Ghosts on the London Underground

The London Underground is more than 140 years old, 253 miles long and carves its way beneath London's most historic sites, disturbing what was laid to rest centuries ago. It is no surprise that many strange tales and ghostly sightings are associated with the Underground.

Plague pits dug during the outbreak of Bubonic plague in the 17th century have proved a 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 in the bubonic plague crisis. No ghostly activity has been reported but few staff are willing to go down there, particularly at night.

The next time you're travelling on the London Underground bear in mind that, while you're looking at the destination board for the next train, you can't see who, or what is behind you. Mind the Ghosts...

Here are some of the ghosts that are reputed to haunt the London Underground.

Aldwych Station

Aldwych station was open in 1907. The line was originally part of the Piccadilly line. With 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 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 staff who clean the tunnels and stations. The ghost is believed to be an actress who believes she has not enjoyed her last curtain call. Aldwych used to be on the site of the old Royal Strand Theatre.

A 15 strong camera crew from TV's Most Haunted spent 24 hours at Aldwych station in 2oo2. Derek Achorah 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 another platform, a motion detector was set off, yet nobody was near enough to trigger it.

Bank Station

Workmen who were building Bank station during the last century disturbed the spirit of the 'Black Nun'. The Nun's brother, Phillip Whitehead, was a cashier at the bank and was executed in 1811 for forgery. After his execution the Nun, who was always dressed in black, waited for him outside the bank every evening for 40 years until she died. It is said that to this day, she still searches for him along the platforms.

Over many years there have also been many reports of a foul unexplained smells and feelings of sadness, concern and hopelessness by many workers and travellers here.

No-one can explain this, but it is suspected that the station was dug through one of London's many plague pits, the burial place of thousands of plague victims in the 17th Century.

British Museum Station

A double whammy here - a ghost station and a ghost. British Museum station closed on the 25 September, 1933. There was a local myth that the station was haunted by the ghost of an Ancient Egyptian. Dressed in a loincloth and headdress, the figure would emerge late at night. The rumour grew so strong that a newspaper offered a reward to anyone who would spend the night there. No one attempted to do this!

The story takes a stranger turn after the closure of the station. 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 it was based on the ghost story of British Museum.

On the same night that the film was released, two women disappeared from the platform at Holborn - the next station along from where British Museum was. Marks were later found on the walls of the closed station. More sightings of the ghost were reported along with strange moanings from the walls of the tunnels. Eventually the story was hushed up as London Underground has always denied the existence of the tunnel from the station to the Egyptian Room.

Covent Garden

A tall man in a frock coat, tall hat and gloves is said to be pacing the tunnels and has been seen since the 1950s. When he appeared in the staff rest room the staff demanded a transfer - no wonder they look so miserable.

The ghost is supposed to be actor William Terriss who was fatally stabbed near the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand in December 1897. Apparently William regularly visited a baker's shop which stood where today's Tube station was built.

Elephant and Castle Station

When this station is closed people say that you can hear the steps of an invisible runner, strange tappings and doors being thrown open. What follows is a genuine testimony from a tube driver on the London Underground.

'Twas around six of the evening at a Bakerloo line Underground Station - about a week ago. I was in pursuit of my duties as an employee of London Underground - Northern Line
I join the train at the terminus at Elephant and Castle and walk forward to the front of the train with a view to travelling with the driver. At this point the driver has not arrived so I put my bag down and move to the rear door to wait for him. While I am waiting a girl gets into the carraige - she walks straight through the carriage and I have to move aside making some muttered apology - I sort of have to do this since I was in uniform!
A minute or so later the driver turns up, and we move toward the front of the train. I notice that the girl is not in the carriage and this is a rather immediate cause for concern - she could not have left the train without passing me - I had full view of the carraige and platform at the time. My reaction was to inform the driver - the only place she could have gone was to have walked down the tunnel - not really what we want! The driver's response was unusual: 'Oh, her. We hear about her all the time - she's even been in the papers.'

Farringdon Station

A 13-year-old trainee hat maker, Anne Naylor, was murdered in 1758 by her trainer and the trainer's daughter. People claim to hear her cries echoing down Farringdon Station. She has been nicknamed 'The Screaming Spectre'.

Highgate Station

In 1941 Highgate station was rebuilt to join an extension from the Northern Line. However, the project was abandoned and the cutting became overgrown. Nevertheless residents still claim to hear eerie sounds of trains going through the cutting.

South Kensington Station

Now here's a sighting of a ghost train. A passenger from the last westbound tube saw a train pull into South Ken station in December 1928. An ear-piercing whistle broke through the night and the passenger spotted a ghostly figure in a reefer jacket and peaked cap hanging from the side of the engine. Both the man and the train then vanished into the tunnel never to be seen again.

Aldgate Station

Spooky doesn't always have to mean malevolent. A few years ago, an electrician working at Aldgate made what should have been a fatal slip, sending 22,000 volts through his body. He was knocked unconscious, bruising his forehead - but somehow was otherwise unharmed. Unknown to him, his colleagues had been watching him just before it happened, and had seen a half-transparent figure of an old woman was stroking his hair.

Steam Train

Location: N2 (Greater London) - East Finchley to Wellington Sidings underground
This stretch of the Northern Line is reputed to be haunted by a spectral steam engine

Sounds of a Train

Location: N6 (Greater London) - 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.

Bricked Up Train

Location: SE19 (Greater London) - Area below Crystal Palace Park
A local legend states that there is a train bricked up under the park, complete with dead passengers and crew - sometimes the hands of the dead reach up from the ground and try to grab the living..!


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