Monday, 22 September 2008

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

Elephant and Castle

Often, after some late night, drunken bowling in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, I've caught a late train back home from Elephant and Castle. But maybe I should be pleased I have never stayed so late as to need to take the last train...

Stories say that on the last Bakerloo line train each night the ghost of a girl passes from one end of the train to the other before disappearing when she reaches the drivers cab.

Eyewitness testimony from h2g2
"'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 - and I should apologise to all who are condemned to this line - not my fault Really. Heh! Heh!)

So 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.'

Lovely - my first real ghost is a media celebrity, - and, it must be said, very, very boring indeed."
After the station has closed employees have reported hearing the footfalls of a runner and tapping in the elevators.

Finally there is a rather spooky Bakerloo line urban myth. On northbound trains (i.e. those starting at Elephant and Castle) you might sometimes see the reflection of someone sitting next you, when nobody is.

So what have we learnt from this? Never, ever take the last train from Elephant and Castle and it's best to travel in groups on northbound Bakerloo trains ;)

Covent Garden

This is one of the more famous cases. I don't know whether you've ever been to visit the station at Covent Garden but it is a very old fashioned place where it doesn't take much to feel like you've been transported back a hundred years. One piece of advice to the wise, never use the stairs!! They just go round and round forever. I once stupidly decided to as the queue for the lift was huge and I'm sure I encountered some lost souls sitting on the steps halfway up who'd started the journey sometime in the late eighties and were still trying to get up to the top. I think this might be one possible explanation for ghosts at the station... they don't disappear they just never make it to the top of the stairs!!

There is a very good article on the hauntings here at including some eyewitness testimony.

The interesting thing about this haunting is that the sightings are very consistent in their detail across several people and even the fact that the name supposedly heard spoken by the ghost turned out to be the name of an actor, William Terriss, who not only bore an amazing resemblance to the ghost but who used to frequent the bakery on the site many years ago.

Northern Line

Now comes a compelling case. In 1984 Paul Fisher was training to be a manager on the Underground. As part of his training he had to carry out a series of every day tasks for various jobs on the system. One of these jobs was track walking on his own towards Stockwell. On his way through the tunnel he encountered a workman holding an old oil lamp. They exchanged pleasantries and Fisher stopped for a second to inquire after the lamp, which was a tad old fashioned. The man just said he preferred an oil lamp, and Fisher said goodbye and finished his walk.

At the end he quickly informed the relevant people that he was out of the tunnel, and in passing mentioned he'd had a nice chat with a guy down there. They were confused, no one else should of been down there. They quickly organised a search party as it was now getting close to service needing to restart for the day and they couldn't do that if there was still a man in the tunnel. The search overran as no man could be found, much to the inconvenience of the traveling public and Fisher got called before his trainer to explain himself.

His trainer thought he was playing a prank as, the trainer went on to say, there's a story of the ghost of a worker who died in that tunnel (called South Island Place). Fisher was a little put off by this... he'd never heard that story before!

In the 1950s a worker was killed there when he failed to hear an oncoming train. The driver of the train reported he was holding a tilly lamp at the moment of the collision. Creepy.

Next time I return to this subject I'll be asking what makes the London Underground the most haunted transport network in the world. Let me just say I've been doing some research and I can barely find any ghosts stories on the New York Subway or the Paris Metro. What makes the London Underground so different?? I've found a few good theories including one scientific theory which is absolutely fascinating.

P.S. if you do know any ghost stories from the New York Subway, Paris Metro or any other subterranean transport systems please let me know.

Further Reading

Haunted London Underground - David Brandon and Alan Brooke


Miladysa said...

THIS is SOOOO my kind of blog!!!!

I have not got time to read this now but I will be back later :-D

Ken said...

And here I expected a few curt tales of folks who didn't "mind the gap"...

I wish I had known these stories 9 years ago. I would've killed more time using my week pass. Not that it wasn't amusing enough trying to escape Trafalgar Square on New Years Eve and catching the last tube back, sitting across from a drunken gay couple asking me the time (followed by a muttered "Happy New Years" and intoxicated smiles).