossrail line might find themselves a little spooked, as the new Liverpool Street rail station awaits the excavation of skeletons from an old cemetery. It is estimated that as many as 3,000 skeletons are buried here, dating between 1569 and about 1738. But while this is chilling enough the cemetery concerned belongs to the infamous Bethlem Royal Hospital, a psychiatric institute whose horrific history of chaos and madness is like something out of a horror film. The word “bedlam” was derived from the hospitals bastardized nickname, as the institute became famous for its cruel and depraved treatment to its patients and for charging members of the public for entry to view and mock the insane. A number of ghosts haunting the station and surrounding areas are believed to have been patients of Bedlam. Between 1780 and 1812, screams were regularly heard and while the ghostly wails have not been heard for a while, it may be only a matter of time before the haunting begins again, this time with the voice of 3’000 others disturbed souls.
Buckingham Palace private underground train
Undeniably underneath Buckingham Palace there is a branch line to a tube station just for the Royal Family. In the event of war, or civil uprising the Queen, her family and retinue can escape to their Royal Tube Train and leave London. There is a rumour that the Royal's personal tube network goes all the way up to their residences in Scotland, but frankly this is absurd.
Prince Andrew has tried to use the tube, but was banned from doing so because the Queen wants it kept top secret due to the public's reaction at the thought they will be abandoned by the monarch during times of crisis!
Some 70ft below the surface the Post Office ran a 2ft gauge railway through 7ft diameter tunnels to carry mail along 23 miles of track to avoid the most congested parts of London. These were driverless trains (although they could carry an engine driver if needed). This railway started in 1927 and finally closed on 10th January 2004. A number of cars exist with leather upholstered seats, Perspex canopies and bodies in brown paint with E11R logo on the doors. The suggestion is that via a suitable branch line this could act as a standby emergency train to get the Royal Family out of central London in the event the mainline train is inoperable.
Parliament link to Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
There is claimed to be an underground tunnel linking The Houses of Parliament with Downing Street, and a similar tunnel linking Downing Street with Buckingham Palace.
The most intriguing story is of 'Q-Whitehall' - an underground 'town' where important people will meet and govern in the event of a national attack. It was built in the early 1990's at a cost of £110 million. There are various entrance points around the city, disguised mainly as shops, houses, apartments, even phone boxes!
South Kentish Town
This station was open in 1907 and was called Castle Road. It was renamed South Kentish Town in 1908 but was little used and closed and fell into disuse in 1924 following a power station strike. One day a train stopped at the station for a signal and accidentally opened its doors. A passenger seemingly engrossed in his newspaper stepped off just as the train pulled away. Suddenly realising his predicament he tried unsuccessfully to find a way out but everything was closed and locked.
After a day or so he decided to light some torn posters which was spotted by a rare passing train and he was rescued.
Although the basis of the story was true Sir John Betjeman wrote a fictional play on the subject in 1951, called South Kentish Town.
Reports of a girl with “coal-black pits for eye sockets” first emerged in London in the 1980s - but experts now say she is back.
The last sighting was very recently at Knightsbridge tube station and a paranormal investigator has been looking into reports. One of which from a terrified traveller said he and his wife were waiting for the tube with their child when they heard the chilling sound of a little girl giggling in the tunnel. To their amazement, a child, with coal-black pits for eye sockets, no taller than 3½ft in height appeared from out of nowhere on the track in front of them and just as quickly disappeared.
Of all the sightings this is the only one I have had experience of. I saw a mother with two young children and another trailing slightly behind but this one was very pallid, dressed in strange old clothes and with coal black pits for eye sockets. Was I seeing the ghost of a deceased child associated with this family ?
The station master at Blackhorse Road station reports that there is a ghost at this station of a worker who fell down the ventilation shaft whilst it was being built. Many have experienced weird things when at the station late at night and many staff there has seen “phantoms”.
The Central Line seems to have many hauntings and several people have reported leaving a late train to ascend the escalator and feeling that someone is standing on the step right behind them, and leaning uncomfortably close. When they turn around they will find the escalator is empty. One lady reported seeing a figure out of the corner of her eye and she noticed him wearing a hat and smart black overcoat but annoyed by his closeness when she turned to confront him, the escalator was empty. She now refuses to use that station unless with friends.
Ever since the first line was opened in 1863, however, one of the major headaches facing the engineers and construction workers commissioned to expand and develop the network has been the unexpected presence of huge burial pits dating back to the summer of 1665 when London was ravaged by an outbreak of bubonic plague (the Black Death).
The greatest problem was that there was no planning and consequently no-one knew for certain how many of these plague pits were actually dug, nor where they were located with any degree of accuracy, it was inevitable that as the underground railway network continued to expand, more and more of these 17th century plague pits would be disturbed often without any warning. This is exactly what happened when the Victoria Line was being constructed in the 1960s. A huge tunnel boring machine ploughed straight into a long-forgotten plague pit at Green Park which traumatised many of the construction workers on site.
Liverpool Street Station, the London terminus of the former Great Eastern Railway, is actually built upon a plague pit as is Aldgate Station (on the Circle Line) and the Piccadilly Line between Knightsbridge and South Kensington is said to curve around "a pit so dense with human remains that it could not be tunnelled through".
Deaths during construction and operation
Setting aside the awful legacy of the plague pits for a moment, the London Underground has also witnessed its own fair share of human tragedy in the last 145 years.
People have been killed building and maintaining the network. Some have died of natural causes while traveling, while some unfortunates have been murdered by others on the system. Other sad souls have used the network to “end it all” by throwing themselves in front of a speeding train, although recently track work has included “suicide pits” which allowed the trains to pass over without injury. There have been train crashes, derailments and major fires on the network that have all claimed lives. In the dark days of the Blitz on London, the Luftwaffe scored direct hits on a number of Underground stations causing devastation, disruption and loss of life and the Underground has also been the target of terrorists on more than one occasion. The most recent terrorist attack occurred on 7th July 2005 when suicide bombers claimed the lives of 56 people.(including the 4 bombers)
During the construction of the London Underground it has carved its way through a veritable charnel house of decaying corpses…many of whom were interred with little or no dignity and without any funerary rights and that it has also witnessed thousands of sudden and often very violent deaths since it first opened for business in 1863, It is no wonder that the London Underground has acquired a reputation for ghostly goings on?
Liverpool Street Station, the London terminus of the former Great Eastern Railway, is actually built upon a plague pit as is Aldgate Station (on the Circle Line) and the Piccadilly Line between Knightsbridge and South Kensington is said to curve around "a pit so dense with human remains that it could not be tunnelled through".
The underground passages and tunnels of London hold many secrets, and one of those secrets was uncovered recently while engineers were working on Thameslink Programme rail improvements in south London.
Engineers stumbled across the remains of a ‘ghost station’. Southwark Park Station hasn’t seen a commuter in 100 years, having opened in 1902 but closed down in 1915 during the Great War.
Sadly the Victorian viaduct where the station was found is to be replaced by the improvement works; however the arch which housed the booking hall to the station will remain.
It perhaps may seem strange that the majority of ghost or phantom sightings are of Victorian age or before. The more modern sightings are primarily made by those who work in the dark tunnel environment and know what is normal or what is supernatural.
It could be that the pace of modern life is such that people do not notice occurrences that could be considered out of the ordinary. Shouting and screaming are commonplace; few people look at their fellow travellers although a phantom steam engine would make most look twice.
A trip on the tube these days is either packed to the gunwales, preventing you from noticing anything strange, or on the more quiet days there are people in outrageous makeup, clothes and so on. The world is a strange place these days and unless you open your ears and eyes all of the above and things to come will pass you by.
Copyright: Peter Geekie July 2016
- Aviation ghosts and mysteries
Flying has always been a dangerous occupation but in war time life is precarious. It is not surprising that ghostly spirits return to the place of their death until they find peace.
© 2016 Peter Geekie