Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Ghosts That Go!: A Summary Of The Ghosts Of The Underground Part One

I've taken a look around the internet and I have found a lot of stories of ghosts on the London underground, most taken from the awesome "Going Underground". Sadly most lack any sort of depth, no dates of sightings and no names of witnesses. In fact they read as "ghost stories" to scare rather than anything substantial.

So here is my attempt to supplement those mentioned in the famous Going Underground list:

Liverpool Street Station

In the summer of 2000, a line controller was watching his CCTV feeds in the early hours. Around about 2 a.m. he spotted a man in white overalls standing on the platform at Liverpool Street Station near the entrance to the eastbound tunnel. The line controller phoned the station supervisor, Steve Coates, and asked him to go and find out what the man was doing as no workmen were required on the station that night.

Coates went to the platform, looked around, even went and took a look in the tunnels and found nobody and so went back out to a phone near the stairs and told the line controller there was nobody there. The line controller was perplexed... he'd seen Steve stand right next to the guy on his CCTV!!

Coates was certain he hadn't seen anything but went back again to check. Nothing. Again the line controller could still the man, and Steve kept just walking past him. Coates asked whether this was perhaps a blip on the system? No the controller was certain it wasn't. Coates returned one final time, called the controller once more and said there was definitely no one there before he headed off... but as he walked away he saw a bench.. and lying on it was a pair of white overalls.

That left him with a very chilly feeling.

I've written about the Bank Nun and I'll admit to being slightly dismissive due to some of the... inconsistencies in the story. Well now I have actual eyewitness testimony! Joy! Still not too sure but...

In 1982 Andy Harkness was working the late shift. He checked each of the station lifts for passengers, then he shut them off. After finishing he heard a knocking coming from lift number 1. He choose to ignore it, he'd checked that lift was empty and he didn't like what a knocking coming from inside that lift might mean. He headed upstairs and opened the panel to shut off the lights. After finishing he walked away and the panel slammed loudly shut behind him. Deciding not to look back Harkness ran out of the station. And never went back.

Cliff Archibald was working a late shift himself when he had his strange encounter. He spotted on the CCTV display an old lady standing in the middle of a corridor. He left his colleague in the control room and headed down to try and see if he could lend her assistance as she must obviously be lost.

He walked up some stairs and spotted her in the corridor. She looked at him and then turned away and walked off. He ran to catch up but she had disappeared. There was no way she could have walked a distance beyond his sight line in the length of time it took him to run to her. He went further down the corridor to find a closed, locked gate. His colleague in the control room checked over 100 camera feeds to see if he could find any trace of her. She was nowhere to be found. Mr Archibald considers himself a sceptic and is still to this day disturbed by his inability to think up a logical explanation.

The Kennington loop
This story really sends chills down my spine, and thankfully I doubt it's a situation I will find myself in!

The Kennington is a line of track that allows southbound trains at Kennington to turn around and go north. Southbound passengers alight at Kennington and the empty train heads around the loop. No one but the driver and other staff members should ever be on board during these loops, mainly because trains can sit in the loop for long periods of time awaiting their signals.

Bob Cann was a driver on board a train in the loop and was idly waiting for the signals to allow him to start his journey northwards. The train was empty. He heard the unmistakable sounds of the interconnecting doors between carriages opening and closing... and getting ever closer. He searched the train, thinking that a passenger was onboard and in their frustration was trying to reach the drivers cab to report their presence. No one was on board, some of the interconnecting, previously latched, doors were open and there was no way for anyone to have gotten on or off the train whilst in the loop.

A guard, on a different train with a different driver reported the same thing. When he checked, thinking it was his driver heading towards him there was nobody there.

However, sceptic hat firmly on, I have found one persons explanation for this ghost at this forum:

"forget the kenning ton loop "ghost" I was a guard for many years on the Northern line and yes the doors did close with a bang. REASON - when you arrived at kennington you used to tip out the train yourself so you ended up at the front with the driver, so you was in position on the northbound you walked back through the train As it left Kennington (not bothering to close them behind you) so as the train progressed around the loop the camber in the track caused the doors (quite heavy if you remember) to slam shut on their own. ONLY SPOOKY IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHY IT'S HAPPENING."
Now supposedly somebody was killed attempting to board the train between carriages at Kennington, and this is often quoted as the source of the supposed haunting.

Hyde Park Corner

Barry Oakley was working in the station one evening in November 1978. He and his colleague shut off the escalators, shut off the breaker (cutting the electricity supply) and headed back to their office. There was some sort of commotion being caused in the ticket hall and they went out to sort out the problem. On the way they were bemused to note the escalator was running again, despite it requiring a key that was in their possession to switch it back on. They sorted out the problems in the ticket hall and returned to their office.

Suddenly Oakley had an awful sensation of being watched, he turned around to his colleague and found his colleague up against a wall and white as a sheet. It took him 10 minutes to get his colleague to explain what was wrong.

"Did you see the face? It came through the wall!!".

His colleague left straight away and never came back to work at Hyde Park Corner station.


A station worker was sitting in an office down near the platforms when the gates between the platforms. It wasn't unusual, sometimes passing trains cause that. A short while later, they rattled again and he ignored it. When they rattled for a third time in quick succession he knew no train was causing it. He decided it was best to head up to see a colleague of his and get some company. As he walked up some stairs he had the feeling he was being watched. He looked down the stairs and at the bottom was a lady in a white dress with no face "watching" him.

He rushed to his colleague who said he looked like he'd seen a ghost. He said he had! His colleague remarked: "Oh was it a lady in a white dress?" It would seem his colleague had seen the ghost before. In 1958 there had been a fatal train crash at the station.

So next time your are traveling on our beloved underground system maybe take a moment to consider the history of the place. What might the tunnels have disturbed when they were built? What might have happened on the very spot you are standing? Who may have lost their lives just down the way from you? Keep your eyes open and maybe take a friend, as you wouldn't want to find yourself alone down there, now would you?

Check out the documentary "Ghosts of the Underground" which was a great help to my armchair researching methods, you can watch it on Youtube. Part One is here and follow the links from there.

Tomorrow we'll be looking at something a little different to ghosts, but this summary will continue at some point with a few more stories plus the research into a possible explanation for the cause of so many disturbances on the underground network.

If you've had any ghostly experiences on the underground or anywhere, drop your email address in a comment and I'll happily get in contact.

Further Reading

Haunted London Underground - David Brandon and Alan Brooke

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