Ghosts of the London Underground
Posted on Friday, 12 September, 2008 | 11 comments
Columnist: Mike Heffernan
The London Underground… over 50% of which is actually above ground… serves a large part of Greater London and neighbouring areas in Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It is commonly known as the Underground or the Tube, the latter nick-name deriving from the shape of the system's deep-bore tunnels. It is not only the longest underground railway in the world by route length (over 250 miles) it is also the world’s oldest. The Metropolitan Railway Company opened its Metropolitan Line for business on 10th January 1863 and within months its trains were carrying over 26,000 passengers daily. Today, 145 years later, the London Underground can boast 11 lines (Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City). It serves 268 stations by rail and an additional 6 stations that were on the East London line (closed in 2007) are served by Underground replacement buses. 14 Underground stations are outside Greater London and 5 of those (Amersham, Chalfont & Latimer, Chesham, Chorleywood, Epping) are beyond the M25 London Orbital motorway. Of the 32 London boroughs, only 6 (Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston, Sutton and Hackney) are not served by the Underground network. In 2007 a billion people travelled on the network.
Ever since the first line was opened in 1863, however, one of the major headaches facing the engineers and the army of construction workers commissioned to expand and develop the network has been the presence of huge burial pits dating back to the summer of 1665 when London was ravaged by an outbreak of bubonic plague (a.k.a. the Black Death).
Since 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 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 traumatising several brawny construction workers on site.
To the southern end of the London Road Depot (Bakerloo Line) there are two tunnels. One exits onto the running line between Lambeth North and Elephant & Castle stations. The other is a dead-end tunnel designed to stop runaway trains. Behind the wall, however, at the end of this particular dead-end tunnel is yet another one of London’s many plague pits.
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".
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 the network. People have been killed maintaining the network. People have died of natural causes on the network. People have been murdered on the network. Others have used the network to “end it all” by throwing themselves in front of a speeding train. 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, Adolf Hitler’s 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 scores of people.
Given that the London Underground 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, is it any wonder that the London Underground has acquired a reputation for ghostly goings on?
As someone who has, from a very early age, firmly believed that the soul survives the physical death of the body it would actually be more of a shock to me if the London Underground wasn’t haunted and what follows, therefore, is a quick trawl (in alphabetical order) through some of the Underground’s most often repeated ghost stories.
I sincerely hope that the reader will enjoy reading these stories as much as I did researching them for this article. ALDGATE TUBE STATION
This tube station is located at Aldgate in the City of London. On the Circle Line between Tower Hill and Liverpool Street it is the eastern terminus of the Metropolitan Line and it was opened on November 18, 1876. It 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 plague of 1665. The station was badly damaged by German bombing during World War II.
Some years ago, an electrician working at the station made what should have been his last mistake. Somehow he managed to send over 20,000 volts of electricity through his own body. By all accounts he should have been killed. Instead, however, he was just knocked unconscious and, apart from bruising his forehead, he was otherwise unharmed. His colleagues had been watching him just before the accident happened. Once he had sufficiently recovered, his colleagues all swore that, just prior to the incident that should have claimed his life, they had seen an almost transparent figure of an old lady standing alongside him gently stroking his hair. I guess the electrician wasn’t the only one who had a shock that fateful day…
Phantom footsteps, that end abruptly, have also been heard coming from within the tunnel. ALDWYCH TUBE STATION
This is a disused tube station on the Piccadilly Line. Opened in 1907 as Strand Station it was originally intended to be the southern terminus of the Great Northern and Strand Railway. Re-named Aldwych Station in 1917 it ended up as the terminus for a very short branch line to Holborn. This branch line was closed during World War 2 and its tunnels were used as air raid shelters and to store various national treasures from the British Museum including the Elgin Marbles. Re-opened after the War it was finally closed on 30th September 1994 when the cost of refurbishing the lifts at the station was deemed to be uneconomic.
Situated at the junction of the Strand and Surrey Street, the L-shaped surface building has been largely restored to its former glory. Its well preserved interior has made it a very popular location for trendy parties, book launches & art exhibitions. 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). The station facade was also used as a base-location in the BBC Three documentary series Spy and Firestar’s Waste a Moment video was shot here. It is also featured on Level 12 of the Tomb Raider video game.
As it was built on the site of the old Royal Strand Theatre it is perhaps fitting that its resident ghost is that of an actress that once trod its boards. Over the years, numerous people have claimed to have seen her agitated ghost wandering the Station’s deserted platforms and eerie tunnels late at night. BAKERLOO LINE
Over the years, a number of passengers travelling north on the Bakerloo Line have reported seeing the ghostly reflection in the carriage window of someone sitting next to them even though the seat next to them is actually empty. BANK & MONUMENT COMPLEX
Bank and Monument are interlinked stations, spanning the length of King William Street in the City of London. Servicing five Underground lines, plus the Docklands Light Railway, which runs into Bank together they form the seventh busiest station on the network. Officially, the stations are known as the Bank-Monument Complex, although 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.
On January 11, 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.
It is not, however, a victim of that dreadful January day that haunts Bank Station. It is the ghost of Phillip Whitehead’s sister, Sarah.
Phillip Whitehead was as a cashier at the Bank of England. Arrested for forging cheques he was subsequently tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty and hanged in 1811. The tragedy drove Sarah quite mad and for the next 25 years…the rest of her life in fact…she came to the Bank every day dressed completely in black, in the forlorn hope of finding her brother. For that reason her ghostly apparition has acquired the nick-name the Black Nun. Some people believe that Sarah’s daily presence in and around the Bank was the reason why the Bank of England acquired the nick-name of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, a nick-name it still enjoys to this day.
Sarah’s ghost has been glimpsed on numerous occasions in the Bank’s garden and on the platforms and passageways of Bank Station and there have also been reports of foul, unexplained smells and feelings of great sadness, anxiety and hopelessness in the station. BECONTREE STATION
Becontree is a quiet, commuter over-ground station on the District Line in east London. Opened in 1932 it has 4 platforms but only 2 are currently in use.
In 1992 a Station Supervisor, working a late shift became un-nerved when a door in his office that opened onto the national railways platform rattled three times for no apparent reason. Feeling distinctly uncomfortable he left his office to find one of his colleagues upstairs for a reassuring chat. He walked along the platform but, as he neared the staircase, he had the distinct impression that someone was walking behind him. Turning round he was confronted with the rather disturbing image of a woman in a white dress with long blond hair but with no face. There was, in his words, just a “blank” where her features should have been. The image faded away after a few seconds. When he spoke to his colleague shortly after, his colleague confirmed that he too had seen the apparition.
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. BETHNAL GREEN TUBE STATION
When Britain declared War on Germany in September 1939 Bethnal Green Station (on the Circle Line), as one of the few deep level stations in the east end of London, it was an obvious choice for a huge public air raid shelter. Situated in a densely populated urban area, the shelter contained 5,000 bunks and had at times held up to 7,000 people. It is particularly tragic, therefore, that the station that had saved so many lives at the height of the blitz on London (September 1940 to May 1941) became the site of Britain’s worst civilian disaster of the War.
Following heavy bombing of Berlin by the RAF on 1st March, 1943 many Londoners…anticipating a retaliatory strike by the German Luftwaffe…decided in the days immediately following the Berlin raid to get into the underground shelters early i.e. to settle down for the night before the sirens actually sounded and so, at 8.17 p.m. on the night of 3rd March, 1943 when the air raid sirens across London sounded to announce another German air raid, about 500 people were already sheltering inside the station.
Between 8.17 p.m. and 8.27 p.m. a further 1,500 people safely negotiated the solitary staircase into the station. It was raining outside so the steps were wet and slippery. 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.
At 8.27 p.m. a terrifying explosion was heard as a 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 German bomb had exploded nearby and unease quickly turned to blind panic.
As the crowd surged forward and began to press down the slippery steps, 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 staircase itself …by the hundreds of people still coming down the stairs from the street above completely unaware of the tragedy that was unfolding literally beneath their feet.
173 people (27 men, 84 women and 62 children) - more than the victims of the Paddington, Moorgate and King’s Cross disasters and the 7 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 as the Station Supervisor in 1981 found out to his cost..
The last train had long since departed and all the staff, apart from him, had gone home for the night. Having secured the station and turned off some of the station lights he had 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 but the sound of the crying steadily grew louder and louder. Then he began to hear agitated female voices followed by loud, heart-rending screams and other loud noises that he couldn’t identify. This cacophony of sound…which he said sounded like “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 been very frightening and it was something that he would remember for the rest of his life. BRITISH MUSEUM TUBE STATION
This abandoned tube station on the Circle Line (it closed on 25th September 1933) was said to be haunted by the spirit of a long dead Egyptian Princess whose mummified remains are in the nearby British Museum. A national newspaper once offered a reward to anyone who would dare to a night in the station on his/her own but no-one took up the challenge. COVENT GARDEN TUBE STATION
Covent Garden tube station is on the corner of Long Acre and James Street and is one of the few underground stations in Central London that doesn’t have any escalators. Platform access is by stairs (195 steps) and lift only. It is on the Piccadilly Line between Leicester Square and Holborn.
The station is said to be haunted by the ghost of an English actor by the name of 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 “action man” style he gained the nick-name of “Breezy Bill”.
On 16th December 1897 as he was entering the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand to prepare for the evening's performance of a play called “Secret Service”, 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 dying in the arms of his leading lady he is supposed to have whispered to her “I’ll be back”. Now where have I heard that line before?
An employee of the London Underground who saw his ghost in the Station in 1955 …and who subsequently identified him from a photograph of the actor that was taken in his hey-day….described him as very tall and distinguished gentleman “wearing an old-fashioned grey suit with a funny looking old-style collar and light coloured gloves”.
In addition to haunting Covent Garden Station, which stands on the site of a bakery he frequently visited in life, Breezy Bill is also said to haunt the Lyceum Theatre which is just off the Strand and possibly the Adelphi Theatre where staff in the early 1950s witnessed a similar apparition to the one seen in Covent Garden Station in 1955. They called their ghostly visitor “Charlie”.
The last reported sighting of Breezy Bill’s ghost at Covent Garden Station was in 1972 although members of staff have, in the intervening years, reported hearing strange noises and phantom footsteps on the platforms when no-one was there. ELEPHANT & CASTLE TUBE STATION
The station is on the Bank Branch between Kennington and Borough and it is the southern terminus of the Bakerloo Line. It is also said to be haunted.
Maintenance and cleaning staff working in the station late at night have reported hearing the sound of someone running along the deserted platform. The phantom runner has been heard on numerous occasions but has never been seen. In addition, strange tapping sounds have been heard on the platform and doors in the station have been known to suddenly slam for no apparent reason.
A ghost that has been seen by both staff and commuters alike is that of a young woman who has been seen boarding a train at the station only to disappear completely once the train starts to pull out of the station. EMBANKMENT TUBE STATION (Pages Walk)
This tube station is in central London near Trafalgar Square and Fleet Street. It is one of the network’s busiest inter-change stations serving the Bakerloo, Circle, District and Northern Lines. Over the years, many of the station staff and contractors have reported very strange feelings and unusual experiences in one of the station’s disused tunnels that runs under the River Thames. The tunnel is known as Pages Walk.
Witnesses 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.
They have also reported the presence of “cold spots” and that that the atmosphere inside the tunnel is oppressive and menacing. It seems that whoever haunts Pages Walk has no desire to share it with he living… FARRINGDON TUBE STATION
The station is in Clerkenwell in the London Borough of Islington. It serves the Metropolitan, the Hammersmith & City and the Circle Lines and is said to be haunted by the ghost of a 13 year old girl named Ann or Annie Naylor, an apprentice hat maker. This unfortunate girl was brutally murdered in 1758 by the man to whom she was indentured and his wife. The murder took place in a building that was demolished to make way for the station which opened in September 1863. Many people, over the years, have heard her tormented screams and cries in the bowels of the station earning her the nick-name of “the Screaming Spectre”.HIGHGATE HIGH-LEVEL STATION & PLATFORMS
Highgate high-level station & platforms (now abandoned and derelict) are situated in a cutting between two pairs of tunnels directly above today's Highgate Station on the Northern Line. Although today the station buildings and the platforms are “off limits” to the general public they can clearly be seen from various vantage points in the surrounding area. These high level platforms once served a railway line that ran from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace. In the late 1930s a plan was put forward to fully electrify the line and to integrate it into the Northern Line but, thanks to the Second World War, the plan was never implemented. The line continued to be used by steam trains until 1954 when it was finally closed. The actual rails, however, were not removed until the 1980s.
According to local residents, however, the eerie sound of trains passing through the disused cutting, now overgrown with weeds, has been heard on numerous occasions. HYDE PARK CORNER TUBE STATION
This station is on the Piccadilly Line between Knightsbridge Station and Green Park Station. It is one of the few stations on the London Underground that has no associated buildings above ground. The station is completely underground.
In November 1978 a gentleman by the name of Mr. Barry Oakley was the Station Supervisor working the over-night shift at Hyde Park Corner. He had closed & emptied the station and had shut the escalators down. Having checked that he had properly removed the breakers…a piece of equipment designed to stop the escalators from moving…he and a colleague returned to the Station Supervisor’s office.
At about 2.30 am there was a “commotion” in the booking hall area. When he and his colleague left the office to investigate they discovered that the escalator they had come up on was actually back-on and working. They both found that very strange because, with the breakers out, the escalator wasn’t…as far as they knew…connected to any electricity supply and to start an escalator running a special key needed to be used. It was about 3.20 am when he and his colleague got back to the Supervisor’s Office having conducted a very thorough…but fruitless …search to discover what had caused the “commotion” they had both heard in the booking hall area.
Feeling more than a little un-nerved at the night’s strange events, Mr. Oakley decided to make them both a hot cup of tea. As he did so, however, a feeling that he was being watched by an invisible presence in the office grew in intensity. In addition, the temperature in the office suddenly plummeted to such an extent that he could actually see his breath as he exhaled. At that point he turned round and noticed that his colleague was leaning against a table that was up against the office wall and that he was extremely pale and clearly in a very distressed state. It took Mr. Oakley about 5 or 10 minutes to get his colleague to open-up to him about what was wrong and, when he did, he simply asked him “Did you see the face?”
His colleague then told him that as he (Mr. Oakley) 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 againICKENHAM TUBE STATION
Ickenham tube station is located in Ickenham in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The station is on the Uxbridge branch of both the Metropolitan Line and the Piccadilly line between Ruislip and Hillingdon stations.
First appearing in the 1950s the ghost of a woman who fell onto the track and was electrocuted is said to haunt the station. Wearing a distinctive bright red scarf she invariably appears at the end of the platform, close to where she fell to her death. She has been known to wave to other people on the platform ...as if to attract their attention…before suddenly vanishing before their very eyes. JUBILEE LINE EXTENSION (Various Stations)
The Jubilee Line Extension (which begins just south of Green Park Station and terminates at Stratford Station in east London) was constructed in the 1990s and opened just before Christmas in 1999.
The extension 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.
Just like every other line on the London Underground, every mile of the Jubilee Line is checked each night…on foot…by track-walking patrolmen who walk the dark tunnels on their own.
A patrol man, with over 20 year’s experience, had a very frightening experience whilst walking the track one night between Baker Street station and St. John’s Wood station. As he sat down for a break he suddenly heard …and saw…heavy footsteps crunching down on the ballast between the railway sleepers. The ballast was being disturbed with every step. It was as if an invisible entity was physically walking down the track. As he sat there with his mouth open in a state of disbelief, the footsteps continued right past where he was sitting but then stopped about ten yards further up the tunnel. After he regained his composure he managed to complete the track-walk.
In the early hours of the morning, just before his shift came to an end, he told a colleague what had happened to him on the walk. To his surprise, his colleague didn’t ridicule his account or call him crazy. On the contrary, his colleague told him that other patrol men and maintenance workers had experienced the same thing on that part of the Jubilee Line. His colleague went on to say that there used to be a patrol man who, prior to his death, used to walk that particular stretch of track on a regular basis and it was probably his ghost that he had encountered earlier in the night.
Records show that at least 5 maintenance staff have been killed on that particular stretch of track. KENNINGTON LOOP
A “balloon loop” is a track arrangement that allows a train to reverse direction and return to where it has come from without the need to shunt or, in some case, even stop.
One such “balloon loop” exists south of Kennington Station (Northern Line) and is known as the Kennington Loop. The loop tunnel allows southbound Charing Cross Branch trains to be terminated at Kennington Station. Then, empty of passengers, they run round the loop to begin their return journey north.
A least 2 train drivers, sitting alone on their empty trains waiting for permission to proceed through the loop, have reported hearing the un-nerving sound of the connecting doors between the carriages opening and closing as if someone was walking through the carriages towards the driving compartment. KING’S CROSS ST. PANCRAS TUBE STATION
King's Cross St. Pancras tube station is in the London Borough of Camden and is the biggest interchange station on the London Underground, with six lines on four pairs of tracks. In May 1998 a young woman in her twenties with long brown hair, wearing jeans and a t-shirt was spotted kneeling at the side of one of the station’s entry corridors by a passer-by. She had her arms outstretched and was crying piteously. The passer-by stopped and was just about to speak to her to find out what was wrong and to offer some assistance when someone walking down the corridor from the opposite direction passed straight through the woman without breaking step. The apparition then promptly vanished. It was only then that the would-be “good Samaritan” realised that the young lady had been a phantom.
On 18th November, 1987 a devastating fire at the station killed 31 people but it is impossible to say whether this apparition is in any way connected to that fire and, since I have not been able to find any other subsequent sighting reports, the sighting in May 1998 appears to be have been a “one-off” event. KING WILLIAM STREET TUNNEL
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, commissioned by London Transport to take pictures for a book the Company was bringing out, took a series of photographic slides in the old tunnel and was surprised to see, on one of the slides, the slightly translucent image 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. LIVERPOOL STREET STATION
Liverpool Street Station (a.k.a. London Liverpool Street), with approximately 123 million visitors a year, is the UK’s third busiest station after Victoria and Waterloo. It is located in the north eastern corner of the City of London. The connected tube station is the fifth busiest tube station on the underground network with 4 lines passing through it (3 sub-surface and 1 deep level). CCTV footage from every station in London is monitored 24 hours a day by Line Controllers based in a separate location.
In the summer of 2000 the Line Controller who was monitoring the footage from Liverpool Street Station noticed a man dressed in white overalls standing in the entrance of the Central Line’s eastbound tunnel. What made it so unusual was the fact that it was 2.00 am. The station had been closed for the night and there were no contractors scheduled to be working there. The Line Controller rang the Station Supervisor, a man with 23 years of experience of working on the underground, and asked to him to investigate.
The Station Supervisor went down to the eastbound tunnel and looked in it and all around the immediate area but could find no trace of the man in the white overalls. Using a telephone at the foot of the escalator he rang the line controller and told him that he had conducted a thorough search of the area but hadn’t been able to find the man.
The Line Controller, clearly perplexed said “But this guy was standing next to you. How could you not see him?”
The Station Supervisor assured him that he had conducted a very thorough check of the area and that there was definitely no-one down there. He even asked the Line Controller whether the image of the man could have been the result of a “blip” on the CCTV system but, when he was assured that the system was in perfect working order, he agreed to conduct a second search of the area just to be absolutely certain.
The Station Supervisor went and conducted another search of the area but the result was the same as the first. He could not find any trace of the man in the tunnel or in the immediate vicinity of the tunnel.
He returned to the telephone at the foot of the escalator, called the Line Controller and told him that the second search had also failed to find any trace of the man in the white overalls. The Line Controller was insistent, however, that as he watched the second search of the area on his TV screen being conducted he had clearly seen the man in white overalls standing within touching distance of the Station Supervisor.
Reluctantly accepting what the Station Supervisor had told him, the Line Controller thanked him for carrying out the searches and rang off.
As the Station Supervisor turned and walked back onto the eastbound platform he noticed to his left a bench and on that bench was there was a pair of white paper overalls.
The Station Supervisor was certain that if anyone had walked out of the tunnel whilst he had been on the telephone he would have seen them and he would also have seen anyone leaving the overalls on the platform bench.
What happened that night at Liverpool Street tube station remains, therefore, yet another unsolved mystery of the London Underground. NORTHERN LINE (Between Oval & Stockwell Tube Stations)
In 1984 a trainee manager was required (as part of his training programme) to walk the tunnel of the Northern Line…when all the trains had stopped running for the night…between Oval and Stockwell stations.
As he trudged up the dark and silent tunnel, armed only with his battery powered torch, he came across an older man working in a wider section of the tunnel. The workman was using an old fashion Tilly lamp. These paraffin fuelled lamps had once been in common use on the London Underground but, by 1984, they had all but disappeared having been replaced by battery powered torches.
The trainee manager stopped for a chat with the workman.
The trainee manager made a comment about how unusual it was to see someone still using an old Tilly lamp to which the workman replied that he preferred the Tilly lamp to the new torches. The trainee manager then asked the workman whether this wider section of the tunnel had a name and was told it was called South Island Place. After saying goodnight to each other, the trainee manager set off again on up the tunnel and arrived shortly after at Stockwell Station.
He then rang the station supervisor at Oval Station to inform him that he had safely completed the required track-walk and that the track appeared to be in good order. He was just about to hang up the receiver when he suddenly remembered the workman he had seen and so he told the supervisor about the workman he had seen in South Island Place. The supervisor then informed him that there was not supposed to be anyone working on that section of the line that night. A search of the track between Oval and Stockwell Stations was hastily organised to locate the workman but no trace of him was ever found.
The trainee manager later found out that the ghost of a workman who had been killed by a train in the 1950s near South Island Place had been seen on numerous occasions. The workman had been operating a very noisy compressor at the time of the accident and he probably never heard the sound of the approaching train that was about to end his life. The unfortunate driver of the train that killed him reported that, at the time of the fatal collision, the man had been carrying a Tilly lamp…SOUTH KENSINGTON TUBE STATION
South Kensington tube station is in Kensington, west London. It is served by the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines. On the District and Circle lines the station is between Gloucester Road and Sloane Square. On the Piccadilly Line it is between Gloucester Road and Knightsbridge.
In December 1928 a passenger alighting at the station from the last westbound train of the evening was startled by the shriek of a train whistle. Suddenly an unscheduled spectral train appeared heading eastbound with a ghostly figure wearing a reefer jacket and a peaked cap hanging onto the side of the engine. The train and its unusual passenger vanished into the tunnel never to be seen again. VICTORIA LINE (Near Vauxhall Tube Station)
The ghost of a very tall workman (some witnesses say that the ghost they saw was nearly seven feet tall) wearing brown overalls and a flat cap has been seen on a number of occasions in the tunnels near to Vauxhall tube station.
Article Copyright© Mike Heffernan - reproduced with permission.